Date: July 15 – 19 2008
Venue: New Plymouth TSB Stadium NZ (This was the only place I got to see but there were clinics during the week at various places).
My G-Taranaki visit came out of bribery really, I said to my cousin, “You drive me down, I’ll pay the tickets!” he was instantly sold! Due to work and family commitments we decided to go on the Thursday night to catch the main show on the Friday and Saturday show.
Although the weather was a constant state of drizzle and rain, it did not hamper the excitement as we drove near the venue. There was a buzz in the air, I was about to witness people I have been waiting for over 15 years to see!
On the Friday night, imagine our dismay when we figured out the hotel staff had given us the wrong directions!! Because of this we missed the first 20 mins of Paul Martins 3 piece agro-metal band World War 4. Of what we did see his band as usual sounded solid, the highlight being his original ‘Pet Hate’, even some of the lighter rockers couldn’t help but get into the groove. From what I saw, an excellent set.
Paul Martin announced he is now the festival MC and that also Alex Skolnick Trio was ready to hit the stage. In that one sentence the crowd went crazy, people appeared out of nowhere and the crowd instantly doubled. I’m so use to seeing Alex playing thrash guitar I wasn’t sure how I was going to like seeing him play jazz guitar. Needless to say after I picked my jaw off the ground I was sold. This guy turned old school metal classics into jazz! The drummer and bass player were also very creative and never missed a beat, in fact from the whole band there was zero errors, everything was as it should be. I would encourage people of all walks of music to attend one of these shows!
For me Gilby Clarke wasn’t my thing, but right from the word go I was hooked on his straight up rock. No flashy guitar gymnastics or theatrics, just straight up balls to the wall rock! He even threw in a couple of G’n’R classics to keep the crowd hyped up. I’m not familiar with his original music but after seeing him live I have now ordered online.
Gary Bartlett never had my interest and he didn’t win it tonight either. I found this a good time to get an overpriced but oversized burger, bourbon and an inflatable guitar!
Now it was time for the main event: Uli Jon Roth!!
His set had been delayed by technical errors in the set up, a pedal wasn’t working or something like that, but the excited crowd didn’t care, the whole mood of the weekend was one of happiness and excitement, a trouble free affair! Then this skinny hippy looking guy walks out on stage with an odd shaped guitar. At that moment the crowd exploded! A huge roar of fans old and new sounded, raised fists and spilt bourbons! Announcing the set will be shorter due the techie errors he ripped into a neo-classical-metal number to warm the crowd up. That he did. Another roar from the crowd erupted as he introduced Liz Vandall to sing on his tune. Then a familiar voice of metal, Mark Boals (Malmsteen’s singer) came through the speakers, now I’ve never really been one to like high singing voices on guys, but damn! The range on this guy was bloody incredible! Uli even broke a string on his guitar but like a true pro, continued playing on with the remaining five. My cousin and I laughed as he announced due to the time restraints he cut down one of his songs. And although he did this the song still remained about quarter of an hour long! A great set which he finished up with a couple of Scorpion numbers! Just when we thought it was over out walks Alex Skolnick to join Uli for some Hendrix numbers. There is a god and they were onstage!
The Saturday definitely had a challenge of topping a great Friday night! But even in the first bands act I was floored by their excellent guitar skills, but also a special guest: Darren Broughton. Those of you who knew his band The Nod would know what a talent this guy is! I always wanted to see the Nod play live but they split before I could, so this was the next best thing! They played a few Nod songs which were kick ass!
Tim Donahue was next. He plays a funny guitar/harp thing. But after the initial look at the funny guitar I disappeared for a hotdog and bourbon. I came back after his set (It was like elevator music).
Vernon Reid. Legend. Right from the moment he was onstage the energy never faltered. He did 2 Living Colour songs, but not the hits. But no one cared as his set of originals blew everyone away. By far the loudest applause of the festival!
I could pretty much say the same thing for Glenn Hughes. The voice of rock. The king in tight jeans. For some reason his set seemed a lot shorter than I thought. It rocked and it rolled but we wanted more! The crowd was on a high, everything was kicking ass! Kara Gordon who won the Rock2Wgtn was his lead guitar while the brothers from Hamilton band 848 filled guitar and drums. Lucky guys! They just gigged with rock royalty!
But the main event, Joe Satriani, was the one I’ve been waiting to see since I was around 9-10 years old (Around 20 years). The crowd filled to capacity, guys were even whistling at the girl who was helping set up the stage. Poor girl hahaha.
But once Joe hit the stage everything was right. It seemed as though they pulled out all the stops for New Zealand, playing guitar with the teeth and Stu Hamm (Bass) playing his guitar like it was a shotgun and blasting the crowd with his bass riffs. Jeff’s smile could be seen from behind the kit, that guy always looks like he is having fun! And Galen worked the crowd when he wasn’t backing Joe up. When they played ‘Flying in a blue dream’ I was moved, I would have died a happy man if I did then. But song after song they blew every band out of the arena. His newer material left some of the crowd scratching their heads, but his old stuff definitely still had the goods. Some people even cried, some people were like those religious people in those church groups who scream hallelujah! But everyone was happy. A top night from a top act left me feeling 20 years younger and absolutely satisfied.
A great weekend free of incidents and pure audio kick assness!