Topic: Orpheum Theatre - Omaha, NE 8/5/22
Last night was the second time I have seen Joe & company at the Orpheum Theatre...
As I said the last time (2018), this is a great old-school venue in the heart of downtown Omaha, Joe's usual type of venue...
Thanks to the fan pre-sale I got a terrific seat, Row A, Seat 104...
I was just to the stage right side of Joe's mic...
...but he spent plenty of time right in front of me! It helped that the threramin was on my side of the stage!
The last time Joe played this venue there was a HUGE issue with getting people into the place in a timely manner (it was the only Joe show I have ever attended that did NOT start on the dot at 8:00 PM). The Orpheum learned it's lesson, though, and this time getting in was a breeze even though they still check you with some sort of big scanner you had to walk through. The biggest difference was we didn't have to empty pockets or do any of the other TSA-style stuff that slowed things to a crawl last time. Since I bagged on the Orpheum the last time I felt I needed to sing their praises this time!
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As for the show itself...
The Guitars (in order of appearance, songs played on shown in parentheses - remember, I'm not the expert some here are):
A gorgeous red ES 355 with gold hardware, including the Bigsby (1)
Les Paul burst, looked like Snakebite (2, 3, 5, 11)
A second LP burst, looked much like the first one except the pickup covers were off exposing a zebra set at each position (4, 6, 9)
The '51 Nocaster, aka The Bludgeon (7, 15)
A two-pickup Firebird (8)
The '58 Flying V, aka Amos (10, 14)
A bright red hardtail Strat with a rosewood fretboard (12)
The natural finish Telecaster Thinline with the B-bender (13)
The set list opened with five songs I call the "fan service" portion of the show. These were, in order:
I Didn't Think She Would Do It
Just 'Cos You Can Don't Mean You Should
The heart of the show was the material from Time Clocks, of course. They skipped Pilgrimage, obviously, and they also didn't play Hanging On a Loser. Time Clocks was moved to the end of this portion of the set because it is such an obvious choice for that spot, so we got almost the whole album ("mostly," as Joe put it) in order:
The Heart That Never Waits
Questions and Answers
The Loyal Kind
Then we got to the set closer and the encore, which were, in order:
The Ballad of John Henry
Mahalia, Dani, and Jade were on hand, and were excellent (although my HUGE crush on Jade remains unrequited). Josh was fine, and Reese showed yet again why he is in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Steve was splendid on bass, and to my mind somewhat more forward in the mix than I'm used to, which was a good thing. Lemar not only killed it on the drum kit, he also ran the multimedia portion of the show (more on that later). Without getting into the fracas about Joe's band lineups, I just want to say that Joe is mostly who I come to see and hear, and to my mind the more he enjoys playing with the people sharing the stage with him (as he always seems to, no matter who it is) the better HE plays.
Speaking of The Master, he was in outstanding form, and there were several moments where his command of his instruments was nothing short of jaw-dropping. There may be more gray hairs than there used to be, but he hasn't lost a step!
As I mentioned up above, the theramin is back for this tour, as it was last fall. I'm fine with that, and as he did last fall Joe used it with restraint. He used it while playing the Firebird on Curtain Call and while playing Amos on TBOJH.
The big news is the stage-spanning projection scrim he's using on this tour. There are movie clips and other special graphics playing on it throughout the show, each of them designed to fit a particular song. I was especially impressed by the stuff used for Dust Bowl, Mind's Eye, Time Clocks, and TBOJH.
The coup de grace, though, was what they projected during the encore, i.e., breathtaking shots of majestic mountains and video of an eagle flying. Mountain Time always brings me to tears, but watching those images as the sound washed over me had me in a puddle by the end of the song...
The music combined with those images put me in mind of one of my favorite passages in all of American literature:
...and there is a Catskill eagle in some souls that can alike dive down into the blackest gorges, and soar out of them again and become invisible in the sunny spaces. And even if he forever flies within the gorge, that gorge is in the mountains; so that even in his lowest swoop the mountain eagle is still higher than the other birds upon the plain, even though they soar.
- Herman Melville, Moby Dick
Joe Bonamassa is without a doubt one such soul, and I look forward to many more opportunities to listen to him soar in person...
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UPDATE: For a more accurate account of both the guitars and amps Joe is playing on this tour, check out this Premier Guitar rig rundown with Joe himself laying it all out for us... https://youtu.be/GuVfNjuz2XM
Kansas City, MO