By Clare McCabe
Artist: Joe Satriani
Date / Venue: Saturday November 1st, Aotea Centre, Auckland
Mr Satriani returned to NZ on his Unstoppable Momentum Tour last night and the audience were certainly ready for him.
ASB Theatre was pretty much at capacity with a mixed crowd of laid-back fans ready for some guitar magic. This venue is obviously a favorite for guitar acts - perhaps because the sound is so great?
A few numbers from the support band, a heavy three-piece who clearly enjoyed themselves and then here comes the man himself, in his signature shades/black t-shirt combo.
Joining Satriani on this tour we have the fabulous Bryan Beller on bass guitar (looking very 90s with that great Chris Cornell-esqe hair), Mr Mike Keneally masters keyboards AND guitar and backing everyone up from behind the kit we have drummer Marco Minnemann.
Straight away we see these guys are super tight together and loving every minute of playing live. The master is in the building with us tonight.
And off they go into 2 hours of solid guitar greatness. The spotlight (literally) is clearly on Mr Satriani at all times (as it should be) but there are a few solos throughout from Beller and Keneally and a spectacular drum solo towards the end from Mr Minnemann. We also get some great guitar dueling between Satriani and Keneally. Love. It.
Watching Satriani's fingers play up close is fascinating (try and get a seat close to the front people). Sure you can watch clips of him on YouTube, but nothing beats an actual live venue full of fans who are all there to experience the same greatness as you.
We get the Satch Boogie. We are treated to Always With Me, Always With You (my particular fave). Surfing with the Alien makes an appearance towards the end obviously. There is quite literally a continuous wall of sound coming from the stage. Fingers fly, as does Mr Beller's hair. There is a little bit of teeth action - a la Hendrix. The guys all have their own little vibe going at times, but it all flows together beautifully. Imagine playing in Satriani's band - must be a satisfying gig for all of them.
Meanwhile, videos play behind the band to compliment various songs. There are waves, the solar system, waterfalls, cities at night and even a brief glimpse of Mr Satriani himself from way back when he had long, flowing hair.
"Feels great to be back on stage", says Joe in a break between tunes. Yes it shows. Happy faces all round as I check out the crowd. Good times.
And then we are close to the end. The guys finish up Surfing the Alien and leave the stage, only to return minutes later for a short encore and everyone in the crowd is on their feet to greet them back on stage.
What a night. No gimmicks here people. Just two hours of pure guitar genius. Nights like this remind you of how important it is to still pay your $ to see acts live. Catch this tour if you can - you will leave the building happy. Joe and his pals will guarantee it. Thanks guys - come back soon.