Joe Bonamassa holding a free gig? At The Cavern Club, Liverpool? Seriously? Oh yes and, what’s more, not only was this a gig to honour three of the finest blues players of all time in Jeff Beck, Jimmy Page and Eric Clapton, it was an event that is unlikely to be repeated. Ever.
The Cavern may have seen some of the world’s greatest bands in its time, but few if any will have beaten Bonamassa when it comes to the raw power, passion and out-and-out craft he exhibited here.
With Beck’s Bolero and Rice Pudding kicking proceedings off, there was never a moment when the energy levels dropped, with the sweltering hot, sweat soaked invitees and competition winners lapping up every chord like parched dogs at cool oasis.
Yes this is a Tribute to the British Blues Explosion, but don’t expect the usual unveiling of the many monoliths these three greats are associated with. Instead, it was a gig in which the unexpected ruled. Cream’s SWLABR thanks not only to Bonamassa’s exemplary execution but also to the backing he received from Reece Wynans on keys, Anton Fig on drums, Russ Irwin on guitar and the extraordinary Michael Rhodes on bass, pulsed and throbbed like an ensnared Targaryen dragon.
Already a song riddled with the classic guitar work provided by Clapton, Bonamassa somehow manages to take She Walks Like A Bearded Rainbow to whole new levels with his ability to twist the very marrow from everything he touches, to reveal nothing but the naked brilliance that lies beneath.
Then there is Led Zepelin’s Boogie With Stu from Physical Graffiti, which exemplifies the man’s abilities to entertain whilst always remembering that the Song’s the Thing, and thereby allowing the chops and riffs room to breathe so that its roundedness shines above else.
With a beautifully delivered Sloe Gin and – obviously, given the location – a fitting doff of the cap to The Beatles and a rip roaring Taxman from Revolver, Joe Bonamassa at The Cavern hasn’t so much raised expectations of his upcoming UK gigs – as though that were possible – but instead has cemented his credentials as possibly the finest exponent of blues music out there in creating a unique experience for all those lucky enough to witness it.
As phenomenal, luxurious and emotional a night as will ever be experienced.
JOE BONAMASSA, CAVERN CLUB, MONDAY 27 JUNE 2016
01.Beck’s Bolero/Rice Pudding
03.Boogie with Stu
04.Let Me Love You Baby
07.Double Crossing Time
10.Tea for One/Can’t Quit You Baby
14.How Many More Times
17.Blues of Desperation
18.No Good Place for the Lonely