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Whenever Bonamassa's playing, guitar is still clearly king.

Terrace Theater, Long Beach, Cal., November 24, 2018

Reviewed by Dan MacIntosh

Perhaps you've heard about the supposed imminent demise of guitar rock. Guitar acts have become ever scarce on the pop charts, and even a name brand guitar manufacturer (Gibson) recently filed for bankruptcy. Rock and roll may be here to stay, but possibly only in limited quantities. However, a Joe Bonamassa concert is like a hopeful oasis in this desert of doom. Whenever Bonamassa's on stage, guitar is still clearly king.

Bonamassa filled the quaint theater with axe-loving rock fans. The theater was mostly packed with older guys, but there were also some enthusiastic female fans, too. Bonamassa kicked off the evening with the rollicking shuffle "King Bee Shakedown." Dressed in a suit and wearing his sunglasses at night, Bonamassa was backed by a stellar band, which included David Letterman show drummer Anton Fig and former Stevie Ray Vaughan keyboardist Reese Wynans. Additionally, Bonamassa's band sported a trumpeter, saxophonist, drummer, bassist and two female vocalists. This relatively big band created bigtime Friday night sound.

Even a guitar novice would have recognized Bonamassa's highly skilled playing. He did not have a second guitarist accompanying him, which required him to play rhythm as well as lead parts. When he did step out and take solos, which he did quite often, Bonamassa played with plenty of sincere emotion. This show was one of the last ones from his 2018 tour, and he looked and sounded fully in sync with his bandmates. Truly, like a well-oiled machine.

Bonamassa only took his shades off toward the end of the concert during his band introductions. It was then that he thanked the audience for coming out to see him, instead of engaging in Black Friday shopping madness. He also noted that he's a fellow Los Angeleno and that many friends and family - including his parents - were in the audience this night.

The show was loud and entertaining, from start to finish, with many highlights. Maybe the best moment of all, though, was when Bonamassa performed B.B. King's self-deprecating "Nobody Loves Me But My Mother." He sang its humorous lyrics, while spitting out stinging King-like lead guitar lines.

This Joe Bonamassa concert was tailor made for electric guitar music loves. In fact, if you don't appreciate bluesy rock and roll, you may have come away a little overwhelmed. From the looks of it, though, Bonamassa was clearly preaching to a visibly happy choir.



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