@ Newcastle City Hall, October 21 2010

Let the guitar do the talking is Joe Satriani’s ideology, and even if his guitar were a gossiping fishwife with a serious case of verbal diarrhoea, I think we’d still listen for hours. Sporting his trademark shades and enough guitars to collectively break the sound barrier, Satriani and his professional crew showed that they are firmly able to deliver both quantity and quality, with a lengthy and fearsome performance at Newcastle City Hall.

If Simon McBride doesn’t ring a bell then let me be the first to say that he’s a serious pocket of talent waiting to explode into popularity.  As a perfect warmer for the night, the Irishman’s three-piece gave a solid set of blues soaked rock.  Down To The Wire triggered a tingling numbness to the left side of the face with pre-recorded electronic sounds providing the backing to some beautiful guitar work that would even get a nod of respect from Satch himself.

Give him the spotlight and Satriani will have no trouble boosting the evening’s pleasantries into a wilder affair.  From the classic Surfing With The Alien album, Ice 9 began a finely selected set that consistently flowed, hosting a healthy mixture of old and new.

Satriani needs his guitar to truly communicate, and without it he’d ironically be like The Silver Surfer without his board – unable to fully function.  In an enthusiastic burst of energy that seemed endless, he was evidently lost in the music, completely transfixed throughout, especially in the stunning rendition of Flying In A Blue Dream.  Every note is met with contorted facial expressions, manifesting the ultimate presentation of true satisfaction in the guitar hero.

The tenacity of his latest studio attempt did more than enough to titillate yet tantalise at the same time, with the prospect of hearing new songs on the stage an exciting one.  Fortunately it didn’t matter whether it was the funky wah-wah licks of Dream Song or the breezy country blues of Littleworth Lane – each of them were poignantly executed.

Conjuring a spacey atmosphere, Wormhole Wizards suddenly flew into light-speed, with infectious riffs packed in between the virtuoso’s continually impressive solo picking.

Satriani’s vocal chords might not get a regular run out, but rarity of the night Big Bad Moon saw him take to the mic.  Satch isn’t a bad singer by any means but inevitably it feels less natural for him.

Decidedly more comfortable without the singing, he returned for the encore in style. Reassuming his primary mode of communication in the form of a blood red Ibanez JS100, he belted out Crowd Chant, allowing fans to literally translate every riff and note for him.

If his constant source of successful material and phenomenal live shows are anything to go by, we’ll expect to see even more from Joe Satriani.  After all, there’s no doubt he knows how to play a show just like the back of his hand – or should I say the neck of his fretboard?

Calum Robson