Better Than: Another night practicing.
Last night, Fort Lauderdale's elaborately adorned Parker Playhouse was filled to its very brim with fans of guitar hero, Joe Satriani. The normally stodgy air of the theater, more accustomed to classic works of theater and spoken word engagements, was abuzz with fans discussing their favorite contributions to the world of guitar. They asked the important questions, like which hero really mattered the most, or whether or not Yngwie could "shred the blues," as one fan was overheard arguing.
Warming the excitable lot for Satriani was Steve Morse and his power trio. Morse is a fellow darling of guitar periodicals and best known from his roles as co-founder of the Dixie Dregs and Deep Purple's guitarist since 1994, when Ritchie Blackmore unceremoniously quit the band for good and dedicated his life to playing the lute in a band with the young woman that has since become his wife.
Morse and his trio brought a bombastic onslaught of melodic shred to the stage that had the crowd entranced. The perpetually smiling guitarist wove intricate lines with bassist, Dave LaRue, and gave an inadvertent masterclass on prog-rock shrediquette while boggling minds with his dynamic performance. The set jumped from flamenco guitar, amped-up, bluegrass-inspired shred, to balls to the wall hard rock, and Morse hit every mark with precision during the dizzying display of versatility.
Following Morse, Satriani and his band hit the stage with a cacophony of screaming guitar noise, rollicking drum rolls, and fat bass thump. Satch stood confidently behind a pair of his signature Oakley sunglasses and ran through the locking tremolo theatrics, blisteringly fast fluid lead runs, and chunking rhythms of "Jumpin In" off of most recent release, Unstoppable Momentum. The crowd remained seated for the remainder of the show, no-doubt taking notes for the coming weeks of woodshedding, or perhaps simply placed in a state of shock by Satriani's inhuman control of the instrument.
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The set was a 20 song marathon of high octane rock guitar. Mike Keneally -- a guitar hero in his own right for many -- provided a foil for Satriani throughout the evening. Keneally appeared dressed for trivia night at the local pub in a pair of loose jeans and an open flannel shirt and made something of a comical image next to his slick bandmate. However, when the man traded bars of shredding guitar with Satriani, any preconceived notions prompted by Keneally's unassuming image were put to rest.
Perennial fan favorites, like signature song "Satch Boogie," punctuated the fare from Unstoppable Momentum. Satriani's melodic sense took center stage, and audience members could be heard actually singing the guitar lines back at the stage during certain songs. However, Satriani pulled out all of the stops when it came time to shine, leaving jaws on the floor with controlled feedback swells, impossibly accurate two-handed tapping, sounds that mimicked synthesizers, and a band interplay with drum phenom Marco Minnemann meeting Satriani at every corner.
The night was a celebration of what the guitar could do. Though Satriani's set was not the most dynamic, generally sticking to the gutsy shred overtures and singing leads that have made him the guitar hero's guitar hero, it was an intimate look at just what could be wrung from this instrument in the hands of a true master.
Personal Bias: Guitarist. Reformed shred fan.
The Crowd: 75% men, 100% could name all of their modes.
Random Detail: During "Shine On American Dreamer," the screen behind the stage took the audience on a ride through the desert.
-Flying in a Blue Dream
-The Weight of the World
-The Crush of Love
-I'll Put a Stone on Your Cairn
-A Door into Summer
-Lies and Truths
-Shine On American Dreamer
-Three Sheets to the Wind
-Always with Me, Always with You
-Surfing with the Alien
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