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Manchester Apollo 15 May 2008

Photos by Lee Millward/GRTR!

Joe Satriani

The opening number really said it all, spelt out on the impressive LED backdrop. 'I Just Wanna Rock' might not be Joe Satriani's signature tune (yet) but I think it sums up his musical view over a career spanning two decades or more.

This gig - halfway into an all-too-short and rare UK tour - was a masterclass in sustained quality and high energy.

Two hours plus of head-on guitar pyrotechniques may instil the fear of God into many listeners and I have no doubt that the majority of the sell-out audience were confirmed guitar nerds. But Joe Satriani manages to introduce enough light and shade into the process so that only the most unimaginative music fan would baulk at the prospect.

Naturally Satch was promoting his very fine new album and several tracks sat very well amongst some of his older material. 'Revelation' - coming mid-way into the set - was a real corker, and one of the highlights. This has an absorbing melodic twist and turn before breaking into trademarked Satch sonic meltdown.

This went well with the older track 'Cryin' another slow-burn with every note perfectly intonated and all emotion duly wrenched.

Joe Satriani

On the more upbeat material, the new tracks 'Overdriver', and 'Musterion' came over well together with old faithfuls 'Ice 9' and 'Satch Boogie'. There was a welcome outing for 'One Big Rush' from 1989's 'Flying In A Blue Dream'. The only real dip, in what was an incredible virtuoso performance from end to end, was 'Time Machine' - the sort of guitar muso navel-gazing piece that gives the instrumental guitar genre a bad name.

Joe Satriani and Stu Hamm

Things soon picked up, though, with a slight interlude when Stu Hamm (who reminds me of a younger 'Duck' Dunn) thumped the hell out of his bass and then into 'Mystical Potato Head Groove Thing ' and Surfin' With The Alien', and a rousing encore 'Crowd Chant' and 'Summer Song'.

With one of the best sound mixes I have heard at this venue, all credit to Satriani's sidemen too, including second guitarist and tour manager Galen Henson. Although evidently low in the mix he did provide a useful counterpoint filling in the spaces where necessary although in truth there weren't many of those tonight either in the audience or in the music.

Joe Satriani and Galen Henson


Review by David Randall

Photos by Lee Millward/GRTR!

Best of 2008

Set list:

I Just Wanna Rock
Satch Boogie
Ice 9
Flying In A Blue Dream
Super Colossal
One Big Rush
Out Of The Sunrise
Time Machine
Cool #9
Bass Solo
Mystical Potato Head Groove Thing
Always With Me...
Surfing With The Aliens


Crowd Chant
Summer Song


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***** Out of this world | **** Pretty damn fine |
*** OK, approach with caution unless you are a fan |
** Instant bargain bin fodder | * Ugly. Just ugly

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