Yes, There are Guitar Gods In Space and on Earth

Bonnie Godas

I have seen a lot of bands, probably too many to mention, but Joe Satriani was not on that list prior to his amazing show on October 14 in Boston. I knew he played guitar, but did not know what I was in for. After seeing him at the Orpheum Theater, one of the coolest places to see a show, in my opinion, I was totally blown away.

After a classic performance from the opening band Mountain featuring Leslie West and Corky Laing, who took the crowd down memory lane with their 70’s anthem Nantucket Sleigh Ride and Mississippi Queen, we were ready for some more rock n’ roll. Suddenly appearing on stage along with musicians Stu Hamm on bass, Jeff Campbell on drums, and Galen Henson on guitar was this small but mighty man. He had that classic look of a guitar player that said he clearly meant business. With full speed, he attacked his guitar with a vengeance integrating a sound that permeated every corner of the theater. The music that he created on his innumerous signature Ibanez guitars was indescribable, lifting me into a mesmerizing state that took me away on some type of galactic journey. During the fifteen-song set including the encore, Satriani took his fans on a familiar “metal trip” that ultimately transcended them into a new frontier.

But the difference here was that, unlike most rock shows, there were no lyrics. There didn’t need to be-the music did all the talking. Opening with two new songs, I Just Want to Rock and Overdriver from his new album (Professor Satchafunkilus and the Musterion of Rock), Satriani proved to us that this was what he was meant to do. Influenced by legendary guitar players like Jimi Hendrix, Jeff Beck, Van Halen, and Jimmy Page, Satriani has managed to take his technical knowledge and incorporate his own unique style of playing that consists of gutsy and intense hooks and a mind boggling intensity of sight and sound that reaches the pit of your stomach.

If it seems like Satriani’s style echoed NASA and the Twilight Zone, that’s not too far off from the theme of his show. His song Ice 9 is actually the name of the secret weapon used in Kurt Vonnegut’s Cat’s Cradle. Ghosts, another Sci- Fi undertaking with the backdrop-flashing screen of White Noise could have been taken right out of an episode of Star Trek.

One of the highlights of this show was a solo by bass player Stu Hamm, who played electric bass unlike anything I have ever scene, plunking out chunks of funk, blues and rock and playing to perfection an amazing rendition of Led Zeppelin’s Over the Hills and Far Away.

No one was going to let this band get away too fast. After a huge ovation, Satriani and his band came back on stage for a four song encore including two decent blues songs with Leslie West that reminded us of what a lot of these musicians played in the beginning of their careers.

It was an amazing ending to a night featuring great musicians and after seeing Satriani, I’m sorry to say that my air guitar days are over.