Live At Carnegie Hall - An Acoustic Evening [Blu-Ray]
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On January 21st and 22nd of 2016, world-renowned platinum-selling and Grammy nominated Blues-rock singer-songwriter and guitarist Joe Bonamassa performed two unique all-acoustic shows at the iconic Carnegie Hall in New York City. Both performances were filmed and made into Joe Bonamassa Live At Carnegie Hall – An Acoustic Evening. An evening of extraordinary music with new arrangements of favorite songs as well as brand new, never-before-heard songs. The video piece includes 104 minutes of feature film, over 45 minutes of bonus features and is housed in a beautifully designed Blu-Ray package that is perfect for a music lover’s collection.
The concert was part of a special all-acoustic tour and featured an all-star ensemble of world-class musicians. Acclaimed Chinese cellist and erhuist Tina Guo, whose repertoire stretches from classical to heavy metal; and Hossam Ramzy, the Egyptian percussionist and composer, who has performed on dozens of film soundtracks and records, including on Jimmy Page and Robert Plant’s No Quarter: Unledded Tour. Reese Wynans (piano), Anton Fig (Drums) Eric Bazilian (mandolin, hurdy-gurdy, saxophone, acoustic guitar, vocals), and three Australian backing vocalists, Mahalia Barnes, Juanita Tippins, and Gary Pinto round out the band.
‘Despite being among the most ambitious things I’ve done – I played with a 9 piece acoustic band – It came out great. It was a typical Joe freak show.’ (Joe Bonamassa)
Everyone knows the old saying about how to get to Carnegie Hall, but Bonamassa has truly lived that advice. His entire life and musical career had been practice for this moment, and a young blues-boy finally made good on a childhood dream of playing one of the most hallowed stages in the world.
This stripped down, all-acoustic show allowed his fans a glimpse into his soul and presented a thrilling and musically dangerous spectacle akin to walking a tightrope without a net.
‘Reminiscent of Ry Cooder’s ‘70s experiments in blues, country and soul.’ (Mojo)
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Aside from those two, Bonamassa has a whole new, international band. Hossam Ramzy from Egypt by way of London is on percussion, Eric Bazilian, on loan from his band, The Hooters handles mandolin, bango, sax and flute if I recall. Co-starring with Joe up front is classically trained Tina Guo, originally from Shanghai and is a great addition on cello and a funky looking 2-string instrument called an Erhu. Finally a trio of backup singers from Australia (Gary Pinto, Mahalia Barnes and Juanita Tippins) add some great vocals.
Like many established musicians, I think Bonamassa enjoyed the change of pace as he is able to sit and strum. In fact I think his singing is as good as it has ever been. I’ve never thought Joe had a great blues voice. At times it becomes a bit strident to my ears. Here however, he rarely has to reach. Now if this all sounds like Joe is taking it easy, au contraire. His duet with Ms. Guo on “Woke Up Dreaming” had their instruments smoking. In one of the supplements, Joe says that playing that song with Tina led him up to the edge of his abilities. It is something to behold. Joe mixes up the set with mostly well-known songs to his fans and several from his “Different Shades of Blue” album which was also released in 2016. I have my favorites of course. I really like “Drive” and “Driving Towards The Daylight” and like everything else here, they take on a fresh new sound.
Producer, Kevin Shirley and director Philippe Klose are both long time confederates of Bonamassa and they always put out a great Blu Ray package. This is no exception. In fact, from an audio perspective, this may be the best I’ve heard. There are 2 audio options. The first is DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 and it is magnificent. I played the concert through the first time in my home theater and was struck by the sound. It was as if I was sitting perfectly in the center of row 15. I’ve never done this before, but I then moved into my dedicated audio (stereo) room. I do have a tiny 15” TV in there, primarily to help set up components like the Oppo B105 universal player. I slapped in the disc and set the audio for PCM stereo. It sounded great. Even though the gear in this room is superior to my theater room, I prefer the enveloping sound of the 5.1 track. Not to mention the 63” screen better highlights the focus on the musicians playing. Now, how about Dolby Atmos on the next concert release?
Klose, again knows how to shoot and cut a concert. No dizzying quick cuts here. Thank you. The visuals are terrific as well. The disc has a 1080p video resolution and a 1.78:1 aspect ratio. The concert runs 104 minutes and goes by quickly. Joe only takes one break at about 54 minutes to introduce the band. There are about 45 minutes of extras including a “Behind The Scenes” piece with Joe and others. Included is a photo gallery and a second night performance of “Woke Up Dreaming.” I’ve never quite understood why this guy doesn’t get more respect. I don’t think there is better guitarist on the planet. Highly recommended. Here is the set list:
1.Cold Streets (Intro)
4.The Valley Runs Low
6.Driving Towards the Dayllight
7.Black Lung Heartache
8.Blue and Evil
10.Get Back My Tomorrow
13.How Can a Poor Man Stand Such Times and Live
14.Song of Yesterday
15.Woke Up Dreaming
19.Cold Streets (Credits)