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Joe Bonamassa - Live at the Sydney Opera House

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He sails to exotic ports all over the world with shiploads of his fans, his latest North American tour has sold out at every stop, and Epiphone has just released a seventh guitar in his signature line, modeled after a 1960 Les Paul. Now his new album has topped the Billboard blues charts, the 22nd time that one of his releases has done so. All of that reinforces the notion that Joe Bonamassa is indeed the king of working blues rock guitarists, but you need only hear him play to confirm it. And play like crazy is what he does on the recently-released Live at the Sydney Opera House, a nine-song set filled with glorious, lengthy jams.

The show begins with band keyboardist Reese Wynans (Stevie Ray Vaughan's Double Trouble) playing the intro to Jethro Tull's "Locomotive Breath" on piano; the bit might confuse those who recognize it but the intro is a clever way into the Bonamassa co-write, "This Train." Wynans gets to showcase in the main part of the song too, playing boogie-woogie piano as the song choogles along. Another song dealing with movin' is "Drive," but unlike "This Train" the song is a slow and dreamy ode to having your baby next to you as you drive off into the night, with nothing in particular in mind, other than eventually some lovin'. Lee Thornburg gets a cool mid-song solo on trumpet, right before Joe plays a sinuous solo that slices through the darkness like no headlights could.

Bonamassa kicks off the R&B cut "Love Ain't a Love Song" with guitar pyrotechnics; at 10 minutes the cut is the effort's longest and gives plenty of time not only to guitar but also Joe's soulful vocals, the horn section and Wynans on organ. A cover of George Terry's "Mainline Florida," also famously covered by Eric Clapton, leads the band into the last part of the show, a killer three-song offering of the country blues "The Valley Runs Low," the awash-in-psychedelia "Blues of Desperation," and for the big finish, "No Good Place for the Lonely." Bonamassa and company put on one heck of a live show here for Australian fans and as the Sydney contingent might have said as they left the opera house, "Good on ya!"

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