By Terry Marland, Rock At Night Manchester
Live Review: Joe Satriani – Manchester Bridgewater Hall -The Earth Tour -Sunday 14th May
Joe Satriani is a celebrated guitarist and also known as a distinguished teacher of the instrument. Tonight he dispenses a guitar masterclass to a doting Manchester audience.
The Bridgewater Hall is a stunning venue, constructed in the 1990s with the emphasis being on creating a principal concert hall for Manchester. Its imaginative structure and majestic audience space creates a unique atmosphere and is the perfect setting for premier performers.
This tour was originally scheduled for 2020 under the banner of Joe Satriani’s, then, latest album ‘Shapeshifting”. The pandemic put paid to that tour and confined Satriani and his band to base. Undaunted, they recorded “The Elephants of Mars” album during their downtime. Consequentially audiences on this tour are privileged to see Satriani showcase tracks from both albums. With no support tonight, the stage is set for two and a half hours of virtuoso guitar.
Performing in his band Satriani has the considerable talents of Kenny Aronoff on drums, Brian Beller on bass and Rai Thistlewayte on Keyboards.
Emerging just after eight o’clock Satriani, clad in black with his trademark sunglasses, takes to the stage, briefly accepts the adulation of the crowd and launches straight into a scorching “Nineteen Eighty” from the aforementioned Shapeshifting album. Throughout the evening the screen backdrop displays an array of images to compliment the music and includes videos from yesteryear to accompany vintage tracks.
The setlist tonight has been tried and tested throughout the tour and is beautifully balanced to deliver the newer tracks intertwined with seasoned favourites. The atmospheric “Sahara” is followed by the spiralling soundscape of “Elephants of Mars” that is extended to include a stunning Hendrix style guitar sequence. Stopping briefly to address the audience, Satriani thanks them for their patience in waiting so long for the tour to commence, introduces the band and then plunders the back catalogue for the next sequence starting with “Ice 9” and follows up with a glorious “Thunder High on the Mountain”.
An extended “Spirits Ghosts and Outlaws” has the band in overdrive while the pace slows for the poignant and melancholic “Faceless”.
Satriani is master of his craft. The audience, which includes a fair few guitarists, can only look on in admiration at this exhibition of fretboard wizardry . His command of the instrument is otherworldly and he is rightly regarded as a modern guitar great.
A mend-bending first half closes with the 1992 classic “Summer Song” with a backdrop of the original video that has the crowd applauding furiously.
After a very brief interval the second half opens with an inspired drum solo from Kenny Aronoff that gives way to a blistering “Energy” from the What Happens Next album. Then it’s time for Rai Thislewayte to have the stage to himself for a dazzling keyboard solo.
The two latest albums again feature heavily with the autobiographical “E 104th St NYC 1973” one of the highlights of the night for me. The jazz / soul vibe conjuring up images of night time New York. “Ali Farka, Dick Dale an Alien and Me” is a surreal and heartfelt tribute to two guitarists that inspired Satriani and see Joe seamlessly adopt the styles of both alongside his own.
The tail end of the concert, as you’d expect, concentrates on older material and includes an encore of “The Crowd Chant” before rounding off the evening with “Surfing with the Alien.”
This concert has been eagerly awaited and the audience has been rewarded for their patience with a display of guitar genius.
The tour continues across the UK and Europe. Find full details HERE:
The Elephants of Mars
Thunder High on the Mountain
One Big Rush
Blue Foot Groovy
Flying in a Blue Dream
Spirits Ghosts and Outlaws
E 104th St. NYC 1973
Ali Farka, Dick Dale,an Alien and Me
If I Could Fly
Always With Me Always With You
Surfing With the Alien
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