Review: A Live Album Without The Distraction Of An Audience? Blues Rocker Joe Bonamassa Has It Covered BY HAL HOROWITZ 22 MINUTES AGO
Joe Bonamassa Now Serving: Royal Tea Live from the Ryman (J&R Adventures) 3 out of 5 stars
You didn’t think a little glitch like a pandemic that kept musicians off the road for most of 2020 would stop the abundant output of veteran blues rock guitarist Joe Bonamassa, right?
Nah, he’s made of tougher, more industrious stuff. Instead of touring behind the Royal Tea (2020) studio set, Bonamassa assembled a stripped down band (no horns) at Nashville’s legendary Ryman Auditorium for one night. He employed multiple high definition cameras with professional audio and streamed the show to 100,000 fans worldwide, none of whom were there to experience it live (they were replaced by cardboard cutouts in the seats). Crowd applause with hoots and hollering was added, accessed from other Bonamassa live gigs. Never one to miss an opportunity to generate more product, the result is now released on every format (CD/DVD/Blu-Ray/Double vinyl) except cassette tape.
Bonamassa and band crank out nine of the ten Royal Tea selections (the final country ballad “Savannah” is the lone hold out), add three more from his A New Day Yesterday album (recently reissued to commemorate its 20th anniversary), and deliver 80 minutes of what every Joe B. fan craves: lots of high voltage gee-tar solos. The longer performances, and especially the soulful backing vocalists, are all slightly hotter than the studio versions. The disc’s most well-known track, the sturdy ballad “Why Does It Take so Long to Say Goodbye,” gets an extra three minutes to supply its bluesy goods. The closing version of Jethro Tull’s “A New Day Yesterday” almost doubles in length by adding a bit of Yes’ “Starship Trooper” with Steve Howe’s “Wurm” solo.
Bonamassa has often been accused of ripping through shows as if there wasn’t an audience so this just seems like another night for him. He plays and sings with his usual somewhat aloof professionalism and the 20 closing minutes of covers from Tull, Rory Gallagher (“Cradle Rock”), Free (“Walk in My Shadow”) and Yes are cool enough. But a run through of his entire recent album is just unnecessary and one listen to Gallagher tearing apart his own “Cradle Rock” is enough to understand where Bonamassa comes up short in the frazzled, sweaty rocking department by comparison.
Still, it’s the closest we’ll get to hearing these tunes removed from their studio sheen until things get back to normal. Bonamassa and band are never less than classy and talented players even without the distraction of an audience. So for those who can’t make do with the already released mountain of existing Bonamassa live DVDs/CDs etc., this does the job adequately. Extra credit though for the event and its subsequent merch totaling 32,000 (and counting) for Bonamassa’s Fueling Musicians program that has been raising money for out of work players throughout the pandemic.
Joe Bonamassa - Now Serving: Royal Tea Live from the Ryman
by Kevin Wierzbicki
Bonamassa explains at the beginning of this film how he and his band were itching to get out and perform the music from his Royal Tea album but firstly, band drummer Anton Fig suffered an injury that led him to temporarily be unable to play and secondly the pandemic hit, making live performance impossible. Not being one who is okay with idle time, Bonamassa came up with the idea to livestream a concert and also film it and Now Serving came to fruition. Now Serving: Royal Tea Live from the Ryman finds Bonamassa and his band performing his Royal Tea album in its entirety, with the exception of that album's closing track "Savannah." Nashville's vaunted Ryman Auditorium is devoid of fans for the event but Joe placed cardboard cutouts in the seats, including one of his mom. And an interesting touch for the viewer's sake is how there is crowd reaction (from various shows over the years) spliced into the film after each song, and it is noted on screen where each snippet of applause came from.
The songs are performed slightly out of order from the album but the show begins with "When One Door Opens," the cut that also opened Royal Tea. The song is relatively mellow until its midpoint when the drums start pounding (here played by Greg Morrow) the rhythm starts rocking and Bonamassa starts really going to town on a Telecaster, one of many guitars that he plays during the show. "High Class Girl" plays out to a funky strut suitable for appreciating that high class girl's walk, and the swamp rocking "Lookout Man!" has bass man Michael Rhodes setting his ax to "fuzz" while Jimmy Hall (of Wet Willie fame) adds flavor with his harmonica. Joe's guitar mimics the emotion of a breakup on the melancholy "Why Does it Take so Long to Say Goodbye," "A Conversation with Alice" is a rocker and Bonamassa gives a nod to Jimi Hendrix on "I Didn't Think She Would Do It" to a projected background of Hendrix-era psychedelic graphics. A highlight from late in the show is "Beyond the Silence," a cut where both Joe's vocals and his guitar work drip with tortured emotion.
After the playing of Royal Tea ends with "Lonely Boy" Joe and friends play a few covers, beginning with an incendiary take on Rory Gallagher's "Cradle Rock" and a version of Free's "Walk in My Shadow." A surprising but very cool choice to end the show is the Jethro Tull oldie "A New Day Yesterday" which segues into "Starship Trooper," originally performed by Yes. As you would expect, Bonamassa shows incredible finesse while scorching his fretboard all through the show and the camerawork affords lots of close-ups of his nimble fingers. The band doesn't miss a note either, and other than those mentioned already they are: Reese Wynans on keyboards, Rob McNelly on guitar and Jade MacRae and Dannielle DeAndrea on vocals.
A New Day Yesterday / Starship Trooper - Wurm (Live) 3,617 viewsJune 10, 2021
corronach: Perth Concert Hall and Perth Theatre - Horsecross 48 m · URGENT message for ticket holders for Jethro Tull in Perth Concert Hall tomorrow Monday 27 September. We have just been advised that due to a medical issue in the touring party, the gig has been CA
Sept 26, 2021 11:20:36 GMT
jackinthegreen: Where did you see this Corronach? I have tickets and cannot see the cancellation anywhere.........even the official Tull website still shows the gig taking place???
Sept 26, 2021 14:22:20 GMT
jackinthegreen: The Perth gig is cancelled, I got an email from the venue telling me so..
Sept 27, 2021 11:27:38 GMT
fandango2: Hi, Does anyone think that the powers that be will ever release the Capital Theater "Under Wraps" tour footage? That show was pretty good pro shot decent sound etc... Or some good John Glascock era footage? I keep hoping for that footage to be release
Oct 4, 2021 17:37:47 GMT
futureshock: I haven't posted for so long it took me 3 minutes to find my login on a stored file. Now I feel like I'm useful again, posting comments of great entertainment and informative purpose, for the global community of music creators. So, what should I say?
Oct 13, 2021 18:34:26 GMT
JTull 007: The POWER of TULL will make the world a better to ROCK !!!! CRANK IT UP
Oct 18, 2021 1:06:08 GMT
crosseyedmary75: Boys, I don't know where to put things. I am not purposely trying to screw things up. I'm a natural at it.
Oct 30, 2021 6:08:44 GMT
crosseyedmary75: Could it stop the sunrise hearing you weep? What a sight for my eyes, to see you in sleep. You're not seen. Your not heard. But, I stand by my word. Came a thousand miles just to catch you while you're smiling What a day for laughter and dreaming at night
Oct 30, 2021 6:17:37 GMT