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Joe Bonamassa Live At Carnegie Hall - An Acoustic Evening
Out Now (Mascot)

4th July 2017

andy rawll
Words: Andy Rawll

joe bonamassa

Joe Bonamassa's renowned guitar skills play second fiddle to his rich emotive voice and sumptuous and satisfying unplugged concert souvenir.

I wasn't looking forward to this album at all. What's the point of a such a supreme exponent of fiery, amped-up lead guitar performing a set of unplugged strum and pickle? How's that rich, emotive voice going to sound any good when toned down to suit a more polite acoustic style?

What's remarkable is that my cynicism was confounded on first listen, my ears then awoke to on the repeat second listen and by the third go round, I realised the how wrong I had been.

This is a great album, combining the grace and space of acoustic arrangement with the spirit and fire of the performance of an exceptional band and their glorious leader.

joe bonamassa

This landmark performance was captured in New York's hallowed Carnegie Hall in January and presents a captivating mix of familiar and favourite songs rearranged for unplugged delivery and are executed with style and panache.

Backed by the incisive swing of Anton Fig's drums and Reese Wynans' pliant piano, it's the virtuoso sparkle of cellist Tina Guo, the eclectic tones of multi-instrumentalist Eric Bazilian and percussive flair of Hossam Ramzy that provide wonderfully widescreen palette of sound, befitting such an auspicious venue.

joe bonamassa

Embracing a selection of hollow-bodied mistresses from his six-string harem, Joe focuses on the extended foreplay of his elegant picking and finely syncopated rhythm style, tempering his normally climactic lead guitar style to be more judicious, but not less satisfying, based on the heightened sense of anticipation. In fact, during many of the songs, it's the power of the Erhu, the two-string Chinese violin, so beguilingly played by Ms Guo, that reveals the sensual soul of the music.

As such, Joe's renowned guitar skills play second fiddle to his voice, which has never sounded better and has been captured with perfection by producer Kevin Shirley. Whereas, at times during Joe's fully plugged performances his rich, emotive voice can be overpowered by his searing guitar playing and exuberant band, this largely all-acoustic performance provides the perfect platform to showcase his voice.

The vocal splendour is further enhanced by the glorious backing voices, including the wonderful Mahalia Barnes, particularly on the second half of the performance, for example on 'How Can A Poor Man Stand Such Times And Love?' and the powerful "don't fly away" refrain on 'Hummingbird'.

joe bonamassa

Most notable is the strength of Joe's original songs, with the majority of the set based on songs from across his career from the superb country lilt of 'Mountain Time' from his early career (2002) album 'So, It's Like That' to the locomotive drive of 'This Train' from last year's 'Blues Of Desperation', which provides the great opening trifecta with the lovely swing of 'Drive' and the homely country soul of 'The Valley Runs Low'.

In fact, it's Joe's more recent albums that are best represented here, with no room for any tracks from 'Sloe Gin' or 'The Ballad Of John Henry', yet it's hard to argue with the song selection here, particularly in the way in which they have been adapted to an all acoustic setting. A stomping version of 'Dust Bowl' is a case in point. Quite different in tone and feel to the original album version, but no less familiar or powerful. Ballads such as the beautiful 'Drive Towards The Daylight' remain close to their original incarnations, but acquire a deeper resonance in an unplugged setting.

Overall, a surprising and eminently satisfying release, proving Joe's voice to be as rich and evocative an instrument as his well-loved guitar playing. Visually captivating and sonically supreme, this is a wonderful souvenir of what must have been a magical night.

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Wacken Winter Nights 2018 takes place between February 23rd and 25th 2018 and the great news is that you can now experience a full-on, top class German Metal Festival easily and affordably.

It only takes an hour to fly to Hamburg from London and we've had longer journeys than that within the capital and they were certainly more expensive than the £33 air ticket that just appeared in our 'flights to Wacken Winter Nights' search.


Wacken Winter Nights is organised by the same team who are responsible for the world's greatest Metal festival, Wacken-Open-Air and the 2018 bill includes Skyclad, Orphaned Land, Elvenking, Finntroll, Grave Digger, Aeverium, Comes Vagantes, Coppelius, Corvus Corax, Die Pressgëng, Elvellon, Heimataerde, Hell-O-Matic, Ignis Fatuu, Ingrimm, Irdorath, Johnny Deathshadow, Krayenzeit, Letzte Instanz, Mr Hurley und die Pulveraffen, Pampatut, Pat Razket, Schandmaul, Sündenrausch, The Aberlour's, The Moon And The Nightspirit, Torfrock, Visions Of Atlantis, Vroudenspil, Wind Rose and more.

Besides this rich billing of superb Metal bands, there is so much more to see in the festival area including the medieval market and also the walking acts and jugglers you will meet at the theme worlds, including Robert Blake, three-time World Cup winner of street magic.

Wacken Winter Nights is something not to be missed and you can check out the amazing ticket and accommodation prices right here.

We just priced up the whole four day trip with hotels, flights, shuttles and festival tickets for less than £300 and we don't think you will get a better value festival than that, anywhere.


MetalTalk recently sat down with Wacken founder and owner Thomas Jensen and that interview will be online next week and it's a fascinating insight into how Wacken originated from nothing to become the world's premiere Heavy Metal event.


Wacken 2018 takes place from 2nd to 4th August 20218 and as with Wacken Winter Nights, if you have never experienced all it has to offer, then you owe it to yourself to remedy that.

Already announced for Wacken 2018 are Judas Priest, Nightwish, Running Wild (exclusive), Arch Enemy, Dirkschneider, Doro (Special Anniversary Show), In Extremo, Sepultura, Amorphis, Amaranthe, Firewind, W.A.R., Belphegor, Mantar, Knorkator, Deserted Fear, Watain, Night Demon, Epica, Knorkator, Belphegor, Firewind, Deserted Fear and many more and we'll have more Wacken 2018 announcements during December.

As well as being the greatest Heavy Metal festival in the world, it is without a doubt the Mecca of Metal and the one thing that every single person who loves our music should have on their bucket list.

For 2018, MetalTalk have joined forces with Wacken-Open-Air to help you get to Wacken easily and inexpensively and you can peruse the ticket and travel options right here.

If you are interested in going to Wacken 2018 and have questions, please fill out the form below and we will contact you with answers to all your enquiries. You are under no obligation whatsoever by filling this form out. We won't add you to any mailing lists or send you loads of spam - all we will do is help you get to Wacken as easily and inexpensively as possible.



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