Joe Satriani 12th June 2013 – Colston Hall, Bristol

Matt Schofield opening for Joe Satriani

There was a lot of nervous excitement at Colston Hall as the crowds surged in the doors past the Satriani road tour buses, expectations were high and everyone wanted the music to start.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Kick starting the celebration of the guitar tonight was the Matt Schofield Trio with the phenomenal Evan Jenkins on drums and the ever-present Johnny Henderson on the Hammond organ. This line-up is my personal favourite there being an understanding, mutual respect and common purpose between all three of the musicians on stage. Matt is without doubt a quality guitarist delivering a purity with a style that has the competing combinations of control and freedom that produces a sound of the blues delivered like no other guitarist on the circuit today. His style is certainly distinctive readily recognisable and is fast becoming to the blues what Joe Satriani is to rock guitarists; thus this line-up makes perfect sense as this pair of consummate guitarist just took different forks in the road of the musical highway! It was a great set by the Matt Schofield Trio opening up the proceedings with favourites ‘Shipwrecked Baby‘; ‘Siftin’ Thru Ashes’ and ‘I Don’t Know What I’d Do’. It was obvious that they were loving playing in a larger venue with a great sound that suited them perfectly, and it was nice to see Matt out not with his faithful old Strat but his new It was not Matt’s old strat, its his new SVL 61 Reserve; it is awesome.

Joe Satriani - Colston Hall Britol - June 2013_0030l

We had the band that combines vocals and guitar playing now for the main act of the evening Joe Satriani, who has dropped the vocals and delivers an all-instrumental format with his band that includes on the Keys and second guitar Mike Keneally, formerly of Frank Zappa; where he was the renowned ‘stunt guitarist’! also on stage was Bass Player Bryan Beller, and heavy hitting drummer Marco Minnemann on drums. Joe Satriani is definitely a change of genre, now we have rock but let’s not get into this boring pigeon-holing debate – talent is talent and high quality live music is always a pleasure. Joe’s guitar playing on his collection of Ibanez guitars has a clarity and precision which reflects Matt’s playing so we have a great example tonight of two similar techniques producing different sounds, so a win-win event for all. Joe has without any argument a phenomenal technique using the whole of the electric guitar and more as he squeezes every drop of musicality out of the instrument producing a Technicolor aural event. Combining this music fest is the very presence of Joe Satriani’s iconic image, his dark glasses are almost “compound eyes” we really felt as if we were surfing with an alien.

The strobe effect of the video backdrop complimented the urgency of the sound with some wicked foot stomping rhythms; the video footage changed reflecting the mood of the music that was definitely pleasing the crowds and we were being treating to a cosmopolitan listening extravaganza. Tracks included tonight dreamingly from another place, ‘Flying in a Blue Dream’ and the complete opposite with an awesome rendition of a Satriani signature track ‘Satch Boogie’ that is a foot stamping affair that raises the blood level; what ever the number a generous fox of Satriani guitar magic dust was added to the diverse mix this was always going to include tracks from his highly acclaimed current album including an opportunity for harmonisation with Mike on the title track, Unstoppable Momentum demonstrating different guitar styles that blend and weave together.

The most amazing mix for me of video and music was the backdrop of a wide open panorama of an American Highway which drew you in and the music transported you out of Colston Hall and right onto the freeway as a guitar anthem ‘Shine on American Dreams’; it was like living a dream of pure freedom for a few precious musical moments.
I am no guitar geek, and this was the first time I had heard Joe Satriani live, and I was not disappointed and the guitar changes were not just to bring on the technicians they did sound different and matched the tracks being played; so this was no self-indulgent process but like everything else Satriani does it was for the music! I was disappointed that the music wasn’t more avant-garde; it felt like this was delivery of music and guitar techniques honed to perfection and now he had stopped setting himself and the audiences any aural challenges.

Overall, despite the lack of interaction between Joe Satriani and the audience making him seem rather remote, this was a fantastic evening of live music and would recommend anyone who has not experienced Joe Satriani live – go – you will be entertained and see some amazing guitar playing, and instrumental delectation that will be a treat to your senses.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Ian Siegal and The Mississippi Mudbloods @The Garage, Islington

Ian Siegal and The Mississippi Mudbloods @ The Garage, Islington 8th May 2013


The support tonight was provided by a micro version of Dave Migden & The Dirty Words, comprising Dave accompanied by guitarist Joe Gibson, and what a fine duo they make delivering some superb covers including Taj Mahal’s ‘Fishing Blues’ interspersed with stripped back versions of numbers from ‘Killing It’, their recent acclaimed CD; with Reverend Jack Crow being quite sublime in this pared back acoustic version. This was a great performance including some new tracks demonstrating once again why they are storming the circuit at the moment and were definitely an ideal opening act, with Dave’s voice and their own unique and stylish take on the blues, for the only UK gig of Ian Siegal and The Mississippi Mudbloods. This was a sizzling evening which started on top form as the band opened up with ‘Picnic Jam’; featuring Luther’s slide guitar skills and great harmonising interplay between Ian and Luther. And layered on top of this wall of sound is Ian’s voice what a start to a set that just got better and better with the bar being constantly raised as they just played to ever higher standards. This is a band that enjoys the music and interplay between them and they never forget that it is audience they have to please so this is not a self-indulgent performance but one that takes the crowd with them who enjoyed every note and would have been happy if there had been no curfew and the band could have played on through the night.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.


The performance of ‘I am The Train’, which has developed into a great live number and is simply just fantastic and shows why this track has been nominated in the 2013 British Blues Awards, shows why the song has become synonymous with the latest album ‘Candy Store Kid’; This format with Luther on guitar allows Ian freedom that is not always available in the trio format, so his voice can really dominate and the extra guitar gives another layer of sound and when Luther plays the slide there is a rawness that slinks and slithers you all the way back to the darkest depths of a dirty prehistoric swamp… with the support of a superb rhythm section comprising Cody Dickinson (drums) and Carwyn Ellis (bass) to complete the sound sketching that draws you ever deeper into the darkness of a swampy bayou; as evidenced by the low down dirty rendition of ‘King Fish’. Then my head almost exploded as an old Siegal favourite ‘She’s Got The Devil in Her’ hit the airwaves; which has appeared on many a live set list and always performed differently as the story and musical techniques are developed – tonight was a simply superb version – for me it was sex on a guitar! The ending of for me an all too short set was a jam with Luther being experimental with the creative use of feedback creating a hauntingly effect an resulted in an unexpected creative finish. The evening would not have been complete without Ian; finishing with a moving tribute to Big George a truly fine Glaswegian bluesman, who has been an important part of Ian’s life; ‘Take a walk in The Wilderness’. The encore a clever rendition of ‘Hard Pressed’; with various tunes threaded through including Prince’s Sign of The Times; and closing with a beautiful version of ‘Forever Young’… phew what a fizzing evening of music which delivered the full gamut of emotions, the atmosphere was hot and steamy and everyone was energized by a great event of live music.
Ian Siegal and Mississippi Mudbloods - The Garage - May 2013_0187l
There is no doubt that the music played tonight by both acts is blues that is relevant modern and the sound of now, it is not trying to recreate a sound of yesteryear but taking the genre to places that need to be explored. This is music that is a live sound thus firmly rooted to the original bluesmen and women who toured and played to live audiences using equipment and techniques available; think what their talent would be producing if they had the resources available in the twenty-first century! I am pretty darn sure it would be very different from the traditional and dare I say it often bluesy Blues being produced by bands that are scared to loosen the apron strings of ‘blues tradition….

Ian Siegal and Mississippi Mudbloods - The Garage - May 2013_0280l

Missed this brilliant gig – Ian Siegal and The Mississippi Mudbloods are back in UK later this year appearing at various venues including at Gloucester Guildhall, 7th November 2013 The Flowerpot, Derby on 8th November 2013, courtesy of RAW Promo and Carlisle Rock & Blues Festival 8 – 10th November 2013, which includes two performances including the Mudbloods unplugged.