If you’ve ever seen Joe Bonamassa in concert with his “regular” band in mega theatres, you’d be in for a pleasant surprise to catch him at the Baked Potato with his Rock Candy Funk Party. Gone is the shark suit, the shades, the vocals and the serious attitude of a leader. Here, as a fellow compatriot with Renato Neto/key, Tal Bergman/dr, Mike Merritt/b and Ron De Jesus/g, Bonamassa showed a different side of his musical persona, and it brought a smile to the face of both participants and audience.
“Greeting lovers of jazz rock” beamed Bonamassa as he and the band delivered material mostly from their latest album. Immediately after the greeting, the team dug into a hip backbeat of “Octopus” and the hard hitting “The Token Ballad” with Bergman’s sticks teaming with Merritt’s bass to provide an incessant avalanche of rhythm as Joe B seared through the rhythm with electrifying wizardry.
And fusion the music was, with Neto’s keyboards supplying electronic wah wahs that gave homage to Herbie Hancock’s Headhunters as Merritt’s thumb hammered out a lick on the torrid “In The Groove” while Bonamassa added Jeff Beck inspired guitar licks on his Les Paul for some searing solo her before creating some swampy blues on the slinky “This Tune Should Run For President.”
Switching to Fender, Bonamassa jumped in on Renato’s spacy intro to “ Cubes Brick” with some heavy metal thunder and then created some chunky bites of rifs on “We Want Groove” as Merritt added sweet nougats of bass propulsions.
The team showed it knew how to swing as well, as Bergman rat a tatted out an incessant beat for the relentless “Spaztastic” and then pumped the band into overdrive with an irresistibly shuffling “Rock Candy.”
Usually, a band at the Potato plays a pair of one hour sets, but Bonamassa and company were in such good mood, he refused to cut the evening in half. “We’re not gonna play the same songs in two sets and just shake them around like dice in a Yahtzee game” Joe B joked. “We’re here to play the music we love.” Even after 2 plus hours, with two encores, the packed house felt that it got its party favors in spades.