Sunday, May 21, 2023

Joe Satriani @ Olympia, Paris - May 21st, 2023

This was another one of those concerts that was postponed several times and it was well worth the wait. Satch played two fantastic sets, totaling nearly two and a half hours of music. That's because, since the world came to a halt over three years ago, Joe Satriani released two new records: Shapeshifting in 2020 and The Elephants Of Mars in 2022. So there's a lot we need to catch up on.

Backed by a formidable band comprised of guitarist/keyboardist Rai Thistlethwayte, bassist Bryan Beller of The Aristocrats and superstar journeyman drummer Kenny Aronoff, Joe took the audience along for a ride in his time machine to visit the past, the present and the future... Because the sounds that come out of his instrument are nothing if not futuristic. In fact, they may not be of this Earth at all.

What's striking about Joe Satriani's music is that it's actually pretty simple. Of course, you need to be a virtuoso like him to play them competently, but the songs are really hooky, hummable and uncomplicated. This isn't prog-rock: it's just instrumental rock. And even if there is a certain jazz fusion element to some of his compositions, their basic structures, riffs and melodies aren't at all convoluted or abstract. This is why his music appeals to more than just muso-type audiences. 

That said, the guy's playing is simply jaw-dropping. And what's more astonishing is how easy he makes it look. Like his friend Steve Vai, Joe has been unfairly lumped in with the shredder crowd because of his fretboard dexterity, when in fact he is closer to a Jeff Beck or an Allan Holdsworth: someone whose guitar is an extension of his being, music pouring out of him every second like a constant stream of creativity. Oh, he shreds like a motherfucker too, but at no point is it just a guitar clinic.

Another striking element of Joe's music is its variety. There's the Surf-Metal heroics of Satch Boogie, the gritty Funk of E 104th St. NYC 1973, the jazzy Cool #9, the quasi operatic Always With Me, Always With You, the driving Hard Rock of Summer Song, and all of it is infused with some version of the Blues, because that's where it all starts and ends.

A wonderful evening of music where the beauty of the compositions, the proficiency and the joy of the performers and the uniqueness of the sounds coming out of the star player's instrument all came together and left the audience feel as though they'd been surfing with the alien.

Re-live the concert by playing the setlist in the embedded Apple Music player below!
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