|A New Day Yesterday Live is a bonus DVD that was included with Joe Bonamassa's So, It's Like That CD. I bought his new album out of curiosity after reading many rave reviews from various guitar magazines, and on the Internet. Bonamassa is another one of those blues prodigies, along the lines of Johnny Lang and Kenny Wayne Sheppard, who started playing guitar when he was only four years old, after hearing Stevie Ray Vaughan, and was playing many of Stevie's songs note-for-note by the time he was six. That's right SIX! Shit, it took me until I was at least seven until I was that good. By the time he was thirteen, Prodigy Boy was opening for BB King and blowing away blues fans in his midst. He was still only 24 years old at this performance.
I was expecting a short two or three song, cheaply produced DVD, when I first popped this into my player, but it turned out to be a complete, two-hour, 13-song, concert performance that has better production quality than many of the DVDs that I paid $20 to get. The burning question is, is Joe Bonamassa the real deal? This DVD makes the case that HE MOST CERTAINLY IS!
As far as the production quality goes, I said it was great for a free bonus DVD, but it certainly doesn't compare to the big time production quality seen with Eric Clapton's One More Car, One More Rider, and many other recent DVDs. The only audio option is Dolby Digital stereo, but it was one of the better DD 2.0 mixes that I have come across. The bass was deep and clear, and the instrument separation was very good. The guitar mix was absolutely phenomenal. Joe's guitars were loud, clear, and powerful sounding. It's like each of my speakers were a little Marshal amplifier that Joe was plugged straight into.
Using Dolby Prologic II processing, the surrounds were used to project some of the crowd noise and to provide some concert ambience, and the center speaker projected the majority of the bands sound. I much preferred the straight stereo option, which gave a lot more punch to the guitar mix, and just sounded more natural overall. Both methods sounded good though. The video quality was surprisingly good here. It has a similar look as those "Ohne Filter - Musik Pur" In Concert series DVD's, since this was similarly recorded in a medium sized club and looks professionally done. The picture was not exceptionally clear and sharp, but the club concert atmosphere was captured remarkably well.
This concert was recorded at Piere's Entertainment Center, in Fort Wayne, Indiana, on December 21, 2001. The show started with Bonamassa unassumingly taking the stage and strapping on his Gibson Les Paul. As he is plugging in his guitar he greets the worshipping, capacity crowd with "It's so nice to be back here, I feel fucking great!" And fucking great he must have felt, because he proceeded to tear through a mix of 13 original and cover songs that had the crowd spellbound for his entire performance. Bonamassa certainly doesn't look like a blues guitar hero, he looks more like a slightly chubbier version of Macaulay Culkin. His vocals are surprisingly mature and "weathered" sounding for his age, and his singing reminds me a little of Robin Trower vocalist James Dewar, or maybe Greg Allman. I was thoroughly impressed by his effortless-looking ability to play the complex rhythm and lead guitar parts while simultaneously handling the lead vocals.
Bonamassa opened the show with a soaring version of "Cradle Rock", from his first album A New Day Yesterday, and showed off some pretty mean slide guitar work. The first thing that grabs your attention are the scantily-clad "dancers" on each side of the stage. It appears that several young ladies, who look like they were plucked right out of the strip club next door, take turns dancing for a song or two each. This must be a club requirement or something, because I can't imagine the band wanting to have this. A lot of the drunk, horny guys in the front rows were staring at the dancers more than the band.
Bonamassa also flexed his muscles on a couple of blues-rock classics, "Steppin Out" and "Rice Pudding", who's abbreviated versions were combined into a sort of two song medley. These versions were so gritty and powerful that they made me think back to the good ol' days when Clapton still played with this much fire. The next several performances were all original songs from Bonamassa's debut album, and they ranged in style from Jimi Hendrix and Robin Trower, to Cream and Gary Moore. Each song is introduced with the song's title flashed momentarily across the bottom of the screen. This came in handy since the CD didn't include a separate booklet containing information about the DVD.
Piere's looks like an excellent club to see a concert. The stage is big, and the lighting rig was huge. Bonamassa's light show was outstanding and complemented his performance perfectly. Just before playing a fantastic version of Hendrix's "Are You Experienced?", to close the first set, Bonamassa finally gave his fans what they were waiting for - an extended guitar solo. His guitar technique is flawless and he pours all of his emotions into his playing. His powerful vibrato technique is in the same league as his hero Stevie Ray Vaughan.
His two bandmates didn't exactly embarrass him either. Eric Czar prefers the five-string bass and performed an excellent bass solo during the middle section of "Don't Burn Down That Bridge", which featured some impressive slap-bass, and even a little bit of Les Claypool inspired speed riffage. Drummer Kenny Kramme was also a rock solid piece of the rhythm section. This power trio generated a tremendously full and powerful sound for only three guys.
There was some backstage footage and interviews with the band members in their dressing room before the concert, and this was interjected between some of the song performances. Although I don't particularly like having the flow of the concert interrupted like this, it wasn't too distracting in this case. Each clip was less than a minute long and was only used between every two or three songs. The camera work was understated, but superb. Numerous unique camera angles were used to flaunt the brilliance of Bonamassa's playing as well as capture everything that makes an intimate club concert so exciting. Now I gotta see this guy live!
Steppin' Out/Rice Pudding
A New Day Yesterday
Miss You, Hate You
Walk In My Shadows
I Know Where I Belong
Colour And Shape
If Heartbreaks Were Nickels
Don't Burn Down That Bridge
Joe's Guitar Solo
Are You Experienced?
Had To Cry Today