at The Music Mill, Indianapolis, Indiana, USA, November 17, 2005

YNGWIE J. MALMSTEEN (Live at The Music Mill, Indianapolis, Indiana, USA, November 17, 2005)
Photo: Dan Skiba

On an unseasonably cold November 17th evening (+20 degrees Fahrenheit / -7 Celsius), Yngwie J. Malmsteen’s Rising Force, with special guests Orange Sky, looked to heat up Indianapolis, USA via the Music Mill venue, a 525 maximum capacity establishment, on the eve of its 1-year anniversary.

Various snafus, unfortunately, challenged the prospects of a successful gig on this evening. For starters, either mechanical or navigational tour bus errors caused the Rising Force entourage and equipment to arrive at the venue substantially later than expected from their Los Angeles gig from a few nights before, causing the launch of the sound check to run WAY behind. As Murphy’s Law would have it, there appeared to be technical difficulties too, causing the sound check to drag on and on. Orange Sky was supposed to open up at 8:30 p.m., with the doors opening at 7:30 p.m., meaning people started lining up at 6:30 p.m. in order to get a spot up close to the stage (open floor standing). Luckily, media members were allowed to wait in the warm lobby, however, most of capacity crowd had to wait 90 minutes or more in the freezing cold until the doors finally were opened at about 9:00 p.m. Orange Sky, who had arrived the night before, got the short end of the punctuality stick in the end, having less than 5 minutes to calibrate their own equipment prior to the doors unlocking, and the crowd rushing in … a crowd never appreciating the wonders of climate control more than at the moment they entered the stage area of the venue.


At about 9:05 p.m., a “new” band called Orange Sky from Trinidad, a tiny island in the Caribbean, nudged through the crowd and took the stage. It’s fair to say that other than media members and the employees of the venue, no one in the audience had heard of this band before this evening, and the fact that they are a band made up of musicians of color, sporting various forms of dreadlocks, certainly took the conservative Indianapolis crowd by surprise. What took the crowd even more by surprise was how much Orange Sky kicked arse during their all too brief performance. The band, having recently released its first international recording in Upstairs (read the Metal Express Radio review by clicking here), mixes sounds of the Caribbean (e.g., Reggae) within a Heavy Metal platform … sort of a Bob Marley meets Judas Priest sound, if you can imagine. The band quickly won the hearts of the audience with their unassuming honesty, apparent love for what they were doing, and obvious appreciation for the opportunity to tour with such an established name as Yngwie J. Malmsteen … a man, as Nigel Rojas (lead guitarist and vocalist) mentioned, who has been one of their musical heroes and influences throughout their personal histories.

Playing predominantly songs from Upstairs, Orange Sky started out with the song “Dogs” and “Escape,” which both rocked, and kind of caught the audience off guard. The crowd initially rendered a reserved “courtesy” applause after these songs, but sort of like the village peasants in the thematic story Stone Soup, those in attendance began to realize that they indeed were witnessing something special, and began to rally around this band in a way seldom seen in a 35-minute set. Nigel Rojas and his guitar compatriot, Adam Murray, ripped off some impressive riffs and power chord schemes, while Nigel’s brother, Nicholas Rojas, played some inspired bass fills, keyboardist Richard Hall flung his dreadlocks in headbanging fashion, and Obasi Springer literally beat the living crap out of his drum kit in John Bonham/Tommy Lee fashion. By the time the aggressive riffs of “Tug of War” were played near the end of the set, the audience was completely sold on this new pearl out of the Caribbean, as was evidenced by the roar of the crowd as time expired and the band had to leave the stage.

After their set, many members of the crowd ran to the back area of the venue to pick up a copy Orange Sky’s new CD, which was wisely made available by the band for purchase. Orange Sky’s message was clear … they wanted to “plant a few” seeds during this tour, and “make new friends.” Due to the fact that they could be found the entire rest of the night hanging out with the crowd and talking with whomever wished to meet them, the Rojas brothers and co-musicians showed they indeed were serious about making the most out of this opportunity to expose the world to their new brand of Metal music … and for all accounts and purposes, they accomplished that goal as well as could ever be expected.


With the crowd totally abuzz from the Orange Sky set, the 90+ minute wait outside in the cold had now become nothing more than a memory … that is, until Malmsteen and Rising Force caused the interlude to reach upwards of an hour before finally taking the stage. Adding insult to injury, during this extended dead time, all that was played over the P.A. system was Classical Music … kind of cool and a nice twist at the beginning, but after about 30-minutes of Classical Music 101, the crowd became restless and grumpy, and the euphoria and energy created by the warm up band morphed into fatigue.

Mercifully, the band took the stage at about 10:40 p.m. … Malmsteen started his playing from backstage to a rejuvenated crowd before unveiling his presence via the band’s title track, “Rising Force.” Malmsteen looked good … he’s in better physical shape, was very mobile and animated, and despite sporting an 80’s Hair Metal look if there ever was one, appeared to be appreciative of the opportunity to share the experience with this enthusiastic, if not patient, Indianapolis crowd. With the crowd now totally on board, Yngwie and company then flung into “Demon Driver,” followed by “Locked & Loaded” from the new Unleash The Fury album (check out the Metal Express Radio album review by clicking here). So far, so good, and at this point, Yngwie had the audience in the palm of his hand.

Back in 1984, whether or not it was a true statement, Yngwie was quoted somewhere as saying something like “I believe I’m a better guitarist than Eddie Van Halen, and I’m going to prove that to the world.” One helluva bold statement, if it was truly made, since Eddie Van Halen was regarded as the gold standard when it came to innovative guitar players at that time … but that statement certainly caused the Metal community to stop and at least have a listen to what this Swede had to offer. Although everyone respected Yngwie’s speed and accomplished playing back then, one recurring criticism of his style was that many of his songs lacked “song structure” … some opinions were held that Yngwie just played a lot of notes and guitar scales instead of melding his speed into cohesive and catchy soundscapes. Over time and as he further developed his songwriting skills, Yngwie generally was able to shut up the naysayers to earn the global accolades and the respect he so deserved.

On this night, however, Yngwie and his band seemed to be on different pages. His timing seemed to be just slightly off from the rhythm section, largely because of overkill on improvisation. Yngwie, in an interview before this tour started with Metal Express Radio (check out the Streaming Audio Interview section of the website), had admitted that he often just “wings it” on stage, and plays what feels right at the given moment, whether or not his direction at the time totally follows the original structure of the song. Obviously, it takes a true talent to be able to do this and make it work, and done in moderation, this playing philosophy certainly can provide a “unique” flavor to each show. However, when done in excess, as it was during this performance, the risk exists of falling flat on your face. Yngwie simply went over the top on playing outside of many of the songs’ boundaries, and chose to play too many unscripted solos at the expense of keeping the entire band involved. The end product was a feel of disorganization by the band and the crowd hearing just too many notes. Not to confuse the issue … Yngwie’s playing was still incredible, but sometimes too much of a good thing is just too much of a good thing.

By the time the encore rolled around, the audience had lost its spirit, and a number of fans could be found heading towards the exit. For those who stayed, at the end of the final song, “I See The Light, Tonight,” the stage effect machines filled the venue with smoke, causing the fire alarms to go off … so Yngwie and Rising Force bid the audience adieu at 12:10 a.m. amid flashing lights and an annoying, repetitive alarm … the final pothole hit in the road during an evening riddled with one snafu after another.


  • Dan Skiba

    Dan is a former partner at Metal Express Radio, and also served as a reviewer, photographer and interviewer on occasions. Based out of Indianapolis, USA he was first turned on to Hard Rock music in the mid-1970s when he purchased Deep Purple's Machine Head as his first album. He was immediately enthralled with the powerful guitar sound and pronounced drumbeat, and had to get more! His collection quickly expanded to include as many of Heavy Rock bands of the time that he could get his hands on, such as Ted Nugent, Judas Priest, and Black Sabbath, to name just a few.

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