Joe Satriani brings his retrospective tour and ‘otherworldly’ fusion-rock metal to Clearwater

By Chyrisse Tabone, Rock At Night Correspondent Tampa

Venue: Ruth Eckerd Hall, Clearwater, Florida–March 17, 2016

Joe Satriani
Joe Satriani

Joe Satriani kicked off his retrospective “Surfing to Shockwave” tour in Seattle in late-February, which is continuing its sonic journey across the U.S. and terminates in Vancouver at the end of April. The tour’s intention was to reflect on a lot of classic Satriani hits between his break-through second solo album Surfing With the Alien to his recent and 15th solo album Shockwave Supernova.

Rock At Night saw Satriani receive “The Maestro” award at the Classic Rock Roll of Honour Awards in London in November 2015 and now we are proud to review his concert at the Ruth Eckerd Hall, Clearwater, Florida on March 17, 2016. It is funny, when I think of Joe Satriani two things immediately come to mind—virtuosity and generosity. Satriani is one of those rare breeds that loves to share and collaborate with musicians (think “G3” and Chickenfoot) but also sponsors non-profit organizations like Little Kids Rock, which provides new musical instruments and lessons for teachers to expand music education. At the concert last night there was a special raffle for a JS Surfing 20th Anniversary Guitar plus two roundtrip airline tickets to San Francisco to meet Joe. Word has always been in the industry that “Joe is a hellava’ nice guy” and a “musician’s musician”.

The concert set kicked off with a curtain rising to reveal Marco Minnemen (drums), Bryan Bellar (Bass), and Mike Keneally (keyboard, guitars) and the sound of Satriani’s wailing electric guitar blasting “Shockwave Supernova” as he emerged on stage. He was dressed in a black t-shirt, black pants, a silver jacket, black high-top sneakers, and sporting his now signature shaved head and black wraparound sunglasses. His guitar featured multi-colored stylized space creatures painted on the guitar body. Later in the concert he held up the guitar, asking the audience to “Say hello to my little friend.”

During the evening, Satriani switched between various Ibanez JS Series guitars, depending on the song. I observed quite a few Marshall stack amps and an array of pedals. The acoustics in Ruth Eckerd Hall, as always, were stellar and especially suited to this kind of progressive rock performance.

For me personally, the concert was almost a hallucinogenic experience between the music, which was a melding of jazz-fusion and metal rock. I watched the background screen, which often mimicked flying over canyons, mountains, crashing ocean waves, psychedelic swirls, and octopus arms, and I was propelled to another dimension. What amazed me while watching the retro videos of longhaired “young” Joe (“Summer Song” and “Crazy Joe”) was the synchronicity of the video with his playing on stage. The hand positions on the neck of the guitar appeared to match the videos on the screen.

During the concert Satriani attacked his guitar, working his way up and down the neck, like a madman. He used both hands to tap the strings and the guitar almost appeared to be screeching and speaking, as if a creature from another planet. In fact, my thought during this whole concert, which was often themed with science fiction references, was “Is he an alien? This music is other-worldly”. The albums, CDs, and videos do not serve justice—you must experience the sensory sensation of his live performance.

Satriani paused to introduce a few of his songs with a witty one-liner or a short story. “Crystal Planet” was introduced by saying “When it is getting hot I’ve got to be as cool as I can” and he expressed his heartfelt appreciation of all his colleagues, friends and family saying, “So many people are central to making the songs happen—different studios engineers and musicians.” He dedicated “Friends” to the audience and jumped right into the song, while photos of family and friends displayed in the background. Satriani introduced “Butterfly and Zebra” by saying it was a love song about a special relationship and that it was probably “the only love song written about an animal and an insect falling in love.”

The performance of the band was phenomenal and needs to be commended. Keneally adeptly held the guitar and played while standing at the keyboard. He would often walk and stand beside Satriani playing dueling guitars. He appeared to be quite an accomplished guitarist in his own right. Bass play Bryan Bellar’s hair swayed in time with the music the whole evening and he attacked the strings with fury and aggression. Minnemann was a sight to behold on the drums as he slammed the sticks on the toms and cymbals. I wondered how many drum heads he has gone through with this kind of action.

Satriani often paced up and down the stage, bending and arching his back, while attacking the guitar. He was truly feeling the emotion (as the audience did by applauding and arm raising), often doing the guitar-gasm faces of joy—and joy it was. There was a 15-minute intermission between this 2 1/2 hour show and I chatted with other audience members who confessed to feeling quite emotional while watching his performance. Being well-behaved adults, they might not have outwardly shown it.   The music, afterall, is cerebral and not head-banging, although there was plenty of nodding and head-bopping going on.

Standing ovations occurred after “If I Could Fly”, “Summer Song”, and “Satch Boogie” which brought out the encore which included harmonica, guitar, and vocal-driven “Big Bad Moon”.   “Surfing With the Alien” was a lot of fun to hear and watch as the silver surfer cartoon was displayed in the background.

I strongly suggest catching Joe Satriani during this tour if you have never seen him. Trust me, you will not be sorry—and you will be transported to another dimension.

Personal favorites of the evening: “Not of This Earth”, “Cataclysmic”, “On Peregrine Wings”, and “Surfing With the Alien”



Tickets and exclusive Joe Satriani meet & greet and VIP packages are available now, for details please visit:

“Surfing to Shockwave” Tour Itinerary:

February 25                 Paramount Theatre                         Seattle, WA

February 26                 Historic Elsinore Theatre              Salem, OR

February 27                 Grand Sierra Theatre                      Reno, NV

February 28                 Fox Theater                                       Oakland, CA

March 1                         Balboa Theatre                                San Diego, CA

March 2                        Fox Tucson Theatre                       Tuscon, AZ *

March 3                        Fox Performing Arts Center        Riverside, CA

March 4                       Pearl Concert Theater @ Palms Casino  Las Vegas, NV

March 5                       Talking Stick Resort Ballroom        Scottsdale, AZ

March 7                       Historic Paramount Theatre         Denver, CO

March 8                       Abraham Chavez Theatre            El Paso, TX

March 9                      The Majestic Theatre                    Dallas, TX

March 10                    House of Blues                                Houston, TX

March 11                     Laurie Auditorium                       San Antonio, TX

March 12                     Orpheum Theater                         New Orleans, LA

March 14                      Iron City                                         Birmingham, AL

March 15                      Saenger Theatre                          Pensacola, FL

March 16                      Parker Playhouse                        Ft. Lauderdale, FL

March 17                      Ruth Eckerd Hall                        Clearwater, FL

March 18                     Hard Rock Live                            Orlando, FL

March 19                     Florida Theatre                            Jacksonville, FL

March 21                     Carolina Theatre                          Durham, NC

March 22                    Knight Theater                              Charlotte, NC

March 23                    Symphony Hall                             Atlanta, GA **

March 24                     The National                                 Richmond, VA

March 25                     Sandler Center                             Virginia Beach, VA

March 26                     Orpheum Theatre                       Boston, MA

March 29                     College Street Music Hall           New Haven, CT

March 30                  Capitol Theatre                                Port Chester, NY

March 31                     The Vets                                         Providence, RI

April 1                          Tilles Center                                  Brookville, LI

April 2                       Lincoln Theatre                               Washington, DC

April 4                      Count Basie Theatre                        Red Bank, NJ

April 6                     Keswick Theatre                                 Glenside, PA

April 7                     Hampton Beach Casino                     Hampton Beach, NH *

April 8                    Danforth Music Hall                           Toronto, Ontario

April 9                     UAB Center for the Arts                    Buffalo, NY

April 10                  Hard Rock                                            Cleveland

April 12                  Carnegie Music Hall                           Pittsburgh, PA

April 13                  Fillmore Detroit                                 Detroit, MI

April 14                  Pabst Theatre                                      Milwaukee, WI

April 15                 Chicago Theatre                                  Chicago, IL

April 16                 The Fitzgerald Theatre                       St. Paul, MN

April 17                 Fargo Theatre                                       Fargo, ND *

April 19                Conexus Arts Centre                            Regina, SK *

April 21                Grey Eagle Event Centre                    Calgary, AB

April 22                 River Creek Casino                             Enoch, AB

April 24                Hard Rock Casino Vancouver          Vancouver, BC

* new dates not previously announced



The images may not be reproduced, copied, transmitted or manipulated without the written permission to Rock At Night and the photographer. Use of any image is a violation of the United States and International Copyright laws.

Chyrisse Tabone, Ph.D.
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