“Greetings, Edinburgh,” saluted the wildly popular new generation American blues rocker Joe Bonamassa, a full three quarters of the way into his set, informing us that “we’ve played a whole Scottish tour this time – we’ve been to Aberdeen and now we’re in Edinburgh”.
No luck, then, for the Glaswegian who came up to chat outside the venue earlier in the day and rebuked such sentiments with a gruff “Aberdeen doesn’t count.”
For the 3,000-plus who packed this show out, however, the set had the air of a pilgrimage. Although the 36-year-old guitarist, originally from Oneida County in upstate New York, is probably too young to have earned the “legend” tag, his music is perfectly moulded for elder fans, largely gentlemen, who tend to put their idols on a pedestal. The choice of covers reflected this, including appearances from the vaults of Howlin’ Wolf, Eric Clapton and Gary Moore, with a blazing version of the instrumental outro from the Who’s Won’t Get Fooled Again appearing near the end.
This sense that he’s part of a predestined lineage is Bonamassa’s strength and his weakness. With a three-piece band who look like a reformed biker gang, he seems somehow wasted on ploughing a furrow many others have been through already. With the volume turned up to punishing levels, his own music – the everyman iconography of Dislocated Boy, Driving Towards the Mountain’s desert balladry, the affecting Mountain Time – marry the styles of the past with youthful vitality to engrossing effect.