Concert Reviews

Joe Satriani at The Danforth Music Hall

Photographs by Dawn Hamilton.

Music industry today is one of the worst industries anybody can ever hope to get into. It’s the wild-west period for the industry, and while a lot of opportunities can be created as an outcome of such uncertainty, a lot can also be left unheard, unseen, and unnoticed. To raise your chance even higher for going undiscovered, try to be innovative. That, is something that has remained unchanged since the beginning of the industry all together. Business is conservative, and conservation is the opposite of innovation. There was, however, a golden decade when all the laws and rules were suspended for the sheer purpose of innovation: The 1960’s. It was the very mentality and the culture of the Flower Power society, created by the uncertain creative people and embraced by the uncertain business people, that nurtured people like Steve Jobs, Frank Zappa, Stevie Wonder, Richard Branson, Steve Wozniak, Peter Gabriel, and Steve Vai. One of those people who went to become one of the most innovative musicians and the guitar players in the history of the craft was Joe Satriani. Born in Westbury, New York in 1956, Satriani was inspired to play guitar at age 14, after hearing about the death of the legendary guitar player, Jimi Hendrix. Over the next couple of decades after the inspiration, Joe Satriani did to instrumental guitar music what Hendrix had done to electric guitar music. While training some of the greatest guitar players of his own era, including Steve Vai, Larry LaLonde, Alex Skolnick, and Charlie Hunter, Joe Satriani developed the cult-like following and appreciation for instrumental music around the central element of electric guitar in 1980’s. He changed the rules and recreated his own, and surfed on that creation for 30 years.

The legendary guitar alien was back in Toronto to perform as a part of his latest tour, Surfing Shockwave. At the sold-out show on a Friday night, the fans patiently awaited the arrival of the legend on the stage and cheered as loud as they could at the fall of the large screen as it uncovered the rock quartet, starting with the title track of Satriani’s latest album, Shockwave Supernova. The always smiling guitar legend continued with one of his all time classics, Flying in a Blue Dream. Satriani then continued by introducing the band, possibly the greatest setup he has toured with in his carrier: 

The great Mike Keneally on guitar and keyboards, the great Marco Minnemann on drums, and the great Bryan Beller on bass. 

For any musician, this was a masterclass of extreme magnitude. Each one of these men on the stage had decades of world-class experience behind their belts, projected in their minds, and expressed through their hands and fingers via their instruments. And for any music lover, this was the definition of satisfaction. 

The band continued with a setlist filled with some of Satriani’s greatest songs, including: 

Ice 9, Crystal Planet, Not of This Earth, On Peregrine Wings, Time, If I could Fly, Butterfly and Zebra, Cataclysmic, Summer Song, Always With Me Always With You, God is Crying, Satch Boogie, and Friends which Satriani said though a great fun to write, it took him an unusually long time to record, because he just wanted to get it right. It was the song that meant a lot to him as it was the message he wanted to share with his fans: Friendship. 

The air-tight performance, the amazing sound quality, and the very well planned light-show synced with every beat and stroke of the guitar picks, all came together to give the hundreds of Rock guitar loving audience goosebumps and fill the Danforth Music Hall with yet another memorable performance. You gotta love Joe Satriani and everything he has done for the instrumental music and electric guitar. I for one will never get tired of see and hear this legend, and I suggest that you do yourselves a huge favor and catch the man and his amazing band at your earliest convenience. 

About author

Photographer, and Senior Music Writer at Live in Limbo. Agah is a musician, sound designer, and hobbyist writer & photographer. He is a voting member of the Recording Academy (GRAMMY Awards), and former voting member and judge of CARAS (JUNO Awards).