earMUSIC [Release date 28.06.19]
Generation Axe, coordinated by Guitar God Steve Vai, brought together a summit of shredders from 2016 when the circus toured North America. Subsequent sorties saw them in Asia, when this outing was recorded in April 2017. Towards the end of 2018 they returned to North America. Sadly, perhaps for some, they have never made it to the UK although the Satriani fret fest ‘G3′ made it here in 2018.
The problem with a guitar extravaganza is the contrasting styles and the tendency for fretting flamboyance, sometimes overshadowing good taste as even great guitar players are caught in the moment. For this reason, this account of the show will only really appeal to inveterate shredders and wannabe guitar nerds.
Stepping up to the plate with head-honcho Steve Vai (who contributes a thankfully listenable ‘Bad Horsie’) are Extreme’s Nuno Bettencourt, Yngwie Malmsteen, Zakk Wylde and the lesser known Tosin Abasi (Animals As Leaders).
All have a couple of tunes (sometimes “duets”) before the almighty blow-out of ‘Frankenstein’ and ‘Highway Star’. It is perhaps invidious to single out performances, they are all of a standard, but Abasi’s melodic figures on the Purple classic are convincing if somewhat isolated in this context.
It’s evident that this is a compilation of their show, a snapshot, which omits the later opener ‘Hocus Pocus’ reminding us that even five shredders can’t hold a candle to that song’s original melodic shred protagonist. Where is Akkerman when you need him? And Zakk Wylde’s solo turn is an (admittedly) incendiary take on the Allman’s ‘Whipping Post’ when he also played a couple of Sabbath songs on the night.
There’s no DVD/Bluray of this gig (although plenty of complete YouTube footage) so the nerds will have some fun identifying the players in the ensemble pieces. ***
Review by David Randall
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