WHETHER OR NOT you’ve had the chance to catch a Joe Bonamassa gig, his latest DVD, Live from the Royal Albert Hall [Premier Artists], is a must see. Not only do you get blues-rock’s leading light at the height of his powers, but you also get a kick-ass backing band, stellar camera work, great sound quality, and a little jam between Bonamassa and a guy whose initials are E.C.
Talk about the tune that opens the show, “Django.”
It was Kevin Shirley’s idea. We needed something epic-sounding yet simple, as we were anticipating the nerve factor times ten. It also went well with the second tune, “Ballad of John Henry.”
It’s hard enough to put out a record where you only have to worry about how you’re playing. How does adding the visual element of a DVD change things?
The amount of pressure was immense: 4,500 people, Eric Clapton, and 250 grand on the line. Plus, my mom, dad, and sister Lindsay were there. That was the biggest. Gotta be good when the family comes.
You’re a notorious stickler for tone. What did you think of your sound that night?
I was happy with the tone. Converting audio into ones and zeros affects the tone somewhat, so DVDs are tricky. You have to master it with the limitations in mind. Now Blu-ray is a different story…
You’ve played with a lot of the greats, but I have to think that the Clapton jam on this DVD was different. What was it like to play “Further On Up the Road” in that venue with that guy?
For any guitarist, to play with the person who influenced you on a fundamental level is special. It was honestly a once in a lifetime experience. Eric is a total gentleman, and I will always be grateful for him coming and playing.
What did he say to you?
He did mention to me that he liked one of my sunburst Les Pauls. We used to call that guitar Gary Moore. Now I call it “God’s Choice.”
You told GPthat you’re hesitant to listen to your live recordings for fear that they won’t live up to your memory of the gig. Given that, how do you feel about this performance?
I honestly don’t remember much about the night. Two and half hours went by in a blur. When I watch the DVD, I think, “Damn, I was having a blast!”