by Harriet Kaplan Photos by Jenise Jensen August 09 2023 Hollywood, CA

Joe Bonamassa is not only a phenomenally talented blues rock guitarist and songwriter, but an incredibly gifted singer with a raw, gusty, emotive vocal style. 

The Los Angeles, CA resident played at the Hollywood Bowl on Wednesday, August 9th for the first time in his illustrious career having toured all over the world and played alongside well-renowned blues and rock artists. But this Bowl show was incredibly special, for the down-to-earth artist, recalling a time 20 years he first played a gig at the Mint. It was “look how far I have come,” moment, along with accolades and honors since then bestowed upon Bonamassa. Like releasing twenty-six albums reaching Number One on the Billboard Blues album chart. Also, forthcoming is another album to be released: Blues Deluxe Vol. 2.

Yet he took a moment on stage like a newcomer, to music to reflect and even joke to the audience, “Not bad for an opening act!” Bonamassa also seemed thrilled to have his family in the audience and pointed them out with beaming pride, also saying: “Look, I’ve made the big time!” Cameras followed him all over the stage and throughout the crowd as the footage was going to be used for a concert film. The first portion of show focused straight ahead blues rock powerfully executed with heart and soul by Bonamassa and his fantastic band. He pointed out keyboardist and Rock and Roll Hall-of-Famer Reese Wynans last performed at the Bowl at the Playboy Jazz Festival in 1986 with Stevie Ray Vaughan. It was a poignant and bittersweet moment.

Other band members included Josh Smith on guitar, Lemar Carter on drums, and Dannielle De Andrea on backing vocals. Song highlights included “Evil Mama,” “Dust Bowl,” and “Heart That Never Waits.” Bonamassa switched guitars frequently between songs to pronounced effect as he owns over 500 five hundred of them. 

Next, there was a short intermission, Bonamassa and his band came back to the stage where they were joined by the L.A. Philharmonic. David Campbell conducted the orchestra. At first, the orchestra overwhelmed the organic nature of the band rather than complimenting or accentuating it, but quickly found its footing and was a great fit. There were a number of standout performances featured: “When One Door Opens,” “Ball Peen Hammer,” and the “The Last Matador of Bayonne” was particularly captivating and enthralling.

Joe Bonamassa’s show at the Hollywood Bowl will be remembered by fans as one of expert craft and mastery on guitar and outstanding songs. It was a searing and dynamic performance one will not soon forget. Bonamassa is a musical hero. He is unafraid to show the man behind the curtain of fame that can still delight in and be in awe of all good things that come him his way, rejoice in them and be grateful. 

Evil Mama
Dust Bowl
Love Ain’t a Love Song
I Want to Shout About It (Coco Montoya cover)
The Heart That Never Waits
Joe Bonamassa with Orchestra
When One Door Opens (Overture)
Curtain Call
Self-Inflicted Wounds
No Good Place for the Lonely
Ball Peen Hammer (Chris Whitley cover) (First performance since 2014)
The Last Matador of Bayonne
Prisoner (Barbra Streisand cover)
If Heartaches Were Nickels (Kenny Neal cover)
The Ballad of John Henry

Twenty-Four Hour Blues
Sloe Gin (Tim Curry cover)
Note: Performing with orchestra

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