The 2,200 people who made their way to Pinewood Bowl on Friday were treated to a first-class blues rock show by guitarist extraordinaire Joe Bonamassa and his unmatched band.
Thrilled to be playing outdoors in the Pioneers Park amphitheater — his 2017 show set for the venue had to be moved to Pinnacle Bank Arena because of weather, Bonamassa led the band through nearly two hours of originals and covers.
On each song, Bonamassa, who’s an effective singer, showed off his guitar chops — fast and fluid, soulful and slow, rough or smooth depending on the song.
But Bonamassa wasn’t simply putting on a guitar showcase. His band’s too good and versatile for that.
So Rock and Roll Hall of Fame keyboardist Reese Wynans took the spotlight on organ and piano, most notably on the intro of “This Train,” which led into Bonamassa swapping lines with bassist Michael Rhodes, who matched him phrase for phrase.
The show was beautifully paced. To pick one stretch of songs, the band took Tampa Red’s “Don’t You Lie to Me (I Get Evil)" to New Orleans on the punchy funky work of the two-man horn section and Wynans’ Professor Longhairesque piano right into a gorgeous, slow “Slow Gin” drenched with harmonies of the two backing singers.
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Then, after a broken guitar strap and a nice catch of a vintage Stratocaster, a joke and band introduction, came a chooglin’ stretched-out take on Delaney and Bonnie’s “Well, Well” in all its early ‘70s glory.
And, capping the run, paying tribute to his mentor, B.B. King, with a killer version of the slow blues — and wailing guitar workout — of “Nobody Loves Me But My Mother,” which for me was the night’s musical peak.
Because the solo-filled songs ran at least 6 minutes apiece, Bonamassa played about 15 songs in the two-hour show.
But they were all impressively cool — and he really strutted his “showoff, hotshot” stuff on an amazing shape-shifting solo “Woke Up Dreaming” during the two-song encore.
That was a terrific way to end a show that was, as he’d implied when I spoke with him last week, even better than his PBA concert two years ago.