Guitar wizard Joe Satriani has spent the past two years whizzing around the world promoting his fifteenth studio album, “Shockwave Supernova”, and for this South East Asian leg of the tour Satriani was treating appreciative fans in Japan, plus the rarely visited countries such as China, Taiwan, South Korea, Singapore and Thailand. The tour, billed as ‘Surfing To Shockwave’, marked the thirtieth anniversary of Satriani’s breakthrough album ‘Surfing With The Alien’ that catapulted the guitar supremo onto the world stage.
Minutes before the show in Bangkok began on Feb. 19, fans stood to attention as the Royal anthem of Thailand was played and beautifully observed in honour of the revered King Bhumibol, who sadly passed away last year.
Moments later the back screen came alive with sci-fi action and an animated Satriani hero flying through the air before the man himself appeared in the flesh, with one of his many Ibanez JS signature guitars making out worldly sounds that shot straight out past the earth’s atmosphere, blasting off with the title track from “Shockwave Supernova”.
It was a nice human touch too as Satriani and his band all wore black ribbons in remembrance of the revered Thai king and it made them most welcome with this appreciative audience.
Normally, instrumental artists are just enjoyed by aspiring musicians but to the casual listener the shows can be a meandering affair. Satriani however is not your average Joe. There’s no match for ‘Satch’ and the audience were totally transfixed as he went through his repertoire of sonic sounds, full of tasty whammy bar action and backed by a powerful tight band who also made an impact themselves, allowing Satriani to breath when required. It was a musical tour de force that hit the listeners like a tsunami, sweeping them away into a Galaxian sea in a euphoric dream like state.
This was not just a one man show either. Drummer Marco Minnemann sent out his thunderbolts as soon as the band hit the stage and the versatile Mike Keneally added keyboards and also provided a perfect foil to Satriani when he picked up the guitar and the two dueled magnificently on “Flying In Blue Dream”’ and “Cataclysmic”. Bassist Bryan Beller also added some beef with a solid display and a fusion of styles.
“Summer Song” saw a video backdrop of a younger Satriani complete with a full crop of hair, and while his hair may have since vanished, his stunning musical abilities clearly have not.
The music was mainly hard, heavy and snazzy, with a few delicate moments like the jazzy shuffle of “Friends”, dedicated to fallen comrades and musicians who are no longer with us, and the dreamy “Always With Me, Always With You”, which got a big cheer.
Satriani proved how adept and versatile he could be at joining a major rock band with a brief medley of Sabbath, Zeppelin, Deep Purple, AC/DC and Hendrix classics, played with ease in his own inimitable style.
While Satriani let his Ibanez do all the singing, “Crowd Chant” lived up to its name by making the audience roar with appreciation before riding out with “Satch Boogie”.
The guitar maestro did actually sing for the encore hard groove of “Big Bad Moon” and even included a harmonica break, but it was his guitar wizardry that captivated the audience for over two stunning hours of music.
Bangkok went surfing with the alien. Totally out of this world! Rating 9/10 all round.
Review written by Hells Bells and Mott The Dog. Hells Bells and Mott the Dog can often be found talking about music and supping Beer in Jameson’s Pub in Pattaya.