I prolly started listening to Joe Satriani about the same time I was checking out the weird guitar doodlings of Steve Vai on the Passion & Warfare cassette tape[1]. I also read on Guitar World at that time that Kirk Hammett was once tutored by Satriani – so, he must be good, right? The first two records tapes I listened to was Surfing and Blue Dream. As compared to the flamboyant and slightly avant garde Vai, Satriani was more straight on rock, and his tone is unmistakable regardless which of his records you listen to.

I first saw Satch in the winter of 1995 with a cousin of mine at Wembley Arena. We sat so far back but it was a great show, nonetheless. The next time I saw him was the guise of G3 in 2004, my review of which can be read here. And about six months back, I was told about this:

I managed to snag tix for the sixth row slap bang in the middle. And on the evening itself, we simply took our own time, sauntered in and missed the opening act. Satch then came onstage with Marco Minnemann, Bryan Beller and the excellent Mike Keneally to start the set with Cool #9. That reminded me so much of the Wembley show I saw in ’95 and I have to say the evening was to contain many more nostalgic moments, but I just didn’t know it yet. Flying In A Blue Dream came on somewhat early in the set to my surprise and I just love the goosebump-inducing feedback in this tune. Superb! Satch was playing his new Ibanez JS2410, in muscle car orange(!) with the humbucking DiMarzio Mo’ Joe and the Satch Track on the neck, both in orange finish. He also had his JS2400 in white and another one in light blue with the Chickenfoot logo.

Satch’s new record was called Unstoppable Momentum, and that was what he played next. I gotta admit that I knew nothing of his new material as I hadn’t bought the record yet then. I don’t really know much of his stuff post-1995 either, to tell you the truth. Unstoppable was kinda anthemic whilst The Weight was a lil’ prog-esque, kinda like Rush. A Door and Shine On felt a tad samey but I loved them in a roadtrip with the top down kinda way. Satch recounted a moment at a gig in Sheffield a few years ago when he and the band would leave the stage abruptly after a song, hoping to see the audience’s reaction. The Sheffield crowd were not giving any reaction at all, and he and the band had to sheepishly return onstage. From that day onwards, any poyo onstage antics were referred to the ‘Sheffield Shuffle’. Nice to know what the city means to him[2].

The main set ended with Always With Me, Always With You and the eponymous Surfing With The Alien. I’ve only seen Mike Keneally on G3 videos and I’m glad I got to catch Marco Minnemann. Marco was one of the contenders for the drummer’s position in Dream Theater and he was quite close to getting it if it wasn’t for Mike Mangini. I don’t really know much abour Bryan Beller but he plays with Marco and guitar ace Guthrie Govan in a group called The Aristocrats.

Satch and friends got back for the encore kicking off with the sing(or shout)-along Crowd Chant from 2006’s Super Colossal. It was really easy and instinctive to just, well, go along with Satch’s guitar licks. Another ditty from The Extremist, Summer Song was played and the show ended with Rubina[3] from his 1996 debut, Not Of This Earth.

It was a good night even though I had initially thought going to see something like this was kinda old hat. I just realised that Surfing With The Alien actually came out 26 years ago. Still sounding great, Mr Satriani. Looking forward to more great music from you!

City Hall, Sheffield set 15.6.13: Cool #9 / Devil’s Slide / Flying In A Blue Dream / Unstoppable Momentum / The Weight of the World / Ice 9 / The Crush of Love / I’ll Put a Stone on Your Cairn / A Door into Summer / Lies and Truths / Satch Boogie / Shine On American Dreamer / Three Sheets to the Wind / Cryin’ / Jumpin’ In / Jumpin’ Out / A Celebration / Always with Me, Always with You / Surfing with the Alien // [Encore] Crowd Chant / Summer Song / Rubina

[1]No prices for guessing which century this was, let alone which decade.
[2]Not to sure what Satch thinks of KL, especially after that Rentak Asia fiasco in 2000.
[3]That’s Puan Satriani to you.

More Satch photos on my flickr.com set here.