Album Review by King Dale
LIVE FROM NEW YORK-BEACON THEATRE
Joe is at it again with his latest release, Beacon Theatre: Live From New York. It’s
certainly a place that’s near and dear to his heart. Having lived in the neighborhood, Joe
often walked by this historic theatre, hoping to one day see his name in lights on the huge
marquee above the entrance. Well that day came on November 5th of 2011, but before he
started his Beacon show, he thought he would take a stab at performing on the subway.
He set up shop on 72nd street. Joe played his heart out for everybody on the subway platform. Although he sounded great, not one person put a single cent in his guitar case.
Which brings me to the opening track. “72nd Subway Blues” is the actual recording of
his performance on the subway. So I guess in retrospect Joe’s cashing in on it after all.
Good for you brother. The following track is the opening number of the show. “Slow Train” starts off with that very heavy chugging sound of a locomotive building up speed. Little did I know that the sound was actually coming from a drum kit. Having seen Joe’s show in Boston two nights earlier, I couldn’t believe where the sound was coming from. Most guitar players are lucky to play with one great drummer. Joe gets to jam with two
(see Black Country Communion).
The show really picks up speed with one of my favorite songs; Rory Gallagher’s
“Cradle Rock”. There’s nothing like a hard rockin’, ass kickin’ song to get your blood flowing. I’d personally would like to thank Joe for keeping Rory’s music alive. As he continued jammin’ into “When the Fire Hits the Sea”, he had the capacity crowd eating out of his hands. While he had the crowd mesmerized, he brought them into a touching tribute to his late friend Gary Moore. “Midnight Blues” is definitely Joe at his finest. I do consider him the modern day riff king, but when he’s belting out the blues, it doesn’t get much better then that.
The next two songs were both written by Joe. “Dust Bowl”, the title track from his previous studio album, and “The River”, which comes from the album Had to Cry Today.Having followed Joe throughout his career, I’m very impressed with his growth as a song writer. He has really written some great songs as of late. In fact, his latest studio album Driving Towards the Daylight may be his best work to date (check it out). Like many artists before him, Joe came to the Beacon with some special guests. He starts off with Beth Hart, with whom he had recorded an album with, which was released earlier last year. The two songs they performed “I’ll Take Care of You” and “Sinner’s Prayer” were both from that album. After that, disk one closes with a pair of blues standards. “You Better Watch Yourself” and “Steal Your Heart Away” both tastefully done, with Joe making them his own.
Disc two starts off with another one of Joe’s best original songs. “Bird on a Wire” from the Black Rock LP has certainly become one of Joe’s live staples ever since he wrote it. It’s a great song with some superb guitar work. Speaking of superb, his next guest John Hiatt, may be one of the best American song writers of his time. As he played “Down Around My Place” and “I Know a Place” with Joe and the band, you could feel the joy coming from them as they jammed with one of their heroes. John Hiatt is definitely a musician’s musician.
Another classic track from the Black Rock album is “Blue and Evil”. A great song with an incredible groove. A lot of guitar players like to over play, but Joe really seems to have a good feel for his songs and how to pace them out. It amazes me how a musician with this much maturity is only thirty five years old. Having been raised on British blues and hard rock, it must have been quite a thrill for Joe to play with Paul Rogers. He and Paul did not disappoint. He sang his ass off on two classics from his early days with Free. The band did a great job on both “Walk In My Shadows” and “Fire and Water”. Joe certainly had a good time cutting loose too. His solo on “Fire and Water” sure was sweet. He has come a long way since he first covered “Walk in my Shadows” on his debut album.
Just when you thought it couldn’t possibly get any better. Joe played an incredible intro for the very emotional song “Mountain Time”. Making his guitar sound like a violin reminded me of when I first saw Joe back in 2005. He was at the front of the stage, standing on top of a set of chrome plated diamond plate stairs, wearing a pair of jeans and t-shirt, with hair flowing down to his shoulders and making that guitar sing like a pair of love birds. He might be a little more polished nowadays but that guitar is still singing rather sweetly.
Joe closes the show with a song first covered by The Who on their Live at Leeds album. “Young Man Blues”, certainly got the crowd jacked up. He really seemed to have a lot of fun with it. Jamming on those heavy chords. He had to be living out some Pete Townshend fantasy. I bet when he’s at home he does the windmill just like the rest of us.
I highly recommend this album. If your not familiar with Joe, it’s time you got on board. This dude is smooth. If you really want to treat yourself. It’s also on video. The Blu-ray sounds awesome. Buy yours now.