On Saturday, April 27, Joe Bonamassa returned to Milwaukee for an evening at the Riverside Theatre. Bonamassa has been playing Milwaukee for many years and reminisced about his days performing at Shank Hall, a venue with a mere 300 capacity. Now after years of touring Milwaukee, Bonamassa performed for a sold out crowd of over 2,400.
Fresh off the release of a new acoustic album, An Acoustic Evening at the Vienna Opera House, Bonamassa began the night with a 5 song acoustic set, leading off with “Seagull” and closing with “Woke Up Dreaming.” One thing that was evident from the get-go was the chemistry Bonamassa has developed with his band mates. They played off each other very well, and while Bonamassa is the star of the show, each member of the band was given their time to shine.
The electric set kicked off with the powerful “Slow Train,” a complete 360 to the acoustic set. Over the years, Bonamassa’s songs have continued to develop and evolve in new ways. “Look Over Yonders Wall,” which appeared on Bonamassa’s 2010 album, Black Rock, made its way into the set with a new, laid back vibe that was jammy and funky. “The Ballad of John Henry” has also been reworked and now features Bonamassa and new touring keyboard player Arlen Schierbaum dueling it out with a sensational display of virtuosity.
Between songs, Bonamassa talked about how something interesting happens every trip he makes to Milwaukee and shared a story from his latest visit. On the morning of the show, Bonamassa was leaving his hotel to walk across the street for a cup of coffee. Bonamassa happened to be staying at the same hotel as the reigning NBA Champions, the Miami Heat, who were in town for their playoff match up with the Milwaukee Bucks. A crowd surrounded the hotel and as Bonamassa was leaving, he heard a man yelling, “Mr. James! Mr. James!” The man yelling got right up in Bonamassa’s face and addressed Bonamassa as “Mr. James” again while asking for an autograph. Bonamassa happily obliged for the fan, who thought he was NBA superstar LeBron James. Bonamassa joked with the audience in attendance to watch out for at least one LeBron James autograph forgery on eBay, which prompted laughter from the crowd.
The evening closed with fan favorites “Sloe Gin” and “Just Got Paid” for the encore. Bonamassa dedicated “Sloe Gin” to a married couple that he met at the pre-show meet and greet, who were celebrating their 37th wedding anniversary. After a standing ovation from the capacity crowd for “Sloe Gin,” the appreciative audience remained standing as Bonamassa worked the crowd with the rocking “Just Got Paid.”
Jockey Full of Bourbon
Athens to Athens
Woke Up Dreaming
Who’s Been Talking
Young Man’s Blues
Look Over Yonders Wall
The Ballad of John Henry
Just Got Paid
– Pete Francis