Regular readers of this blog may know that RTM has walked with sticks all its life. This has never really bothered us too much, and we came to terms at an early age with the fact we were never going to score a goal in the cup final for Stoke City, or hit a cover drive at Edgbaston for Warwickshire’s first team. However, there is one thing that has always eaten away at us throughout the years and it is nothing to do with our disability: it is the simple fact that we absolutely cannot play the guitar however hard we try.
RTM mentions this because tonight, apparently for the first time ever (according to the man himself who says so onstage) Joe Satriani is in Wolverhampton for the first time. He is here to play a show in support of his new album “Unstoppable Momentum.” In common with all of Satch’s material, it is brilliant, not quite as unbelievably good as his previous outing “Black Swans And Wormhole Wizards” but brilliant all the same.
Satriani clearly agrees, as during the course of his two hours with us he plays 10 songs from it. The set begins with a short drum solo from Marco Minnemann, playing while the other members of the band – bass man Brian Beller and longtime Satriani sidekick Mike Keneally – wander out, followed by arguably the greatest metal guitarist ever, who stays cool behind his shades throughout. He has his orange guitar, he waves and roars into “Cool #9”
This sets the tone for the next 120 flawless minutes, with the “…Momentum” tracks taking on a fine life of their own, given the chance to breathe in a live setting, with the funky “Weight of the World” sounding particularly fabulous.
For this show Satriani has put together a fine light show, which sees a video wall behind the band augmenting the tracks. “Flying In A Blue Dream” has with it a stunning ocean scene for example and “Shine On American Dreamer” transports us to the Red Rock Canyon and you begin to lose yourself in these songs.
Musically, these tracks share an obvious kinship with RTM’s favourites Dream Theater (Satriani has appeared with their guitar man John Petrucci at the G3 event) and it is tempting on occasion to picture that band playing these songs – and make no mistake these are songs and not just pieces of music. Indeed, this is what sets Satch apart from other musicians of his ilk. He doesn’t overplay, he is not flashy and he constructs tracks that don’t need lyrics better than anyone else in the world.
The evening reaches a quite stunning high point during “Surfing With The Alien” – the big screen showing the incredible sophistication in the playing, before there is an encore of the big dumb fun of “Crowd Chant,” during which RTM spots a chap air guitaring al the way down the steps, being stopped by security, before air guitaring all the way back them. It’s that kind of evening,
It is also an evening where, if RTM could play the guitar we would sell it. We don’t need to play it because we will never be as good as the man onstage tonight. It’s a privilege to be in the presence of genius, but that is exactly what Joe Satriani is.