Yngwie J. Malmsteen, San Diego Concert Review

I have seen a lot of musical acts in my day. My first concert was Ozzy with guitarist Randy Rhoads just two months before his fatal plane crash. I’ve seen Eddie Van Halen, Michael Schenker, Jimmy Page legendary rock/metal axe-men. I’ve seen classical greats John Williams and the Romeros. I’ve been to the Chicago and Los Angeles  Symphonies. I’ve seen local and less-known musicians come through town and absolutely blow everyone away. I’ve seen some of the biggest acts in the world; Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd, Black Sabbath, Aerosmith…, as well as, some of the most incredible street musicians in America’s big cities…the people you miss your train simply to hear a few more songs. I’ve been to shows in rock, metal, Jazz, classical, world music, pop,…on and on! But, I never saw/heard anything like I did Tuesday night at San Diego’s House of Blues.

Rising ForceYngwie J. Malmsteen put on a clinic!

Since his debut album, “Rising Force,” in 1984, I have been a fan. His blistering fast runs and arpeggios combining Heavy Metal with musical phrasing of the Baroque and Romantic periods are absolutely stunning. ‘The man obviously took his guitar lessons seriously,’ as one of my friends put it!

The knocks against Yngwie for the past thirty years are as earned as his virtuosity.

He is known for being a bit of a Diva and arrogant. ‘Bit’ might be an understatement. His music, although it has stood the test of time for thirty years, is thought to be lacking in general appeal to those outside of the music/guitar aficionado. There are not a lot of hits, hooks and catchy tunes in Yngwie’s output. His sound and style have not changed much over the years.

The Diva tag comes from a somewhat pompous persona. The J. in his name, as if he is going to be confused with another Yngwie Malmsteen. The use of words in his titles like opus. Oh yeah and he is 50 years old and still years leather pants, no shirt and gaudy jewelry…so the argument is made.

Yngwie hasn’t changed much over the years…which can be viewed as both a lacking and admirable trait. Vivaldi the Italian composer wrote over 500 concertos. Since they were all similar in style it is often jokingly asked , ‘Did Vivaldi compose 500 concertos or one concerto 500 times?’ This question might be applied to Yngwie’s output over his career, as well….but no denying the man’s sheer capability to play the guitar like no other.

Heading to last Tuesdays concert I was stoked to see Yngwie, but, more as seeing a relic. He could be crossed off my list of musicians I want to see but haven’t. I thought it would be a little boring. Watching Yngwie shred all over the place while his band sheepishly backs him up.

May 14, San Diego Setlist

I could not have been more wrong! Yngwie was incredible. His showmanship was incredible, his skills were incredible and his band was incredible!

The ability to play a concert is hard enough for anyone…but to put on a show of that caliber and not lose your musical chops is awe-inspiring.

We’ve all seen musicians use gimmicks live. Playing with their teeth, spinning and throwing their instruments, creatively creating feedback while putting on a ‘rock show.’ Yngwie does all of these, but, it doesn’t seem gimmicky. He legitimately has put time into incorporating all these theatrics into his ‘musical’ performance.

His speed and precision have not declined at all in the years since his 1984 debut. Equally astounding is his use of effects. All guitarists use them, like the whammy bar, they often become a crutch to make any level musician sound rocking cool. Yngwie obviously has invested time working out his electronics as part of his guitar acumen.

Most impressive during the show, was his ability, while playing a blistering arpeggio riff to accompany himself with bass pedals using his feet. Not just one note to give a boost underneath but a full contrapuntal  bass line with his feet while seamlessly arpeggiating over the top.

band side YNGWIE SIDEThe band, in typical Yngwie fashion, are not easy to find out much info about. However, these guys played great. Of course to play with Yngwie…who the band referred to as ‘the Maestro,’ throughout the night, you’ve got to  have chops. You have to play fast, but, they put on a rock show, as well. They laid down a rock groove that Yngwie could soar over with his guitar acrobatics while keeping the crowd rocking, not letting it feel like a man and…. oh yeah a band(even though Yngwie does take about 3/4 of the stage for himself)…kudos to those guys!!

Bottom line…if you haven’t seen Yngwie yet but have thought about it….GO!

Better Than Coffee, Yngwie Malmsteen, Arpeggio Study

YngwieTodays, ‘Better Than Coffee,’ post features Yngwie Malmsteen’s arpeggio study dubbed, “Arpeggios From Hell.” Named both because of their difficulty and his penchant for heavy metal titles….

Yngwie performed in San Diego May 14 at House of Blues…an absolutely amazing show that I will write about shortly…keep any eye out for that.

YNGWIE

YNGWIE, not just a great Scrabble word, one of the most talented rock/metal guitarists.

Thought I would post this in honor of the guitarists upcoming tour bringing him to the House of Blues in San Diego on May 14.

This clip has everything a self-respecting guitar geek would want. A blistering lead guitarist, playing with his teeth, throwing his guitar and all the while backed by a full symphonic orchestra.

If you’ve never heard Yngwie play watch/listen to the clip. He is a very classic influenced guitarist. Actually more Baroque or Romantic period traits, but, it’s all ‘classical’ music to most folks.

Enjoy!

Run Playlist 1/30/2014

Anyone who works out with their headphones knows how awesome it is when you get a big lift from your favorite song. Or hearing a cool tune you would have never picked shuffle through on your picturesque jog… With 1000s of songs on my iPod I almost always shuffle.

I’ve always thought it would be cool, interesting, perhaps even motivating to write about each playlist and the music’s effect on myself and the workout. Then I thought that might be kind of boring. Then I thought, “Yeah,” I was right…on both counts. ;)

Really just another chance to talk about music!

January 30, 2014

3 Mile Run

..And then there’s days when it is just you against yourself and no music is going to take you to the next level. That was this day’s run.

“Seasons of Madness,” -Catharsis

“Gimme Your Love,” -Michael Schenker

“Convoy,” -C. W. McCall

“Already Gone,” -Eagles

“Pieces De Clavecin Book 2, Les Moissonneurs,” F. Couperin, perf. John Williams

“The Struggle Within,” -Metallica

“Serpens Cauda,” -Tony MacAlpine

“Aftershock,” -Van Halen

“Brother John,” -Blues Traveler

“See You in Hell,” Yngwie J. Malmsteen

“Heroes End,” -Judas Priest

“Octopus’s Garden,” -Beatles

“I Will Remember,” – Queensryche

There was some good music on this playlist, but, as mentioned, there are days when the struggle is truly within…to steal the Metallica title. Body just wasn’t responding, maybe it had to do with the leg weights I lifted the day before.

To the music…

If you never heard Catharsis you aren’t alone. They were a local San Diego band that just missed it…and thats too bad cause they were really good, progressive and heavy and just getting started. Anyway you might know the guitarist, Scott Fox. He is a good friend and my musical partner in the Slayen & Fox guitar duo. If you ever get a chance look up Catharsis(make sure it was the SD band) and give them a listen.

Yes, “Convoy,” is the silly novelty song from the 1970’s. You know during the CB radio days? Smokey & The Bandit? Guess I am dating myself.

Highlight of this playlist was Tony MacAlpine. Known somewhat as an Yngwie clone from the 80’s Tony has been an afterthought in my listing all these years since. Recently I had the chance to see him play on “that Metal Show.” It definitely renewed my interest enough to head over to the fruit stand and download a couple tunes of his. “Serpens Cauda,” being the song that captured my ear the most.

Lowlights, “Octopus’s Garden,” just not a running song.  Also, Yngwie’s, “See you in Hell.” Definitely not one his better efforts. The guitar licks are OK its just a little too cheesy.

Check out previous Run Playlist Posts.

Run Playlist 1/26/14

Anyone who works out with their headphones knows how awesome it is when you get a big lift from your favorite song. Or hearing a cool tune you would have never picked shuffle through on your picturesque jog… With 1000s of songs on my iPod I almost always shuffle.

I’ve always thought it would be cool, interesting, perhaps even motivating to write about each playlist and the music’s effect on myself and the workout. Then I thought that might be kind of boring. Then I thought, “Yeah,” I was right…on both counts. ;)

Really just another chance to talk about music!

January 26, 2014

5 Mile Run

“China Girl,” David Bowie

“I’ll Be Waiting,” -Adele

“Angel of Avalon,” -Michael Schenker

“Harp Partita, BWV 1006A Preludium,” -JS Bach, perf.  Julian Bream

“Somebody Stole My Guitar,” -Deep Purple

“Heathens From the North,” -Yngwie J. Malmsteen

“Night of the Long Knives,” -AC/DC

“Early Morning Rain,”  Gordon Lightfoot

“Harp Partita, BWV 1006A Gavotte En Rondeau,” -JS Bach, perf.  Julian Bream

“Say What You Will,” -Fastway

“Carnies,” -Rush

“Prelude,” – Judas Priest

“Espiritu,” Pace De Lucia,  John McLaughlin, Al Di Meola

“Humans Being,” -Van Halen

“Still in Love,” -Boston

The highlight of this run playlist without doubt was, “Humans Being,” by Van Halen. It came on right at the end of the 5 miles and I still had energy to burn and this song fanned the flames! It is one of the bands heavier songs, certainly, from the Hagar era and one of Eddie’s great solos.

The tune was written for the soundtrack from the movie, “Twister.” In the solo I’ve read, Eddie wanted to emulate a ‘twister’. He uses an extended ascending line coupled with a driving rhythm to bring it home. It is also one of the first truly soulful solos Eddie put to tape, before the ‘tornado’ the calm before the storm. Adding another element to his already legendary guitar style.

The two Bach guitar works also provide a great soundscape for running. Maybe too mellow for most during a workout,  but, perfect for me. I’ve worked on these pieces and understand the Herculean task and effort it takes to perfect them. Much like the efforts of a long distance runner…very motivating! If you’re wondering why the ‘harp’ pieces are performed by a guitarist…the guitar didn’t become a legit instrument until the 19th century. So guitarist have had to transcribe the great works of Bach and others…essentially stealing them for the guitar from harp, lute, cello harpsichord, etc.

Other highlights; John Lord’s keyboards on the DP tune, AC/DC from “For Those About to Rock”(an underrated album in my opinion,) “Carnies,” from the latest Rush release , Fastway and “Espiritu,” from the guitar trio.

Gordon Lightfoot…I have to say I grew up not knowing much about his music. It is mellow and would have punched a hole in my Heavy Metal adolescent teenage musical psyche(is that really even English?) Have to say though Lightfoot has “IT”. Whatever, “IT,” is in music…the guy has it. AMAZING musicianship, its been cool to familiarize myself with his music recently. Also proud to say listening has not damaged my aforementioned psyche.

Check out previous Run Playlist Posts.

Happy 4th of July, 2013

Happy 4th of July everyone! Hope you have a fun and safe holiday while celebrating the  anniversary of our Nation’s Independence!

Just wanted to post two quick versions of the Star Spangled Banner guitar style.

I recently saw Yngwie Malmsteen in San Diego and he performed a tribute to the military with a rendition of the National Anthem( bottom video)

The top video is Yngwie performing the SSB at a Miami Marlins baseball game. I could lament how I think the Anthem should be played traditionally when played for events but c’mon lets face it no one really watches Marlins baseball anyway. Musically he does a remarkable job incorporating all his guitar fireworks into the structure of the song.

Enjoy your freedoms like they mean something to you! Happy 4th!

Mike’s Musical Influences!

Wow! Thought it would be fun to list every musician who has influenced me over the years. I am not even sure this page is even logical since there are SO many, but, I will try! This post will take me all the way back to my little baby self when I started to love music. There are some of my local San Diego guitar and San Diego State University music teachers to sports stars to the big guns to family members who have had an influence on my music in one way or another. Some may have been one hit wonders like Manfred Mann’s Earth Band to greats like Eddie Van Halen. Some of the acts below I dont even really like…but they had influence in some way.

Here is just a random start…

AC/DC, Accept, AEROSMITH, Isaac Albeniz, Alice In Chains, Louis Armstrong,  JOHAN SEBASTIAN BACH, Agustin Barrios-Mangore, The Beach Boys, THE BEATLES, Ludwig Van Beethoven,  The BeeGees, FRED BENEDETTI, Chuck Berry, Beyonce, BLACK SABBATH, BONO, Doug Booth, BOSTON, Johannes Brahms, Junior Brown, Dave Brubeck, DOUG BRUCK, Johnny Cash, Ray Charles, Federic Chopin, Eric Clapton, Phil Collins, Pablo Cruise, Edgar Cruz, my DAD, Charlie Daniels, my DAUGHTER, Miles Davis, PACO DE LUCIA, Deep Purple, Def Leppard, Neil Diamond, Al Di Meola, Dio, JIM DOHNER, The Doors, Dream Theater, Carl Douglas, Duran Duran, Brent Dutton, The Eagles, Earth Wind & Fire, The Edge, Danny Elfman, E.L.O, Elvis, Kevin Eubanks, Fight, Wayne Findlay, Foreigner, Peter Frampton, Astrud Gilberto, Joao Gilberto, DAVID GILMOUR, Gipsy Kings, Giuffria, Goo Goo Dolls, Macy Gray, Vince Guaraldi, TONY GWYNN, Sammy Hagar, Rob Halford, Stu Hamm, TOM HANKS, GEORGE HARRISON, Heart, MICHAEL HEDGES, RICK HELZER, Jimi Hendrix, Gary Hoey, Gustav Holst, Whitney Houston, Intervals, TONY IOMMI, IRON MAIDEN, CHARLES IVES, MICHAEL JACKSON, KEITH JARRETT, ANTONIO CARLOS JOBIM, Billy Joel, ELTON JOHN, Eric Johnson,  Howard Jones, JUDAS PRIEST, K. C. & The Sunshine Band, Alicia Keys, B.B. King, Kool & The Gang, Mark Knopfler, William Kraft, LED ZEPPELIN, Geddy Lee, John Lennon, Franz Liszt, Living Colour, Mad Season, GUSTAV MAHLER, Yngwie Malmsteen, Manfred Mann’s Earth Band, Chuck Mangione, George Martin, Paul McCartney, Megadeth, Men at Work, METALLICA, Pat Metheny, ROGER MILLER, STEVE MILLER, Molly Hatchet, my MOM, WES MONTGOMERY, Gary Moore, Steve Morse, James Morton, WOLFGANG AMADEUS MOZART, The Muppets, MIKE MYERS, WILLIE NELSON, Aldo Nova, The Outlaws, OZZY, JIMMY PAGE, Partridge Family, JOE PASS, Pearl Jam, NEIL PEART, Joe Perry, Pink Floyd, Tom Petty, The Police, Mike Post, The Pretenders, Queen, Queensryche, Trevor Rabin, Ram Jam, Ratt, Maurice Ravel, RANDY RHOADS, Sonny Rollins, RUSH, Carlos Santana, JOE SATRIANI, MICHAEL SCHENKER, Peter Schilling, SCORPIONS, Sesame Street, Brian Setzer, Jean Sibelius, Horace Silver, Alan Silvestri, Carly Simon, Jim Soldi, Starland Vocal Band, Thomas Stauffer, Steve Stevens, Igor Stravinsky, Stray Cats, Strunz & Farah, Styx, The Sugarhill Gang, Supertramp, Sweet, John Sykes, George Thorogood, Triumph, U2, STEVE VAI, VAN HALEN, EDDIE VAN HALEN, Adrian Vandenberg, Stevie Ray Vaughan, The Ventures, Antonio Vivaldi, DAVID WARD-STEINMANN, Joe Walsh, Ann & Nancy Wilson, White Lion, The Who, my WIFE, JOHN WILLIAMS-guitarist, ROBIN WILLIAMS, Edgar Winter, Stevie Wonder, ANGUS YOUNG, Zebra, ZZ Top