Joe Bonamassa @ Utilita Arena, Birmingham – Sunday 14th May 2023


The incredible Joe Bonamassa stopped off in Birmingham for his first show in the City for some five years, and the expectant crowd were rewarded with a show that cemented his reputation as simply one of the very best live performers around. For two hours, JB held the audience in the palm of his hand and they could only marvel at his guitar wizardry, which at times was simply unbelievable. Taking the stage at 8 ‘o’ clock sharp, he kicked off with the muscular ‘Evil Mama’ from 2018’s Redemption, a really strong number that set the show up nicely with Joe in fine voice to go alongside his catchy blues riffing.

We are then straight into the title track from 2011’s Dust Bowl, with its lyric that reflects the difficult times we live in and still just as relevant more than a decade on, driven along by some stinging guitar and stomping bass and drums. At times it was easy to forget that JB was not the only musician on stage, and he was well supported by some truly talented folk in drummer Lamar Carter, Calvin Turner on bass, Reece Wynans on keyboards and guitarist Josh Smith, along with backing vocalists Jade MacRae and Danielle De Andrea. 2021’s Time Clocks was yet another strong and cohesive studio album, and the deliberate mid-tempo shuffle of ‘The Heart That Never Waits’ really came to life on stage with the aforementioned backing vocalists shining in the chorus.

Bristling with blues emotion and hard rock energy, the performance ebbed and flowed between the downright raucous and slow and groovy, dipping in and out of JB’s own material alongside some well-chosen covers. And, naturally, his legendary collection of immaculate guitars were very much in evidence as he highlighted a good variety throughout the evening. A sizzling version of ZZ Top’s ‘Just Got Paid’ was an incredible closing number which segued into Led Zep’s ‘Dazed and Confused’, providing  a truly thrilling conclusion and worth the price of admission alone. Of course he returned for an encore and the one song that UK audiences always demand, the formidable ‘Sloe Gin’.

Seemingly on a never ending tour, the remainder of the year sees Joe back in Europe for festivals in the summer before an extensive US tour in the fall. There is also the tantalising prospect of a much anticipated reunion with Glenn Hughes and Black Country Communion further down the road. Undoubtedly one of the hardest working musicians around with numerous top-notch releases over the last twenty years, tonight’s show proved that witnessing Joe Bonamassa live is a truly joyous experience.


Evil Mama

Dust Bowl

Love Ain’t a Love Song

Self-Inflicted Wounds

Just ‘Cos You Can Don’t Mean You Should

I Want to Shout About It

Double Trouble

I Didn’t Think She Would Do It

A Conversation With Alice

The Heart That Never Waits

Lonely Boy

Just Got Paid


Sloe Gin

All photos by Pete Key