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Joe Bonamassa - Live At Carnegie Hall: An Acoustic Evening album & DVD review

Album Review

JoBo’s acoustic extravaganza at legendary New York venue

“Oh, Christ. Not another live album from Joe Bonamassa,” we sighed inwardly upon receiving the press release for Live At Carnegie Hall. Still, if a formula’s worth doing it’s worth doing well – and often. And people do keep buying them, so why not?

But wait! This one’s different. Well, we say ‘different’. It’s still Bonamassa wearing a suit, not saying much and being phenomenally good on guitar, playing blues-rooted songs with similarly impressive session types. There’s also bonus interview footage.

And yet there’s something very attractive about this DVD/ CD performance, with its nine piece acoustic band from diverse corners of the globe (percussionist Hossam Ramzy played on Page & Plant’s Unledded album, keyboard player Reese Wynans was in Stevie Ray Vaughan’s Double Trouble) who complement rather than compete with each other.

It’s mostly a well-chosen set for its grand surroundings. After a slightly misfiring This Train (great in it’s amplified rock form on Blues Of Desperation; a bit awkward with a refined, largely seated acoustic group), it’s mostly softer numbers and countrified, almost Ry Cooder-ish strains that thrive in this lavish unplugged environment. And the Flight Of The Bumblebee-esque Hummingbird, a duet between Joe and cello/erhu virtuoso Tina Guo, is so dazzlingly fast and furious it’s quite hypnotising.

This an ambitious, considered and commanding set – not more Joe just for the sake of it.

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