Lunatic's Serenade

Facebook Twitter Google

An Evening with Joe Satriani
The Pearl inside the Palms Hotel/Casino
Las Vegas – March 4, 2016

There have been a handful of guitar players that no matter what song they play put a smile on me a mile wide. The graceful strumming of Tom Petty, the soulful touch of Stevie Ray Vaughn, the weirdness of Steve Vai, and the hand crafted splendidness of Joe Satriani. These fine axe men have carved their names in history to be the world’s greatest guitar players and have inspired many to pick up a six (or seven string) guitar and put their fingers to the test. I was inspired by Satriani’s first release “Not of this Earth” back in the mid 80’s.

Fast forward to March 4th at The Pearl inside the Palms hotel/casino in Las Vegas where three brothers enter the near half full venue a good forty minutes to show time. We watch the empty seats all around us start to fill. I am led downstairs to join the other photographers that are taking positions on either side of the soundboard. My heart bursts out of my chest as the lights go down. For a second or two, I watch the film intro forgetting I’m there to take pictures. I raise the camera to capture some of the animation and images. As the band takes the stage, I cheer with everyone else as they break into their new song, “Shockwave.” Shot after shot, hoping to get some good pictures being so far away, I am caught up in the emotion as every note fills the room.

Satriani has the same crew he had last year, which is very cool. Mike Keneally, (Frank Zappa, Steve Vai, Dethklok) keyboardist and guitarist, leans on the keys and shreds with Joe keeping the same pace as he lays down rhythm and takes lead with Joe throughout the show. At one point, half way through the set, they both jam on a dual solo that goes on for days with Joe shaking the tremolo bar and Mike strangling the headstock of his Jackson. They trade back and forth on an endless crescendo as the band repeats the same bar until finally the two shred-heads nod to each other and end the dizzying merry-go-round. After this display of showmanship and comradery, the crowd is on its feet. The chap in the wheelchair stood tallest as the music lifted him.

“I am caught up in the emotion as every note fills the room.”

Marco Minnemann (Steven Wilson, The Aristocrats) takes the throne and makes songs explode with fantastic tribal beats and compelling rhythms. To start the second part of the show, Marco showcases his talent with a near six minute drum solo. As one of the best progressive drummers out there, his solo is unique and interesting. He uses all the rhythm patterns in the book and writes new ones on the way. Soon after, bassist Bryan Beller (Steve Vai, Deathclok) lets loose on some R&B as he and Satriani trade riffs as Mike doubles the bass line on keys and Marco keeps the beat. It then turns into a jam that uses instrumental lines from “Frankenstein” (Edgar Winter) and “Smoke on the Water” (Deep Purple). The designed improvisation moves and grooves; gets heavy, and then drives to a frenzy by all four musicians who can’t stand still.

Then there’s Joe (guitar instructor to Alex Skolnick, Kirk Hammet and Steve Vai) with sun glasses on making it all look so bloody easy. Doing the tricks and burning licks that are so amazing to watch you can’t help but feel the joy projected and expressed through the passion that Joe has for his instrument and his songs.

The mix was even between all the players. Mike’s guitar was level with Joe’s, Bryan’s tone was solid and audible, and Marco’s thunderous exhibition contested any storm. Nights like these are what I live for, and I am all too happy to write down and share my thoughts. Get your hands on Joe Satriani’s music, and see the show if you can.

A special thanks to my brother, Art, for the ticket to a spectacular concert, and to Alissa Kelly for the photo pass.

We also want to give extra special thanks to Paul "Rock" Santos for supplying the awesome pictures.

Tim Duran, HMS

Back to Lunatic's Serenade Menu