at City Hall, Newcastle, U.K., June 10, 2013

After teaching  the likes of Steve Vai, Metallica’s Kirk Hammett and Alex Skolnick from Testament in their formative years, Joe Satriani set about a recording career that has garnered a record breaking 15 Grammy nominations along with worldwide acclaim for his barrier busting approach to guitar playing.  His debut, Not Of This Earth, set the ball rolling, but it was the follow up, Surfing With The Alien, that really set the standard for other guitarists to aspire to as Satriani became the standard bearer for a whole new generation of guitarists.


The City Hall was the perfect venue for an artist like Satriani where the intimacy, acoustics and ambience were just right to capture the atmosphere, and for almost two hours Satriani dazzled the Newcastle crowd with a display of exquisite technical dexterity and some jaw dropping musicianship.

With new album Unbreakable Momentum out a few weeks ago, Satriani aired every track over the course of the evening with the upbeat Funk-fuelled “Jumpin’ In” providing the perfect counterpoint to the dreamy “Can’t Go Back”.

Satriani favorites “Surfing With The Alien” and a storming “Satch Boogie” may be his best known tunes, but he has much more in his catalog with “Always With Me Always With You” and  “Summer Song” always welcome in his set while the likes of  “Unstoppable Momentum” and “Shine On American Dreamer” are destined to become future classics.

There were a lot of notes played during the evening, but that would count for nothing without some strong melodies and Satriani has plenty of those.  “Flying In A Blue Dream” was mesmerising while “I’ll Put A Stone On Your Cairn” evoked images of a reflective moment in the Scottish Highlands.  That is in itself one of the great gifts that Satriani possesses, the ability to create vivid images through his music and “Three Sheets To The Wind”, an ode to a drunken night out, achieves that perfectly while debunking the myth that serious musicians don’t have a sense of humor.

Satriani was clearly the star of the show, but his band were certainly no bit part players.  Marco Minnemann in particular was absolutely stunning on the drums, locking in tightly with bassist Bryan Beller in an almost telepathic manner, while multi-instrumentalist Mike Keneally provided the additional coloring with some atmospheric keyboards, while sparring manically with Satriani during “The Crush Of Love”.


A two hour show of guitar instrumental music may sound like a lot to take in one sitting, but Satriani has the knack of making the time literally fly by.  There was plenty of interaction and banter with the crowd and none more so than on “Crowd Chant” where the almost Disco beat and call and response between guitar and crowd a la Freddie Mercury, but without the moustache, had the place bouncing and the ladies dancing.


  • Mick Burgess

    Mick is a reviewer and photographer here at Metal Express Radio, based in the North-East of England. He first fell in love with music after hearing Jeff Wayne's spectacular The War of the Worlds in the cold winter of 1978. Then in the summer of '79 he discovered a copy of Kiss Alive II amongst his sister’s record collection, which literally blew him away! He then quickly found Van Halen I and Rainbow's Down To Earth, and he was well on the way to being rescued from Top 40 radio hell!   Over the ensuing years, he's enjoyed the Classic Rock music of Rush, Blue Oyster Cult, and Deep Purple; the AOR of Journey and Foreigner; the Pomp of Styx and Kansas; the Progressive Metal of Dream Theater, Queensrÿche, and Symphony X; the Goth Metal of Nightwish, Within Temptation, and Epica, and a whole host of other great bands that are too numerous to mention. When he's not listening to music, he watches Sunderland lose more football (soccer) matches than they win, and occasionally, if he has to, he goes to work as a property lawyer.

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