An Acoustic Evening at the Vienna Opera House 

[J&R Adventures]

Anyone who reserves a page of his concert DVD’s booklet for a list of guitars he plays on the disc is obviously after the gearheads. (For the record, a 1974 Martin D-41, a 2012 Gibson SJ-200 and Guild F-512 12-string are among the dozens of acoustics listed.) And up until about a year or so ago, Joe Bonamassa mostly appealed to fellow instrumentalists, who could appreciate the 36-year-old’s proficiency and dexterity on the six- and 12-strings. But then he released 2012’s Driving Towards the Daylight, a bluesy roots rock ’n’ roll explosion that pushed him near the Top 20. So how did he celebrate his most electrifying and American album? By playing stripped-down acoustic shows in European venues accustomed to hosting classical music.

An Acoustic Evening at the Vienna Opera House (also available on CD) documents one of the tour’s most hallowed stops. Bonamassa and his four-man band, also equipped with acoustic instruments, check in with a performance that’s as technically impressive as it is emotionally stirring. The 100-minute, 20-song set mixes rustic originals with vintage blues covers, and they all fold together in a seamless, lively performance that confirms Bonamassa’s standing as one of the best bluesmen of the millennium. (There’s also a bonus disc with behind-the-scenes footage and other extras.) His own gorgeous “Around the Bend” is a highlight, as are the covers of Charley Patton’s “High Water Everywhere,” Robert Johnson’s “Stones in My Passway,” Chris Whitley’s “Ball Peen Hammer” and Tom Waits’ “Jockey Full of Bourbon.” Bonamassa’s a first-rate ace when he plugs in—An Acoustic Evening reveals he’s just as dynamic when he doesn’t. –Michael Gallucci


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