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Friday, January 14, 2011

Hometown Shredder Joe Satriani Rocks the Fox with Sammy Hagar and an Army of Fanboys

Posted By on Fri, Jan 14, 2011 at 9:17 AM

Satriani showing off at the Fox last night - RICHARD HAICK
  • Richard Haick
  • Satriani showing off at the Fox last night
Joe Satriani
Ned Evett & Triple Double
January 13, 2010
@ The Fox Theater, Oakland

Better than: Hearing Machine Head in high-school detention hall.

There's just something about the title of Joe Satriani's new album, Black Swans and Wormhole Wizards, that faintly shrieks "sausage party." Sure enough, as I ascended with my girl to the second balcony at the Fox last night, there was a superabundance of pasty adult males of every age on display. Most were reacting with various stages of denial to Ned Evett & Triple Double, the opening act, whose verbose frontman cooed hallelujahs and nattered distractedly of Jeff Buckley before giving up entirely.

  • Richard Haick
Wedging my broad peasant's frame into one of the theater's cute little miniature seats took work and my ticket number put me directly behind some earnest young fellow whose oddly peanut-shaped head was difficult not to kick every time I moved. The huge cheer that went up for the guy charged with tuning the great man's axe showed the crowd was good-humoredly restless and the very summit of the nosebleed seats was an acoustically perfect place to endure the ensuing two-hour metal bombardment that commenced as Joe and the band unwound a blistering "Ice-9," bright arty visuals flooded the triptych screens, and fans assumed various worshipful postures. 

  • Richard Haick
From this far up in the balcony, the show onstage resembled the capering of cinch bugs and aphids, but acoustically it was like a safe perch inside some old cabinet speaker. A freakishly talented multi-instrumentalist and guitar Yoda to the likes of Steve Vai and Metallica's Kirk Hammett, the impish Satriani has made a career out of just the kind of fluid, compressed, hypermelodic instrumental rock I've doted on since someone left Deep Purple on during Detention Hall. The dense crowd sloped off into a horn-throwing, headbanging mass that bellowed lustily every time one of Joe's intricate, deafening guitar explorations ended with the customary emphatic skronk. The setlist leaned on the proggier side of Joe's muse, with recent recordings blending well with the late 1980s Surfing with the Alien-era tracks that first won him notice. Like a chamber music recital or gamelan performance, it came to an elegant finish before all that showy virtuosity began to actually numb.

Given all the fret frenzies and pedal prowess that came before, it was something of a surprise to have good ole Sammy Hagar wander out for a fat funky Chickenfoot-style encore. His barrel-aged bluesman's holler sounded fine as ever on "Foxy Lady." On "I'm Going Down," Sammy declared Satch his "hero," the guitar deity looked ready to go for hours more, and so did the fans reluctantly clumping off into the relative peace of downtown Oakland.

  • Richard Haick

Random notebook dump: Is "Andalusia" Joe's "Lick My Love Pump" moment on this tour?


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