This is the first time I’ve been to Glasgow’s Royal Concert Hall for a gig. Unfortunately the interior isn’t quite as posh as the name might suggest. It looks like it was designed with corporate events in mind and while clean and bright it looks like it has been designed to be as bland, inoffensive, and undistracting as possible and has a board room quality to it. Thankfully we’re not here to admire the architecture, or lack thereof, instead the crowd here tonight has come to see a guy who has re-shaped instrumental rock guitar and is considered to be one the greatest rock guitarists today: Joe Satriani.
Joe is here supporting his excellent new album Shockwave Supernova (the Moshville review is available here) and I’m looking forward to hearing how the new material translates into the live arena.
First off is the support act: the critically acclaimed South African blues rock guitarist and singer-song writer Dan Patlansky. I have to admit that even though Dan’s début album Standing at the Station came out in 1999 I wasn’t aware of his work. According to his biography his last album Dear Silent Thieves, released in 2014, was voted the number one blues rock album for 2014 by ‘Blues Rock Review’ so I was interested in seeing him play.
Normally at gigs the support act has a noticeably smaller crowd than the main act, not so in this case. There’s quite a turnout to see Dan and his 3-piece band run through their set of very tightly played blues. Dan really gives it his all when soloing, grimacing with veins standing out on his neck. In one of his instrumentals he bangs his guitar around Hendrix style, allowing it to feedback, while playing his wah-wah pedal. It’s quite a display of showmanship but is also quite a cool effect. The highlight of the set was probably, the almost Lenny Kravitz’esqe, at least to my ear, song “Backbite” which is the single from his latest album. Its simplicity, catchiness, and groove make it stand out from the rest of the set. His brand of blues rock goes down well with this Glasgow crowd and if you’re a fan of this genre then definitely get along early and check Dan and his band out.
With a large projected backdrop of a star field, and swirling galaxies, Mr Joe Satriani takes to the stage. Dressed in black with his trademark sun shades, the band launches into the title track of the new album Shockwave Supernova. His axe of choice for the first song was one of the much sought after, and rare Ibanez JS25ART guitars. These were produce to commemorate 25 years of Joe’s JS signature guitar and there were 50 guitars made all hand illustrated by Joe himself. They look and sound amazing.
A quick change of guitar, to what looks like a purple JS2450MCP, and we’re into the much loved classic “Flying in a Blue Dream”. The first couple of bars bring a huge cheer from the crowd. The song may be over 25 years old now but good songs never grow old.
The spotlight is always on Joe during the first couple of songs but we’re treated to some solo spots from all the members of his band: Brian (Thunderbeast) Beller, who has played with the likes of Steve Vai, and the Aristocrats; Mike Keneally (guitar/keyboards); and drummer Marco Minnemann from the Aristocrats. It’s quite a line-up and the guys do a great job. Marco’s drum solo in particular goes down very well and he even receives a standing ovation from some of the crowd here tonight (quite possibly the drummers in the audience).
With such a massive back catalog it must be difficult for Joe to pick out his set-list and keep everyone happy. It’s great to hear that so many songs off the new album made it into the set including the title track, “On Peregrine Wings”, “If there is no Heaven”, “Goodbye Supernova”, “Cataclysmic”, “All my Life”, and one of the highlights of the evening for me the beautiful “Butterfly and Zebra”. It’s a nice mix of old and new.
Joe is of course fantastic. What else can you say really. He always makes his playing look so effortless, and if you’ve ever tried to sit down with a guitar and learn any of his songs then you quickly come to realise that’s no mean feat. It’s obvious he still loves playing and can be seen smiling throughout the set while he grooves along to the music. I didn’t hear a single bad note from him, it was just absolute perfection.
A smoke machine, an ever-changing backdrop of videos and pictures, and four huge columns of lights spanning the stage provide the stage show and compliment the music completely. It’s an impressive set-up.
The band move through the songs sometimes with little or no gaps like a well oiled machine. Joe chats now and again between the songs but this show is really about the music.
“Goodbye Supernova” is the last song before the encore and the band leave to a standing ovation and chants for more. Thankfully there’s more and we’re regaled with fan favourites “Satch Boogie” and “Big Bad Moon”, complete with harmonica solo. The last song of the evening is “Surfing with the Alien” which features a very cool silver surfer animation backdrop. It’s a fitting end to a great show.
Joe is playing only nine dates in the UK so grab yourself some tickets and get along to one of his shows. It’s an amazing night and you won’t be disappointed. Hopefully we’ll see Joe back in Glasgow again soon.
Joe Satriani’s Set List
- Shockwave Supernova
- Flying in a blue dream
- Ice 9
- Crystal Planet
- Not of this Earth
- On Peregrine Wings
- If I Could Fly
- Butterfly and Zebra
- If there is no Heaven
- Crazy Joey
- All of my life
- Luminous Flesh Giants
- Always with me, Always with you
- God is Crying
- Goodbye Supernova
- Satch Boogie
- Big Bad Moon
- Surfing with the Alien