Joe Bonamassa at the Fox Theatre Review - Blues On Steroids

It seems that too much time has passed since the electric guitar has been aptly rediscovered by a recent artist who is willing to immerse themselves in the task of mastering the instrument. Though a great tool for novice musicians to bang out their latest four-chord masterpiece, most opt out of discovering its true potential. Not to mention, pop radio has all but literally driven guitar-laden music into virtual obscurity, making the search for a seasoned and proficient musician even more challenging.  

Following in the footsteps of such legendary artists as Eric Clapton and Stevie Ray Vaughan, is notably the most soulful, edgy and technically proficient guitarist to come along in the past two decades. Joe Bonamassa, a fourth-generation musician born and raised in New Hartford, New York, has in all likelihood put more miles on a guitar than most veteran blues artists twice his age.

Bonamassa’s appearance Friday evening at Detroit’s Fox Theater was all-encompassing. Having never witnessed him live and not knowing what to expect, it was inspiring to see this gifted artist, in the prime of his career, have such a polished and unique performance. Initially noted, was the 5000-seater venue filled to capacity. With the Motor City having welcomed Joe in the past, it was plain to see that those in attendance were there to experience something that contemporary radio has long but forgotten – “blues-powered rock ‘n’ roll”.

Having picked up his first guitar at four years old after watching a VHS copy of Cream’s Farewell Concert at Royal Albert Hall, his shows seem to pay homage to those who inspired him. Though promoting his now tenth studio release “Driving Towards the Daylight”, roughly half of Bonamassa’s set list featured incredible covers from blues legends. An acoustic version of Paul Rogers’ “Seagull” opened the night followed by the Charles Mingus classic “Jelly Roll” and Tom Waits “Jockey Full of Bourbon”. Welcoming Detroit’s own Jim McCarty on stage, the two traded licks while performing Bobby Blue Bland’s energetic “Further on Up the Road” and Jeff Beck’s tasty “Blues Deluxe”.

Throughout the night his hefty collection of Gibson guitars served to express the true feeling that Joe put into each note he played. And if you weren’t floored by his incredible tone and blistering solos, you could not have walked away from this show unaware of his equally impressive voice. Like any seasoned blues vocalist, Bonamassa revealed the rasp, inflection and emotion behind not only his lyrics, but as well in his versions of classic covers. In most cases, his interpretation vocally, seemed to rival that of the original. With a distinct timbre and inflection in his voice, he will no doubt be hailed as one of the great blues guitar/vocalists of this century.

Aside from countless studio guest appearances with artists including Leslie West, John Lord and Lee Ritenour as well as his contribution to super group Black Country Communion, Joe Bonamassa has a long pedigree of musical accomplishments. More so, it is simply exciting to know that from time to time a new artist comes along to remind us of a music that has resonated for over 100 years. Long live “the blues”! 


To discover more about Joe Bonamassa visit

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