Joe Satriani – The Shockwave Tour – Heerlen Pop Stage 26 September 2015

Recently Joe Satriani, one of the best guitar players on the planet, released his fifteenth studio album. Shockwave Supernova, believe it or not, is an instrumental concept album and contains fifteen tracks that are trying to discover and understand the alter ego of Satriani. The new songs were composed a couple of years ago and therefore you could call Shockwave Supernova (see review) an “old school” Satriani album and then you must think of old Satch albums like Surfing With The Alien, Flying In A Blue Dream and The Extremist. Furthermore producer John Cuniberti is back and his influence is rather obviously present.

Joe Satriani has become one of the most successful solo guitar players ever and he has sold more than 10 million albums so far and after the release of a new album Joe always goes on tour to promote his latest effort. Last year I watched Satriani in the new Vredenburg Hall in Utrecht and this evening he will be playing on “my” pop stage in my hometown Heerlen and of course this gig will mostly feature songs from his new album. Satch will be accompanied on stage by Mike Keneally (guitar and keyboards), who played with no one less than Frank Zappa and with G4, Bryan Beller on bass guitar and Marcus Minneman (Steven Wilson band) on drums; and this is probably the best band Joe has ever played with…

The set list contains a lot of “golden” oldies from classic Satriani albums like Surfing With The Alien (1987), The Extremist (1992), Crystal Planet (1998) and of course the unavoidable Flying In A Blue Dream (1989). A couple of other Satch albums like for example Time Machine, Unstoppable Momentum, Professor Satchafunkilus, Super Colossal and Strange Beautiful Music are purposely being “omitted”, but there is no doubt that most of the songs on the set list can be found on the new album, of which Satch and band play eight tracks!

Satriani opens the set with the title track of the new album, an up tempo track which sounds live even “heavier”, as in the studio the solos on this track are played with slide guitar. Then we can enjoy a couple of Satch classics being: Ice 9, Not Of This Earth, Crystal Planet and Flying In A Blue Dream, which are being “played along” by lots of air guitar players; just like yours truly! Especially the amazing sounding version of Crystal Planet gives me the first touches of gooseflesh this evening. On Peregrine Wings is already familiar by lots of people, due to the fact that this song could be enjoyed on You Tube for a while already. The drumbeat of Minneman on this track really hits you in the face and stomach and the breath-taking melody sets the audience “on fire”. Because of the tremendous energy in this track I have the feeling that I am floating/flying through the air like a peregrine… This song and the rather heavy Cataclysmic, featuring a guitar duel between Satch and Keneally, will become Satriani classics without any doubt and they will also become Satch live staples. Other highlights of the new album are the funky, laid back-like Crazy Joey, the intimate, almost lullaby-like Butterfly And Zebra and Goodbye Supernova; a superb guitar ballad with heavenly solos from Satch and an addictive keyboard melody played by Keneally.

Other classic Satriani tracks can always be found on the set list, so the very enthusiastic audience are treated to Friends, Time, If I Could Fly and the rather dark, mysterious Luminous Flesh Giants. The best guitar ballad ever is probably Always With Me, Always With You from Satriani’s commercial breakthrough album Surfing With The Alien and his most well-known ballad – a love song for his wife Rubina – is always a joy to listen to, and every time I hear this track it hits me like a hammer. The last song of the regular set is Satch Boogie, again an old track from the Surfing album and it is a great up tempo track to end this marvellous guitar show with.

Mike Keneally, Bryan Beller and Marco Minneman are the perfect musical trio for Joe because these guys can really play and Keneally even plays the keyboards and the guitar simultaneously! However I could do without the utterly redundant drum solo of Minneman as I would rather have heard another Satch track instead.

The band returns for three encores and so the audience can go wild during The Extremist, with Satriani on harmonica, the very fast Surfing With The Alien and a blues improvisation track. Then after almost two and an half hours of playing the show is really over and so ends another great Satch gig, being one of the best guitar shows I have heard in a long time. However, maybe it is frustrating for amateur guitar players to see how easily and effortlessly Satch handles and plays his guitars; Satch rules!!

Review and photos by: Martien Koolen