Photos/Review by Greg Hamil for MPM
It has been a long while since I have covered a show at the Coronado Performing Arts Center in Rockford, IL. The venue has hosted concerts, comedians, plays, symphonies, and movies since 1927.
In 1999, the venue closed to undergo a 2-year renovation in which the beautiful theater was restored to its original glory and was made to be acoustically perfect. The nice thing about covering shows in Rockford is that it is only minutes away from home.
It is November in the Mid-west, so the temperatures are dropping, but that is fine as it also means an uptick in shows at gorgeous venues like this. In an acoustically perfect theater, who better to perform than Joe Bonamassa! A blues guitarist and vocalist who got his start opening for legendary B.B. King at age 12.
Admittedly, it has only been within the last couple of years that was introduced to Joe Bonamassa’s music. That was unfortunate for me as in that time I have come to realize just how amazing of a musician he is. A fact that only makes me feel unfortunate that I hadn’t paid more attention over the years.
As I enter the theater, I am not 100% sure that the show is sold out. But if it isn’t is has to be very close as I couldn’t see very many empty seats. Another thing I notice is that if you are a late arriving attendee, you are in trouble as Joe Bonamassa has no opening act and starts his show promptly at 8:00 p.m. and finishes just shy of 10:00 p.m. This works out perfectly for audience members who work, especially on a weeknight show.
As the lights dim on the theater, Tom Petty’s, “The Waiting” blasts through the speakers which brings a buzz to the entire crowd in the theater. Throughout the song, the band begins to take their place on stage. As the song ended, the lights pop Bonamassa is center stage with his trademark suit and sunglasses. He erupts into “Hope You Realize it” from his latest album “Blues Deluxe Vol 2”. We are off and running!
Without missing a beat, the band transitions directly into “Twenty-four Hour Blues” and the crowd was on its feet as Bonamassa delivers an incredible solo. Staying with the up-tempo style, the band follows up with “Well I Done Got Over It”. We were only three songs into the set and was already hearing individual crowd members shouting out, “Go Joe!” and “Kill it Joe!”.
As the set continued, we heard songs like, “Self-Inflicted Wounds” and “I Want to Shout About It” before slowing things down with “The Last Matador of Bayonne”. During a brief break in the show, Bonamassa talked about how they had been to Rockford, IL several times over the years and how much they appreciated the crowds that have come out to their shows and how much they love playing in places as beautiful as the Coronado Theater.
They continued the set with “Curtain Call” that featured a segment with Bonamassa on the Theremin. After the song, he takes time to introduce the band. Josh Smith on guitar, Calvin Turner on bass, Reece Wynans on keyboards, Lemar Carter on drums, and Dannielle De Andrea and Jade Macrae on backing vocals.
Along the way he talks about how he and a couple of band members are from Los Angeles, CA and how “f@#ked” that state is. This draws a laugh from the crowd. He also makes a slam on Spotify by talking about his 27 cent royalty checks and how he is going to take the band out for McDonalds Chicken Nuggets the next day.
After that interaction with the crowd, Bonamassa continued the set with “The Hear That Never Waits”, “Is It Safe to Go Home”, and Fleetwood Mac cover “Lazy Poker Blues. Everyone in attendance knew the set had to be close to the end, so the applause, cheering, and yelling reached epic proportions.
As expected, Bonamassa announced that it was time for the last song of the night. On queue, the band launched into ZZ Top cover “Just Got Paid”. As the song came to an end, the entire band waved and walked off as the crowd came to their feet wanting more. After several minutes of clapping and cheering, Bonamassa and company re-emerged to play their encore, “Mountain Time”. As the song came to an end, the entire band came to center stage for one final bow.
Two notes for the night. If you are ever in the Rockford, IL area and there is a show at the Coronado Performing Arts Center, seriously consider going. It is by far, one of the most beautiful venues I have ever seen. Second; if you have never heard Joe Bonamassa before, take the time to discover his music. You will NOT be disappointed. And whether you have heard of him or not, and he is in your area, do all you can to check out his show. You will not regret it!
Setlist: Hope You Realize It (Goodbye Again) – Twenty-four Hour Blues – Well, I Done Got Over It – Self-Inflicted Wounds – I Want To Shout About It – The Last Matador of Bayonne – Curtain Call – The Heart That Never Waits – Is It Safe to Go Home – Lazy Poker Blues – Just Got Paid – Mountain Time