I'm puzzled that there aren't many reviews for this tour. I can understand the divide on Chickenfoot, as I found it fairly lukewarm and beneath Satriani's efforts. However, I feel this is a much more genuine vehicle for his extraordinary talents and should be lauded as such.
Here’s an amalgam of thoughts on last night’s show…
Performance-wise, this was a guitar fan's wet dream come true. Unfortunately, execution on the crew side of things left much to be desired. From where I was sitting (fourth row, center balcony) the bass was overpowering and drowned out many of the other instruments. By the end of the show, I was GLAD that I was wearing ear plugs. The breakneck pace of show also had its drawbacks. With little time to fine-tune things, the crowd was at the mercy of the FOH engineer.
Guitar volume levels were inconsistent throughout the whole show and it became increasingly difficult to discern some of the instruments. This was most apparent towards the end of the show, when Satriani and Vernon Reid were sharing the stage and I could hardly hear Vernon's solos. In addition, pairing Robert Randolph with two other pedal steel players was a great idea on paper, but a lot of his magic was lost in a cacophony of harmonized lines.
Some notes on the performances... (Not in order)
Living Colour was a blast. Corey Glover is an amazing vocalist and was committed to getting the audience into the show. He spanned the entire theatre during "Crosstown Traffic."
Jonny Lang and Brad Whitford were a fantastic tandem. Susan Tedeschi joined them and she more than held her own. "Spanish Castle Magic" was awesome.
Kenny Wayne Shepherd stole the show in my opinion. His guitar tone was the clearest and he absolutely played his ass off. Equal parts Jimi and Stevie, he knocked his covers out of the park. "I Don't Live Today" "Come On (Part 2)" and "Voodoo Chile"/Voodoo Chile (Slight Return)" were unbelievably good.
David Hidalgo had the unenviable task of following Shepherd, and he proved to be quite solid. I especially liked his tone on "Can You See Me?" Susan Tedeschi and Howlin' Wolf guitarist Hubert Sumlin joined him for "Killing Floor."
I was thrilled to finally see Eric Johnson live and he sounded very good both vocally and on guitar. "House Burning Down" and "One Rainy Wish" (with Susan Tedeschi on vocals) were exceptional. Great to see he's still stretching as a melodic improviser. My friend said it best, "Elegant."
Joe was the last all-star to take the stage. I'm so used to hearing Joe's incredible live tone that I was really disappointed. His fluid, explosive runs failed to definitively slice through the mix because of the aforementioned technical complications. I also felt a little slighted when watching Joe dig into his "trick bag" with the pick taps and was hoping that he would stretch for new levels of brilliance like I've grown to expect. I'm sure he was just trying to respectfully serve the songs, while leaving room for his collaborators.
Overall, I thought the song choices were very good for each artist. I would have preferred to hear Joe work his magic on "Burning of The Midnight Lamp", "Midnight", "Pali Gap" or another unconventional gem. Perhaps subsequent tours will highlight more of these lesser-known treasures.
Hopefully, this tour will be a great catalyst for some inspired new material from Joe. If you're a fan of Hendrix or just great electric guitar playing, check this tour out. You'll be glad you did.