Joe Satriani blew an epic hole in the minds of Vancouverites on Friday night. Queen Elizabeth Theater played host to the guitar virtuoso, and also to a sold out house of fans. It was the setting for a great show, which would ultimately live up to its expectations.
Entering the venue it was clearly going to be an exciting night. The crowd was amped and ready from the moment they came pouring through that gold trimmed entrance way. The merchandise stand was swarmed and left bare. The bar line was long and with a two drink maximum saw patrons returning over and over to replenish their stocks. The horde filtered through the final passage and began to sit, eagerly staring at the stage in anticipation, myself included.
I stood near the stage and stared, as the roadies pitter-pattered back and forth, arranging the equipment. The lights fell, and darkness cast its veil. Rows of cone lights above the stage illuminated in rich blues as Satch and his band took over the stage. A few words were uttered to the fans and then they immediately dove into their material.
Satriani, as usual, was a perfect specimen of guitar control and display. He worked up and down the fret board with ease and near robotic precision. I watched as those in the first few rows, the only ones illuminated by the stage lights, sat wide eyed and looked completely flabbergasted. A set of spot lights focused on Joe and one of his accompanying musicians. Both worked over their instruments with precision.
Mr.Satriani has an uncanny ability to personify the angelic voice of his stringed tool. Its mystic harmony echoed through the halls and saturated the sensors of those in its presence. After the completion of almost every single lick, dozens upon dozens of audience members rose to their feet and applauded heartily. It was intense and yet I was impressed at how fragile he was able to keep it.
A huge screen behind the artist was a flutter with the supporting stream of imagery. War and political pieces washed past through the first half a dozen songs. Then a more mystic feeling took over the display, swirling vortices and geometric patterns accentuated the latter musical numbers.
Overall I was blow away by this mans ability to create mesmerizing riffs and mind expanding solos. My heart felt applause at the culmination of each song, was reiterated by each and every member in that crowd, with gusto. After the set came to a close the applause lasted nearly a quarter hour. Joe Satriani is the reason to love your guitar. This show will easily go down as one of my favorites of 2011, and I can say without hesitation that I am not alone on this one.
Joe Satriani photos © Jamie Taylor