Thursday, July 3, 2014 – Beverly Hills, California

Article by Oscar Jordan

Photos by Kimberly Annette ©2014

Swedish guitar virtuoso Yngwie J. Malmsteen has taken matters into his own hands and decided to fill the void left by Joe Satriani’s G3 tour. In a world where popular music is completely devoid of twenty-ton power chords, diabolical guitar solos, and epic fantasy motifs, Malmsteen has chosen to deliver us from evil with his Guitar Gods tour. With the help of Guns N’ Roses guitarist Ron “Bumblefoot” Thal and blues-shred phenom Gary Hoey, Thursday night at The Saban Theater was full of high-velocity soloing, and unadulterated mayhem.

Gary Hoey - Guitar Gods - Photo by Kimberly Annette ©2014

Gary Hoey – Guitar Gods – Photo by Kimberly Annette ©2014

A long time solo artist since the late 1980s, Ron “Bumblefoot” Thal has been a member of Guns N’ Roses since 2006. Hardcore fans lined up to bare witness to his fretless, double-necked guitar prowess. He performed idiosyncratic songs like “Objectify,” and his re-imagining of “The Pink Panther Theme” by Henry Mancini

Augmenting his guitar virtuosity with vocals made for an entertaining set. Bumblefoot cut loose with a raw punk vibe, offset by nightmarish guitar licks. His “grooming challenged” appearance was in stark contrast to the more manicured presence of his co-headliners. It was an excellent performance from a guitarist comfortable within the context of his own individuality. Bumblefoot melted brain cells, particularly on “Color Of Justice.”

Gary Hoey was the master of taste and tone for the evening. He was absolutely stellar within a set that was far too short. His note selection was perfect, yielding expert use of speed and soul. His back catalogue is full of entertaining yet accessible music, and his set at the Saban Theater displayed some choice cuts. His humble stage demeanor was genuine, making him the monster guitarist you’d most likely want to have a beer with

He displayed all the theatrical guitar gymnastics that embody melodic instrumental rock guitar ala “Utopia,” along with some classic blues covers like “Born Under A Bad Sign.” Putting his own spin on “Hocus Pocus” by Focus is a work of genius when it comes to crowd-pleasing material. Hoey performed a great set that was entertaining for both guitar freaks, and the few females in attendance.

Yngwie Malmsteen has reached a whole new level of narcissism, with an entire wall of Marshall stacks on stage that reached fifteen feet high and spread across ¾ of the stage pushing his band into a tiny corner. His singer doubled on a small keyboard, and his bass player stood in one place and chugged 16th notes while trying not to steal focus from “The Maestro.” The drummer simply kept the time for the most part, and the rhythm section house mix was lousy.

80% of the stage was used for Malmsteen to skip and dance in front of his Marshall stacks like a leather-clad ballerina playing in a windstorm. He used backing tracks to play against Gregorian chant vocal sounds, as well as his symphonic compositions. It worked for the most part but when you display a superior attitude toward your band, it’s less forgiving.

This was the worst Yngwie Malmsteen performance this reviewer has ever witnessed – while still being very enjoyable. As if his compositions aren’t busy enough, Malmsteen over-played relentlessly. His set was a non-stop note fest with dropped guitar parts, and the occasional flubbed note. A lot of the time he was ahead of the beat leaving his band behind.

Compositions such as “Evil Eye” allow for notes to sing and breathe. Malmsteen could neither sing nor breathe. In his early days it was his bluesy note selection, offset by blazing shred that made him interesting. Today he rarely holds a note for any length of time. His backing band looked like lowly slaves as he performed classics, newer material, and gems like “Seventh Sign,” “Riot In The Dungeon,” “Dreaming,” “Krakatau,” and “I’ll See The Light Tonight.”

With all that said, Malmsteen put on an energetic set. Aerial guitar stunts, hair flips, kicks, effortless shred, splits, feedback, and guitar destruction were in great abundance. In the end, savage Viking fury was felt by all in attendance.












The Guitar Gods at The Saban Theater
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