CONCERT REVIEW: Joe Bonamassa at Blackpool Opera House

Joe Bonamassa performing at the Opera House, Blackpool. Pictures: Pete Doherty

Joe Bonamassa performing at the Opera House, Blackpool. Pictures: Pete Doherty

“I threw open the curtains of my hotel room and children were riding a rollercoaster right past my window!” Joe Bonamassa told the sold-out crowd at the splendid Opera House.

“Who rides a rollercoaster at 9am on a Saturday? Apparently people in Blackpool do.”

The American singer-guitarist has played in Blackpool several times since his first appearance in the town in 2004, and his latest performance - on Saturday night - was a resounding success.

From the catchy opener This Train, through to the haunting Blues of Desperation - the title-track of his latest album - and on to the anthemic Dust Bowl, this was a two hours, 15 minutes tour de force.

Despite wearing sunglasses throughout his set, Bonamassa doesn’t look a natural showman. A flying V guitar shouldn’t be held by a man in a shirt and tie, right?

But then his fingers dance across the strings and frets, and you realise he is good. Really good. Like, freakishly you-need-to-hear-this-guy good.

Joe Bonamassa in Blackpool, picture Pete Doherty

Joe Bonamassa in Blackpool, picture Pete Doherty

Opinion of his music would depend hugely on whether you like blues rock or not, but it would be impossible not to appreciate what an accomplished musician he is.

He masterfully controls the tempo of the performance and, though he has a solid back catalogue, he peppers his setlist with a few covers.

His faultless rendition of Eric Clapton’s Pretending was an unashamed nod to his musical influences.

Like Clapton, Bonamassa has a good enough voice to carry the songs. He has range, delivery and a sprinkling of gravel which lend themselves well to blues rock.

But it is his polished, virtuoso playing - on various guitars - which lifts him to the next pedestal. His extended solos are performed with such skill and gusto that they never threaten to become self-indulgent.

The audience, most older than Bonamassa’s age of 39, finish the night on their feet as Bonamassa rounds off with a stirring cover of BB King’s Hummingbird in the one-song encore.

He completes his UK tour at Sheffield tomorrow (Monday) before moving onto mainland Europe and America.