Guitar maestro – or legend, as many fans yelled out – Yngwie Malmsteen launched his fall Parabellum tour at the Center Stage Theater in Midtown Atlanta, Georgia on Tuesday night. Built in 1966 to honor Atlanta’s performing arts community and to memorialize Helen Lee Cartlidge after she and 100 other arts patrons perished in the Orly plane crash of 1962, Center Stage Theater is an iconic live performance venue that has played host to Sir Elton John, Lady Gaga and Katy Perry, just to name a few.
As the tour poster read, a New York City band named Sunlord was supposed to be the first performance of the night, but for unannounced reasons, they were a no-show. Instead, Images of Eden took the stage around 8:45pm and were rewarded with a longer set. Self-described on their website, Images of Eden “draws its inspiration from a hybrid of modern hard rock combined with classic metal, creating a modern sound rife with progressive elements and impassioned, unfeigned vocal delivery.”
Vocalist Gordon Tittsworth – who I felt had a bit of a Bruce Dickinson tone to him, which was cool – delivered an engaging performance to an Atlanta audience that was likely experiencing Images of Eden for the first time. The setlist was filled with mature metal songs (IoE published their 5th studio album Angel Born back in March of this year), including their latest release “Animation in a Still World” (video below).
Being a message-based band, I enjoyed that Tittsworth took the time between songs to describe to the crowd the underlying themes of their music. That provided an avenue to connect with new people, which was evident in the comment I heard behind me when their set was over – “I had never heard of Images of Eden before, but they kicked butt.” Kicking butt behind Tittsworth and rounding out IoE were Steve Dorssom (drums), Victor Morell (lead guitar) and Eric Mulvaine (bass). Check out their socials below, and when you catch the Parabellum tour, be sure to arrive in time to experience Images of Eden!
1.) Shield Me
3.) My Promise
4.) Serenity Reign
5.) Twice Upon a Time
6.) Harvest Day
7.) Only Human
8.) Fight the Good Fight
* Played Animation in a Still World as well (but not printed on setlist)
At approximately 10:15pm, the familiar sound of 58-year-old Malmsteen tapping away on his Fender Stratocaster from behind the stage reverberated through the wall of 80ish Marshall amps, signaling the start of his set. With a burst of smoke and the illumination of red and yellow stage lights, Malmsteen marched out and launched into one of his signature songs, “Rising Force.”
Those familiar with Malmsteen’s concerts will find comfort in the fact that not much has changed over the years; he is still the same showman you expect to see live, tossing his guitars around like toys, throwing and kicking dozens of guitar picks into the crowd, all-the-while mesmerizing fans with his neo-classical heavy metal riffs and songs.
What was obviously new this go-around was Malmsteen out supporting his latest release, Parabellum. About a third of the set was dedicated to showcasing his new music, including “Wolves at the Door”, “Relentless Fury,” and “Si Vis Pacem.” Malmsteen also delighted the crowd with a number of his more popular tunes from his catalog, including “Seventh Sign” and “Arpeggios from Hell.”
What isn’t highlighted in the setlist below was Malmsteen’s mid-concert rendition of the “Star-Spangled Banner” with the rest of the band pausing to put their hands on their hearts during the performance, and his spectacular cover of “Smoke on the Water” by Deep Purple. That was a nice treat, which the crowd thoroughly enjoyed, including the dude that kept shouting “Ynnnggggwwwiiiiieeeee” in his loudest wrestling announcer voice between every song.
Having only seen Malmsteen once before during the Generation Axe tour, it was awesome getting to see him shred in his own controlled environment, especially on the opening night of the tour. He was clearly having fun being back on stage after a 20-month hiatus, and the guitar fans in the audience provided him loud adulation and appreciation in support of his amazing guitar skills.
1.) Rising Force
2.) Top Down/No Rest
4.) Relentless Fury
5.) Into Valhalla/Baroque
6.) Like an Angel
7.) Wolves at the Door
8.) Si Vis Pacem
10.) Paganini’s 4th/Adagio
11.) Far Beyond the Sun
12.) Seventh Sign
14.) Evil Eye
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Elliott is a music photographer covering shows in Atlanta, Georgia, and the surrounding area. The highlight of his photography career was back in the early ’90s, when he sold Neil Diamond the rights to his negatives from a show and then purchased a set of tires for his 1979 280ZX during college with the money.