Concert Review with PHOTOS: Joe Satriani


By Mark Derricutt

Artist: Joe Satriani

Date / Venue: Tuesday December 4th, 2018 - The Powerstation, Auckland

What Happens Next?

Line up: Joe Satriani / Mike Keneally / Bryan Beller / Joe Travers

It was March 2005 at Auckland's St James Theatre; stuck in the last seat available at the furthest spot in the building. From the highest heavens I looked down - in the distance a bald-headed man in black sunglasses played a guitar - that was the first time I caught Joe Satriani live, but now I was squaring off face to face with the master himself - the teacher of the world's best guitarists.

Like many of my reviews, this also starts with my brother learning guitar - Surfing with the Alien entered our household and things were never the same again.

The night kick-starts in high gear with Energy and Catbot, from the latest album, What Happens Next? culminating in the classic song Satch Boogie - tonight's show was already far more engaging than what some other highly esteemed 80s guitar virtuoso delivered a few years back.

Visual backdrops play a mixture of "live" concert footage for effect but all eyes were on Joe: his fingers dancing over the fret board supported by a backing band that more than played a mere "supporting" role - with a line-up of Mike Keneally and Bryan Beller (Frank Zappa, Dweezil Zappa, Steve Vai) and newcomer Joe Travers - this was a solid cohesive band of musicians who knew just how to play off each other - no one was over being shadowed.

This puts me in a slight conundrum - I know the material backwards, and I know we'll hear something amazing, but that leaves me somewhat… I was going to say unexpectant - but as I write this down; mid-way through the first act’s closer Ice 9, Beller breaks into a hellish bass riff throw-down grooving interplay jam with Joe and Mike that was just what I wanted! This is the unexpected awesomeness that comes from a live experience over listening to an album.

Act two returns with the blues after a fifteen minute break, Sleep Walk, followed by the jazz styling of Cool #9 before we kick things back into overdrive as Headrush gives me just that - a full on instrumental head banging mosh before shifting into a drum solo from Joe Travers - this guy has some serious chops. Keneally is always a pleasure to see, and it's great to see Joe taking a spot in the rear to share the limelight as both Mike and Bryan take their fair share of things front and center before Joe rejoins the action for a twin guitar showdown.

There's no denying that Joe is the star of the show; yet there's no ego here. The galaxy is big enough for all.

Always with me.  Always with you.  So many memories and emotions come flooding to mind hearing this. Then we crash somewhat awkwardly into Summer Song. The song transition felt a little jarring but as we close act two I can find little to fault with the show.

Encore time - surfs up! This was a performance that was truly "not of this world" and that's what you expect when you go Surfing with an Alien!

Set List (based on Sydney):

  • Energy

  • Catbot

  • Satch Boogie

  • Cherry Blossoms

  • Flying In A Blue Dream

  • Thunder High on the Mountain

  • Ceremony

  • Cataclysmic

  • Ice 9

Set 2:

  • Sleep Walk (Santo & Johnny cover)

  • Cool #9

  • Headrush

  • Drum Solo

  • What Happens Next

  • Super Funky Badass

  • Always With Me, Always With You

  • Summer Song


  • Crowd Chant

  • Surfing With The Alien