Joe Satriani’s Triumphant Return Home Tilles Center Greenvale, NY 4-1-16

Joe Satriani’s Triumphant Return Home Tilles Center Greenvale, NY 4-1-16

Joe Satriani, in the eyes of many, is a guitar god. Naturally a teacher, Satriani has mentored a long list of guitarists from Kirk Hammett of Metallica, to David Bryson of Counting Crows, to Kevin Cadogan from Third Eye Blind, to Alex Skolnick of Testament, among many others. While these are facts the average person may or may not know, Satriani has also been dazzling guitar enthusiasts ears for three decades now as a solo artist as well as collaborating with many others, including the band of friends Chickenfoot.

With fifteen Grammy nominations, after years of setting a high standard for instrumentation, Satriani has released fifteen powerful solo studio records, including his most recent, 2015’s Shockwave Supernova. A record which featured Mike Keneally (keyboards/guitar), Bryan Beller (bass), and Marco Minnemann (drums), prior to its release, last summer Satriani took to the road with the musicians for what he called the Shockwave Tour. A highly successful run that found Satriani in the UK, among other places, it continues into 2016 under the title the Surfing To Shockwave Tour. A concept title to celebrate Satriani’s impressive thirty year career, the tour kicked off late in February and found its way to Greenvale, New York on Friday, April 1st. A welcome home party for Satriani, the native Long Islander grew up in the village of Westbury, which is only ten minutes away from the beautiful Tilles Center for the Performing Arts located on the LIU Post campus. An exciting evening all around, a sold out crowd gathered to welcome Satriani back home with open arms.

Billed as an evening of mind-bending music, the Shockwave Supernova tour lived up to its name as Satriani, Minnemann, Beller, and Keneally took the stage to open with “Shockwave Supernova,” the title track from his latest release. Satriani kicked off the show with sycophantic guitar and drums before falling into a heavy groove punctuated with well-timed breaks over which intricate fills on drums and piercing guitar filled the void. The guitar adopted the sound of some menacing technology as it screeched along before reverting back to classic Satriani riffage. Going back to 1989, the title track from the Flying in a Blue Dream LP was next. Gentle piano chords laid the groundwork for a relaxed rhythm that would be the base over which Satriani darted all over, using the whammy bar effectively, to create a sound that was both atmospheric and leaden.

Next came the track “Ice 9,” which featured a groove that sounded like the best of ’70s R&B while steady drumming provided the perfect counterpunch to the wild bass. Throughout the song, Satriani deftly mixed rocking, clean solos with loads of distortion at other points for a unique mix. Then a searing Heavy Metal sound dominated the next track, “Crystal Planet,” as a rapid-fire drumming was outpaced by even faster fretwork throughout. Dense riffs were dropped in across the tune, making for a roller coaster ride on guitar. Punctuating the song was an outro, that sounded like the best of EDM with a blustery, repetitive run. From here, it was back to Shockwave Supernova for “On Peregrine Wings,” which feature riffs that are sludgy and borderline doom. Diverse and surprising, halfway through the song turned on its ear and featured melodic soloing over the thick riffing, making for an impressive mix.

Keeping the audience’s spirits high, “Friends” came on as a very atmospheric tune with soaring solos that sounded like a medley of every killer guitar solo from the ’80s, but with superior technicality and even more feeling. Then, less than two minute later, “Butterfly and Zebra” was a welcomed break in the set, giving Satriani a chance to catch his breath after wailing away on guitar and continually moving around stage. Still compelling the audience, a haunting collage on guitar paced by sweeping piano made for a somber tune, steeped in emotion. While “Butterfly and Zebra” and “Friends” were complete opposites in terms of feel, their juxtaposition was a microcosm of the night, as Satriani went from A to Z and back again all night long. With that being said, the fan-favorite jam “Summer Song” closed out the first set. Much like “Friends,” it was an upbeat number with a propulsive rhythm, however, it eschewed solos that would not seem out of place in a Romantic Comedy for wild, million notes per second solos, that were then brought back down to earth with bouncy leads on guitar.

Having already wowed the room, there was still more to come as Minnemann played a frenetic drum solo that set the stage for a raucous back half of the show, which ran right into the wild antics of “Crazy Joey.” Incorporating an incredible tone, the song sounds like a collection of lost classic era Van Halen riffs, making for a truly impassioned ride. Continuing the twists and turns through history, newer cut “Lost in a Memory” presented the crowd with a completely different vibe that it had been dealt all night. Brooding rhythms and spaced out interjections of moaning guitar created a soundscape reminiscent of ’70s Crime Drama. In addition, an accompanying video of the discovery of a dead body by gritty detectives would have gone perfectly hand in hand with the complex, meditative sound.

Midway through act two, “Luminous Flesh Giants” came on, showing Satriani is just as comfortable playing Blues based music as well as Rock, and in this case, both. A classic Blues rhythm was intermingled with heavy Blues riffing and soloing echoing London in 1968, along with punches of straight-ahead Hard Rock riffs and gyrations, it was an amazing listen. Following up with an array of tracks ranging from 1987’s Surfing with the Alien “Always With Me, Always With You,” to 2010’s Black Swans and Wormhole Wizards track “God Is Crying,” to modern day pieces “There Is No Heaven” and “Goodbye Supernova,” Satriani danced through history with ease. Without a dull moment all night, the lengthy performance closed with the signature “Satch Boogie,” an impressive take on classic Heavy Metal, but with ten times the melody. A dirge-like main riff quickly took off into a frenzy of licks with Metallic leanings. Here, Satriani was able to make the sinister melodic with runs that were incredibly heavy but effervescent at the same time.

Elated by what they had witnessed, the audience cheered loudly, and following a brief exit Satriani returned for a two song encore. It all began with “Big Bad Moon,” a rarity in that it featured vocals first. A ZZ Top-esque groove was the guts for a Blues laced explosion, and it was clear that Jimi Hendrix was a huge influence here as the Blues were elevated to the stratosphere with mind-bending solos, one after the other. A pleasant surprise, thereafter “Surfing With the Alien” closed out the night, making for the perfect selection as it featured all of the styles Satriani has mastered through the years. Bouncing around from the Blues, to Funk, to Rock, to Metal, the song meandered from one style to the next, and each style was delivered with precise perfection.

Throughout the show, it was clear that Satriani’s ability to seamlessly blend the dark and the light is his greatest gift, and the thing that separates him from his contemporaries. A historic evening for many reasons, Satriani made Long Island proud as everyone departed the concert hall raving about the performance. The Surfing To Shockwave Tour continues to roll through North America before heading to Europe in June. Do not miss out on a chance to see one of music’s most legendary performers as many are sure to be absolutely blown away by Joe Satriani’s incredible mix of taste and talent.

 

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Gerard Smith
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