As someone who’s knowledge of Joe Satriani stretches only as far as guitars, sunglasses and recognition of the iconic Surfing with the Alien artwork, a  two hour instrumental guitar showcase was always going to be an interesting affair. As expected the Monday night crowd in Adelaide consistent primarily of guitar aficionados both young and old, ranging from those barely old enough to be allowed through the doors, through to the odd seventy year old, all standing together front-of-stage on a nightclub floor still sticky from the weekends festivities.

With no support act, it was still daylight when Joe hit the stage surprisingly launching with two new tracks including Energy and the funky back beat of the keyboard laden Catbot. The opening was followed up by a tune which was obviously more familiar to the crowd with Satch Boogie blaring across the room and the crowd finally getting right into the evening’s festivities.

After taking a well earnt breath and explaining to the crowd it had been thirty years since his first visit to Adelaide and how grateful he was to be able to return, the band was presented to the audience … with Joe Travers (Drums), Bryan Beller (Bass) and Mike Keneally (Keyboards, Guitar) grabbing their brief moments in the sun. An intricate, yet intense version of Cherry Blossom got things going again, before Flying In A Blue Dream in conjunction with spectacular big-screen graphics took the audience futuristic interstellar journey to another universe. So enthralled were the crowd by the on-screen journey, it was as if the band were simply there to provide the soundtrack to the intergalactic mission unfolding in front of them. Or maybe that was the point all along?

This ‘soundtrack’ theme continued throughout set, including the epic Thunder High on the Mountain which engulfed the audience like a raging storm front as the accompanying movie set the scene. The tempo changed frantically from track to track, from 1998’s intense tribal beats of Ceremony through to epic guitar duel of a blue-light drenched Ice 9.  The audience were totally spellbound by the onstage guitar-driven feats.

What’s this? An interval! Interesting.
This break unfortunately zapped a bit of the life out of the crowd, which once presented with the mellow bluesy grooves of Sleepwalk seemed content with an early night. This was of course until the lightning-fast finger work in Cool #9 and the full-tilt rock n roll of Head Rush brought the masses back to life.

By this stage Joe and the guys seemed intent on simply jamming, jamming and more insane jamming. An epic never-ending version of What Happens Next was closely followed by Super Funky Badass which had a guitar duel that had to be seen to be believed. In fact,… it wasn’t so much of a guitar duel as it was a full blown GUITAR WAR! Joe even apologised onstage for the band seemingly losing themselves once they started jamming.

One final laid-back track Always With Me Always With You, was followed by a grande finale consisting of the well-received Summer Song and an encore of Crowd Chant and the one everyone had been waiting for … Surfing with the Alien.  After two hours of intense shredding and duelling, Joe and the band stood exhausted in front of a standing ovation who can only hope the thirty relationship with Adelaide will be continued beyond this tour.

Live Review by Lindsay Bulach

Set List:

Energy
Catbot
Satch Boogie
Cherry Blossoms
Flying in A Blue Dream
Thunder High on the Mountain
Ceremony
Cataclysmic
Ice 9
——-

Sleep Walk
Cool #9
Head Rush
Drum Solo
What Happens Next
Super Funky Badass
Always With Me Always With You
Summer Song

Encore

Crowd Chant
Surfing With the Alien