Up in the circle of the ornate Philharmonic Hall there was a distinct whiff of charity shop. This was a slightly bizarre change from the whiff of bowel disorder that one often encounters at gigs where the audience is of a certain age. But pungent aromas apart, the ‘Phil’ was perhaps too civilised a venue for heavy rock and controlled guitar feedback.
I spoke to Joe Satriani at the start of his European tour and at that time he was wrestling with how to condense four guitar parts into one. He shouldn’t have worried. When in doubt send for Keneally.
Satriani’s long standing keyboard player doubled up on guitar and, even if he looked like a Liberal councillor canvassing for your vote, he acted as an excellent foil for his leader and his sparring in songs like ‘Satch Boogie’ was laudable.
However, this gig – a wonderful and energising two hours – did reveal strengths and weaknesses in the Satriani set-up. The classics – among them the superb opener ‘Cool #9 ’, ’Ice 9′, ‘Flying In A Blue Dream’, and ‘Cryin” – were truly classic but the heavily featured new material was a bit patchy.
Satch’s last couple of albums have been less structured than of old. Songs like ‘The Weight Of The World’ and ‘Jumpin In’ rambled a bit whilst ‘Shine On American Dreamer’, ‘A Celebration’ and ’Three Sheets To The Wind’ seemed a little perfunctory. And I don’t think that is purely a lack of familiarity. Among the new pieces the title track and ‘Lies And Truths’ came over very well. But, strangely, one of the album’s other highlights ‘Can’t Go Back’ wasn’t played.
The real highlight tonight – apart from Mike Keneally’s dual duties – was definitely a supercharged version of ‘The Crush Of Love’ (from ‘Dreaming #11′) which Joe announced as a song he wrote whilst waiting for his wife to come home for dinner. Like the songs ‘Memories’ and ‘Why’ on the last tour (both sadly omitted from the current set) this is a melodic and infectious tour de force.
Throughout, there was great support from Bryan Beller on bass and Marco Minnemann on drums. However, the whiff of charity shop was never far away and sadly perhaps almost as overpowering as Satriani’s immaculate performance. I must remember to rinse my T-shirt more thoroughly in future.
Review by David Randall
Photos by Steve Goudie
David Randall presents ‘Assume The Position’ on Get Ready to ROCK! Radio every Sunday at 22:00 GMT.
Set-list: 1. Cool #9 2. Devil’s Slide 3. Flying in a Blue Dream 4.Unstoppable Momentum 5. The Weight of the World 6. Ice 9 7. The Crush of Love 8. I’ll Put A Stone On Your Cairn 9. A Door into Summer 10. Lies and Truths 11.Satch Boogie 12. Shine On American Dreamer 13.Three Sheets To The Wind 14. Cryin’ 15. Jumpin’ In 16. A Celebration 17. Always With Me, Always With You 19.Surfing with the Alien Encore: 20. Crowd Chant 21. Summer Song 22. Rubina
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