November 24, 2006

CD Review: Joe Satriani - LIVE!

Joe Satriani is a guitar god. Of this there is no question, you can try and deny it all you want, but you already know that you are wrong. Any of his releases will give you enough reason to bow down and worship at his alter of sound. The live releases take it a step further and prove that he is more than a studio player. The live venue, wherever is may be, and in whatever fashion, be it solo, or with G3, is where he puts his abilities and talent on the line. The stage removes the safety net.

Let me begin by saying that I have always admired Satriani's playing, he incorporates incomparable technical skill and a heavy dose of emotion to each composition that he creates. That said, I have never followed his career all that closely, and while I have a few of his CDs, I cannot claim any great knowledge of his catalog. Still, when I listen to this live set, there are flashes of familiarity and a healthy dose of freshness.

When Satch leaves the studio, he takes it up a notch. From the opening of "Flying in a Blue Dream" to the final notes of "Summer Song" you are there. His blistering performance plays to both the mind and the heart. His technical proficiencies, speed, play to the brain while his technique and ability to combine notes in just the right combinations go right to the heart making to soul soar.

Joining Satch on stage are a trio of musicians that more than hold their own with the great one. Drum duties are ably handled by longtime band member Jeff Campitelli, a solid drummer who knows how to play the songs well. Dave LaRue handles the bass playing, and does a great job of showing his own abilities in the low end while stepping back while Joe does his thing. Lastly there is Galen Henson as the second six-stringer. He fills out the sound while allowing our ring leader more room to ply his brand of guitar mastery.

Now that you have been introduced to the rest of the band, that brings us to something else that can only be found on the live disks, the jam. Scattered throughout the familiar tunes, Joe and his stagemates throw in little jam sessions adding a little bit more flavor to the familiar. There is also something that is a bit more gripping in the live performance. I can't quite put my finger on it, but between the playing and the roar of the crowd, the music has a little more immediacy to it.

Bottomline. This is an album that any fan of guitar music should seek out and add to their collection. Twenty years after his debut, he continues to amaze. When it comes to live releases, I generally prefer the DVD, which this has as well, but the CD lets you take it on the road so you can experience it anywhere.



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