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Joe Bonamassa at The Greek Theatre – Live Review

Joe Bonamassa, The Greek Theatre, Los Angeles, CA., August 1, 2021

One year ago, to the date! The Greek Theatre was supposed to host Joe Bonamassa to celebrate its 90th birthday. This, of course, did not happen and was postponed. The wonderful Greek Theatre in Los Angeles, California, sits right below the Griffith Observatory and is one of my favorite venues, had its opening night after the long shut down. It celebrated its 90th belated birthday, and what an opening night it was! Almost 5,000 in attendance! It was terrific to hear that many people again.

Joe Bonamassa needs no introduction. The blues-rock guitar prodigy-singer-songwriter has numerous chart-topping albums and songs and is a two-time Grammy nominee (should have been winner, in my opinion). Bonamassa appeared on stage in his suit with a gorgeous 1977 custom Anthony Zemaitis guitar. The crowd stood up to clap and cheer. Everyone was excited to not only see the guitar virtuoso but to be out of the house and around people. The first notes of ‘Oh Beautiful‘ from Bonamassa and Jade MacRae (backing vocals and Queen of Soul) rang out. The mood of the stands went from excitement to pure awe and enjoyment, and then the blues-rock instruments kicked in, setting the tone for the night.

The heavy funk-rock of ‘Love Ain’t A Love Song‘ followed, showcasing once again Bonamassa’s harmony vocals with MacRae in the choruses, accompanied by his bewitching guitar. Gary Moore’sMidnight Blues‘ wrapped up the first three songs, and my shoot time for this show was over. Time to put the gear away and enjoy the remainder of the set as the fan for 15 years I am!

I had the most amazing seats I had ever had for Bonamassa. This being the first real back in-person show, combined with fantastic music, the gorgeous lighting, the perfect sound mixing, the fans all together to enjoy something our souls all needed; I cried a little bit. I am not ashamed to say this. Bonamassa spoke to the crowd about his time not playing and the dark thoughts that would come through his head, wondering if music would ever return… If life would ever return to normal… They are thoughts everyone in the music community has all had and still continues to feel and think about with things teetering.

Bonamassa’s set continued with MacRae singing periodically on various songs, Michael Rhodes on Bass, Reese Wyans on Keys, and Greg Morrow on Drums. A few of my favorites were ‘Jockey Full of Bourbon,’ ‘Pain and Sorrow,’ and ‘When One Door Opens.’ But the one track that always takes the cake live is Joe’s acoustic performance of ‘Woke Up Dreaming.’ This song is powerful on album, but live is a whole other level. The guitar shouldn’t still be intact after the passion that is this song! The night closes out with Cream’s rip-roaring rendition of ‘Crossroads.’ Bonamassa has covered this song with many amazing stars. I suggest you look it up. I believe it was 2013 when Bonamassa covered it with the legendary ax-slinger Zakk Wylde of Black Label Society.

Joe Bonamassa is no doubt a guitar legend! There are several upcoming tour dates, and I highly suggest you attend. Bonamassa is on a whole other level live. His playing is almost hypnotic and healing as you watch him meticulously navigate the fretboard in the most complex of patterns.  I look forward to Bonamassa returning to LA for more live performances.

A very special thank you to the staff at The Greek Theatre for a flawless and memorable opening night! A powerful thank you to Joe Bonamassa’s crew; we are happy to see everyone back at it with all you do to make each show so fabulous. And a very very happy birthday to The Greek Theatre; you’ve aged beautifully! Thank you for all the memories you have created, and continue to create each night <3

(Review and Photos by Erica Vincent)

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