WORDS AND IMAGES WARREN MILLAR
What can we say about tonight’s trip down the M56 to the city of Manchester and the thoughts of seeing the guitar god that is Joe Satriani ! Well for one thing we have Satriani’s 1987 album “Surfing With The Alien” on full blast in the car as we head off. Being a fan of someone you are about to photograph and see live always gives you that extra boost of excitement and boy we have it in abundance tonight.
Born in Wesbury, New York this guitar tutor turned guitar god has had legendary status amongst guitar lovers and players. With 19 studio albums to his name with the 1986 album “Not Of This Earth” being his first to his latest “Elephants Of Mars” released in 2022. His 3G tours with that other guitar legend Steve Vai and guest guitarist such as John Petrucci, Yngwie Malmsteen, Eirc Jonson, Kenny Wayne Shepard and others were legendary.
No support tonight we are just entertained By Satrinai and his band who tonight consist of Joe Satriani (guitar), Bryan Beller (bass), Kenny Aronoff (drums) and Rai Thistlethwayte (keyboards and guitar)
Tonight’s venue The Bridgewater Hall is a first time for us personally and wow what a place this is, all seated with three levels of seats above the stalls and the whole place looks suitably built both acoustically and aesthetically. Lovely wide open spaces before you enter the performance hall and on all levels plenty of space to relax during intervals with big open plan looks and windows giving you some great views of Manchester City Centre.
As the house lights dim shortly after 8pm on to the stage come the band. Aronoff’s drums high on a riser with Beller raised lower and to the left, further left is Thistlethwayte with his keyboard and then on walks Satriani dressed in black jeans and a black rather cool looking motor bike type jacket and wrap around sunglasses, all very cool. Its Straight into the racy starting riff of “Nineteen Eighty” before the very rocking rhythm is belted out by Aronoff on his drums. Satriani’s playing is a sight to behold and listen to live, finger stretching over large numbers of frets and moving around and up and down the fret board with ease. The sounds this guy makes from his guitar are stunning sometimes chilled, sometimes heavy rock and every so often just simply out of this world with sustain that seems to last for ever and ever.
Its straight into the second tune of the night the very African influenced beat and starting riff of “Sahara” which ebbs and flows all over the audience and hall, a real foot tapper this one and yeah Everyone’s feet were tapping.
The first half of the show carries on with a faultless performance by Satriani and his band we were even treated to a play off between Satriani’s guitar and Thistlethwayte’s keyboard which to be honest was a great highlight and we called it a draw in the interests of fairness. Another highlight for us personally during the first set was “Flying In A Blue Dream” to hear this master piece played live, of course as soon as the intro was played the crowd were in raptures. So an hour of sheer Guitar utopia came to an end but this was just the first set, we relaxed and waited in anticipation for the next.
After a short interval we were first treated to Aronoff’s skills on the drums as the set Started off with “Drum Solo” and wow was it bloody good ! After this it’s the rocky riff filled “Energy” with Satriani once again just simply amazing us with his skills and the sounds he manages to get out of his Guitar, Unless you see and listen to Satriani live you wouldn’t think it was possible to geat some of the sounds out of an electric guitar that Satriani seem to manage. “E 104th St New NYC 1973” with it’s slower Jazzy funk beat was a joy and again those feet were tapping along to the rhythm as was “Cool #9” It was Very Cool with some very nice jazzy bass from Beller.
Again the time passed so quickly and the set ended with a virtuoso performance from Satriani of “Snatch Boogie” loads of fret tapping string bending loveliness all packaged up in a real boogie feel and at the end again those noises and sounds you just don’t think are coming from a guitar.
It’s fair to say that Satriani is one of the grand masters when it comes to Guitar, he is without doubt a true god of his craft and art and this writer was blown away when back in the late eighties I first heard his music, but to see him perform this live in a great venue and in front of his many fans and with a fantastic band was truly a great honour and privilege and one gig I will never forget. Eleven out of Ten !!
1/ Nineteen Eighty
3/ The Elephants of Mar
4/ Ice 9
5/ Thunder High on the Mountain
6/ One Big Rush
7/ Blue Foot Groovy
8/ Flying in a Blue Dream
9/ Spirits, Ghosts and Outlaws
11/ Crystal Planet
12/ Summer Song
13/ Drum Solo
15/ E 104th St NYC 1973
16/ Keyboard Solo
17/ Cool #9
18/ Ali Farka, Dick Dale, an Alien and Me
21/ Luminous Flesh Giants
22/ If I Could Fly
23/ Always With Me, Always With You
24/ Satch Boogie
25/ Crowd Chant
26/ Surfing With the Alien
FOLLOW JOE SATRIANI
Warren is a live music and festival photographer based in Cheshire and covers gigs/festivals mostly in the North West of England. He has been photographing live music for over 10 years and has covered major artists and festivals