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Wednesday, 19 October 2011

Live & Dangerous 13: Joe Bonamassa, David Ford

Joe Bonamassa & David Ford (Cardiff Motorpoint Arena)

David Ford

How do you win over a crowd of avid blues-rockers? With an acoustic blues/folk one man band. Starting off with just a nail box, egg shaker and drum box David Ford kept the crowd in awe for the entire set list. He is the epitome of the solo artist as he used all the instruments at his disposal (including a small organ and an acoustic guitar) to create wonderful layered backing tracks. All the layering was done on the stage with the aid of a mic and small programmer device. Fords voice was gritty and raw and his performances had a hint of melancholy and passion. He left the audience spell bound with both his unique performance style and his likeable attitude. He reminded me of mix between Bob Dylan, Seasick Steve, Mike Oldfield and folk troubadour Frank Turner, and for those comparisons alone he was a great thing to behold. 7/10

Joe Bonamassa

As the strains of Maiden's 2 Minutes To Midnight lowered JB and band arrived on stage and immediately opened with their supercharged cover of Rory Gallagher's Cradle Rock before moving into the heavy as lead riff for When The Fire Hits The Sea. After a Gary Moore cover Joe then played three songs from new album Dust Bowl (title track, Slow Train and the funky You Better Watch Yourself) before the show stopping Sloe Gin brought the capacity crowd to its feet. Joe then pushed up the tempo with his self-proclaimed 'hit' The Ballad Of John Henry which started off three from the John Henry... album and was followed by Black Rock's Steal Your Heart Away. The next big showstopper came at the end of the main set with the one-two of the frenzied acoustic track Woke Up Dreaming and the epic Django/Mountain Time. These two brought the crowd to their feet again, all the credit can't go Bonamassa however as he is backed by a tremendous band, Rick Melick brings his Keys and Hammond to create meticulous melodies over the heavy rocking and authenticating the blues with some boogie. Carmine Rojas plays some exquisite bass and can match Bonamassa's style with ease, new drummer Tal Bergman is an animal behind the kit and smashes everything with power and precision (as shown on his drum solo in Young Man Blues where he was literally shaking the kit). However it is Joe's playing and voice that brings in the punters and they are both fantastic throughout. The best showcase for both is the encore which includes two covers one is Joe's electric reworking of Leonard Cohen's Bird On a Wire which showcases Joe's expressive and excellent voice and the second was ZZ Top's Just Got Paid which showed Joe's superior playing (clad in the obligatory Gibson Explorer). After this encore the room was shaking with rapturous applause, Bonamassa had destroyed the crowd with his thunderous blues rock and seemed in fine form (despite cancelling the last two gigs because of flu). Finally he was able to do this in the Motorpoint Arena which is not known for its sound quality; however the sound for this gig sounded the best it had in a long time. (Maybe things are on the up.) 9/10

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