When I was young(er), “guitar hero” did not refer to a (dumb) video game where you push buttons on a fake guitar but to a guitarist who captured your imagination with his wizardry on his chosen instrument. My guitar heroes would have to include the likes of Pete Townshend, Jimi Hendrix, Jimmy Page, Neil Young and #1 man, Dave Gilmour. Sadly, those heady days are long gone.
However, it was certainly heartening to witness modern-day guitar hero Joe Bonamassa in action at the Esplanade Concert Hall, bringing back memories of times gone by with a dynamic, virtuoso performance. It was plainly obvious to 1,200 punters who attended Bonamassa‘s second Singapore concert in a year that classic guitar rock is still alive and kicking, safe in the skilful hands of someone like Bonamassa!
I barely sat down when Bonamassa walked on stage (promptly at 7.30pm!) with acoustic guitar in hand and proceeded to blow us all away with deft renditions of “Palm Trees”, “Seagull”, “Dislocated Boy”, “Driving Towards The Daylight” and “Woke Up Dreaming” backed by percussionist Tal Bergman. One could not help but be hugely impressed with Bonamassa‘s ability to hold the crowd’s attention with just his guitar and voice – and a good set of pipes he possesses as well.
As good as the acoustic set was, it would be quickly forgotten as Bonamassa‘s band (Bergman on drums, Carmine Rojas on bass and Rick Melick on keyboards) joined Bonamassa to deliver a wide range of classic rock numbers that covered blues rock (“Slow Train”), hard rock (“Ballad of John Henry”), country rock (“Mountain Time”) and good ol’ fashioned rock (a visceral version of The Who’s cover of Mose Allison’s “Young Man Blues”!!!!)
Armed with a Gibson Les Paul, I kept thinking how much Bonamassa‘s style reminded me of the legendary Led Zep axeman Jimmy Page and right on cue during the encore number “Just Got Paid” Bonamassa channels Page with a venue-shaking rendition of Led Zep’s “Dazed and Confused”, literally bringing the house down.
The standing ovation at the concert’s denouement was recognition of the audience’s appreciation but personally, the true significance was Bonamassa‘s dedication to a craft that may not be relevant to teens nowadays but the power and glory of classic guitar rock just cannot be denied. Rock on!
Thanks to Sammy Shirra-Moore, J&R Adventures and Midas Promotions for making this review possible.