by Michael Rampa
Joe Bonamassa, Acoustic evening, Vienna Opera house. If you think that is counterintuitive, toss in the nyckelharpa, glockenspiel and Irish fiddle and you’ve got a modern day magical mystery tour on your hands.
Nonetheless, the blues phenom known for his bruising Les Paul manages to create an unparalleled unplugged experience with “An Acoustic Evening at the Vienna Opera House.” (out Mar. 26) After scorching London’s Royal Albert Hal land New York’s Beacon Theater on his prior live albums, Bonamassa decided to take it down a notch with his latest project. In a radical departure, this concert features four international musicians playing classical instruments in a gorgeously textured 22 song set that spans Bonamassa’s career. His Les Paul is nowhere to be found as he plays only acoustic alongside instruments that most people have never heard of.
“To say this was a challenge was an understatement,” said Bonamassa. “To say this was a departure from anything I had ever done before is an even bigger understatement. I can say with full certainty that it was the most enjoyable tour I have ever done. On this tour I really learned the virtues of my singing lessons over the years. Take away those long guitar solos, all that sustain and that big Gibson sound and what is left leaves you no option but to dig deep and sing until you can’t sing anymore. ” Underneath all the mellow cover, he still manages to bring some acoustic hurt on his electric show staple, “The Ballad of John Henry.” The title track from his most recent No. 1, “Driving Towards the Daylight” gets an up-tempo beat down as well. The sound is flawless and symphonic throughout.
Bonamassa is equally at home and as effective in a sacred venue that has hosted Mozart and Beethoven as he is playing bone crushing blues in theaters and arenas. It is truly one of the most unique projects in music
The North American leg of the 24 date tour begins April 10 in Vancouver and ends in mid-May with three shows at the Beacon Theater.
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