The Glasgow Royal Concert Hall is one of my favourite venues in Glasgow for concerts, yet it seems the only person I can ever see play there is Joe Satriani and his support acts. If you do have to associate a musician with an excellent venue though, you might as well make it an excellent musician. Joe Satriani fits that description rather well, don’t you think?
The merchandise was sadly a little pricey for my wallet this time, with a pack of picks going for £15. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not a sky high price, but for objects that I’m almost guaranteed to lose it’s not the best investment. However, a pleasant whisky to enjoy a seated guitar show is a very good investment indeed.
Opening the show with some outstanding bluesy guitar work, Dan Patlansky was a surprise to me. I went in unfamiliar with the man, but by the end of the show I was happy to put my name into the fan column. I won’t be surprised when he himself is playing venues like the Concert Hall down the road, but he might be more comfortable over in the Howlin’ Wolf.
The break between Patlansky and Satch saw the usual stampede out the auditorium, with the panic choice of toilet or bar being strongly contested. When everyone had successfully navigated the queues, the PA announced the show was due to start and we took our seats.
Opening with Shockwave Supernova, you can’t help but smile seeing the man himself walk out with the ever present signature Ibanez and sunglasses look. Special mention really has to go to Mike Keneally on guitars and keyboards though. When I say guitars and keyboards, I also don’t mean those two to be mutually exclusive. Midsong finds Keneally playing both at the same time, further solidifying the “I’m selling my guitar on eBay” vibe present in the room.
Joe Satriani – Shockwave Supernova
Flying in a Blue Dream followed, and as always I have no memory of it. For some reason, FIABD is like an off switch to my brain, I hear that clean guitar, the feedback scream of the guitar and I’m gone into my own head like an old Windows Media Player music display. To hell with spas and hypnotism and all that, just stick this song on and relax.
The set was a solid mix of old classics, surprise songs from the back catalogue and a very healthy supply from the latest album. It’s no surprise to find songs like Ice 9, Surfing With The Alien, Satch Boogie and Always With Me, Always With You from Surfing With The Alien, but tracks like Luminous Flesh Giants were entirely unexpected. Big Bad Moon was also a pleasant surprise, along with If I could Fly. I was also very happy to hear God is Crying again because of that gloriously meaty kick in.
The only issue I had with the set was trying to stay fully conscious. With a terrible sleep the night before then a darkened room with beautiful guitars, it was essentially like entering a living lullaby. I managed it though, with the help of Marco Minnemann’s utterly crushing drums along with Brian Bellers bass, both fighting my eyes open.
Satriani is one of the least self-focussed of the big guitar players. His whole band get their time in the spotlight, with Joe stepping off so as not to draw focus. However, when he’s on, it’s all systems go. The combination of his playing plus the video screens often made for a mesmerising experience, though watching his fingers dance over the fret board was enough of a show.
I mentioned people selling their gear on eBay after, but in reality I would say most were inspired. Satriani doesn’t rely on flash and spectacle and as such, he almost makes it look easy. Still, I do wish I had taken up keyboard instead, at least it’s harder to see someone hitting the keys live so you can pretend it’s easier than it is.
A twenty two (or so) long setlist is easily value for money for this sort of show, and you almost got the feeling that if he didn’t have to get off stage and hit the road he could have happily stayed and played more. With a set of that length it also means he can showcase the latest album while still delivering a full set of old favourites, a ratio so many bands often fail to achieve, falling on either side of the “too many new/too many old” songs line.
If for some reason you still haven’t seen him live, go. Simple as that.