January 18, 2011
Dallas, TX USA
Review by Angela Patterson
Photos by Michael Insuaste
The Myth, The Master, The Man
The Granada Theater was packed January 18, 2011 for one of the biggest group guitar lessons in the Metroplex. Joe Satriani was in Dallas to promote his latest album "Black Swans and Wormhole Wizards," which was released in October.
Concerts are usually about the show, not the music - but not if you're Joe Satriani. The sweet grooves in Satch's guitar playing make you understand why lyrics and singing can be overkill. It's one thing to download a Satriani tune, but it's a completely different experience to attend his live show. The guitar virtuoso proved that his songs were full of emotion and not just a bunch of fancy riffs strung together. That's not to say it wasn't full of blistering licks - because it was.
The Granada Theater was the perfect venue for the mostly male audience. (Not so much if you're a female in 3-inch-heels standing for three straight hours). The sound was amazing. Satriani connected with an audience filled with guitar players on a level that few artists with his experience seem to reach. Or care to. Several audience members said it was their first time to see Satch live. They left the show saying, "That was great!" and "His show delivered the punch."
"Black Swans and Wormhole Wizards" is the 14th studio album from the rock guitar virtuoso who has been nominated for 14 Grammy awards. The album is made up of one part Science Fiction, one part funk, and a whole lotta big guitar. Although his famed solo work definitely takes center stage, he's not a one-man-show. His band does a great job of rounding out the sound.
Satriani kicked off the set with "Ice 9," which set the tone for the evening. It certainly showcased his superior abilities on the whammy bar.
Satch played seven songs from his current album. One of the highlights of the evening was "Light Years Away," the first single/video released off Satriani's "Black Swans and Wormhole Wizards." This song is about travel--and with the sci-fi theme, it's likely that it's about traveling through space. The tune starts off with a big keyboard intro (played by Mike Keneally) which sort of just bubbles up and then the bands kicks in. The album version is longer than the single. But the heavy groove with lots of riffing takes you on a musical journey and many fans say they prefer the longer version. "Light Years Away" is one of Satch's few songs that doesn't have that familiar big ending. But it's not needed here either.
He performed "Satch Boogie" like the master playing for his students. He often pointed to the crowd as if he was saying, "Watch and learn." His tone was ridiculously amazing. The ultimate guitar teacher has a lot of cred with pupils include Steve Vai, Kirk Hammett of Metallica, and Andy Timmons.
Several guitar changes took place during the show, but it was during "Memories" that Satch displayed some extreme showmanship. While playing one of his Ibanez JS signature guitars, he used his mouth to play part of the song. Jumping back to the groove with his fingers, he gave that familiar bob of his head to the audience as if to say, "Now that's how you do it, kids."
Apparently, this guitar hero never quits working because "Dream Song" came to him in his sleep. While most people can't remember what they dreamed the night before, he woke up with the arrangement already worked out in his head. He must have dreamed about Jimi Hendrix because there's a sprinkling of his influence in there. Talk about a "Premonition" - which ironically is another new song on "Wormhole Wizards." His body bounced back and forth while playing this heavy groove and releasing extra-terrestrial sounds from his axe. "Premonition" has a very clean, almost commercial sound that I can see advertising or movie execs jumping all over for their next projects.
"Big Bad Moon" was a bit of a change up with a bluesy New Orleans sound--the perfect place for Satch to display his many talents. He sang (yes, this song had lyrics) and he briefly played the harmonica. Audience members loved the bluesy vibe, grabbing their air guitars and playing along. (Yes, I'm guilty too).
Two songs were performed during the encore. The band stepped out to the front of the stage and encouraged the audience to become part of the performance by clapping, fist pumping and chanting along as Satriani began to play. The show ended with "Summer Song," another energetic tune with a heavy intro that completed the evening with a big explanation point.
"Surfing with the Alien" was mysteriously abducted from the sci-fi set list. It just shows the genius that is Satch: leave 'em wanting more. Although fans wanted him to play the song, they weren't disappointed in his two-hour performance. He left you wanting more--but not because he didn't give it his all. It's just that nobody wants a good party to end.
If you're a guitar player and want a lesson on how to command an audience and the guitar, catch Joe Satriani the next time he's in your area. He can certainly bend a note like few others.
Joe Satriani - Guitars
Jeff Campitelli - Drums
Allen Whitman - Bass
Mike Keneally - Keyboards
Galen Henson - Additional Guitar