An Evening with Yngwie Malmsteen

Yngwie J. Malmsteen at The Powerstation, Auckland, June 4th, 2015.

He didn't even know ( let alone remember ), but I'll never forget... the first time I heard the shred king. The memory is still quite clear in my mind, tho the dates are a long ago blur, my brother had started to learn the guitar and like all new guitarists in the 1980's he, and thus I were introduced to Steve Vai, Joe Satriani, Eddie Van Halen - and this Swedish guy whose name no one could quite pronounce - Yngwie J. Malmsteen.

Whilst my brothers tastes soon moved on, I was hooked - soaking in album after album wondering if I'd ever get the chance to see the Maestro live - and now, not once but twice - both at Auckland's Powerstation - only this time I got to see the man face to...lense.

It was a cold, wet, almost miserable day in Auckland but that didn't stop 300+ fans from travelling the country and coming out to see the master play, the turnout itself was less than I was expecting with The Powerstations' upper floor remaining closed off for the evening - this however just meant there was more room for everyone to enjoy the performance.

And the performance...  let's start with the setting - a minimalist stage setup consisting of a fairly modest, yet minimal keyboard rig, and a drum kit tucked neatly in between the massive wall of Marshall amps and cabinets - and that's it. A bare, cut down, minimalist stage which suited the equally cut down, and raw performance - whilst there was less pomp and fanfair than the previous performance we were still treated to a choreographed dance of kicks, guitar spins and pick-flicks.

Keeping with the 4 piece lineup for the Spellboard in Tampa album, vocal duties were handled by keyboardist Nick Marino for the most part, with Ralph Ciavolino (bass) introducing Yngwie every few songs - that seemed a bit odd but I was glad to see audience interaction none the less. Personally, the vocals were a bit of a let down for me, especially after hearing Mats Leven sing them earlier on - I was there for the songs as much as I was the solos, and in that regards I was left somewhat unsatisfied - however, hearing songs such as Never Die and Seventh Sign almost made up for it.

Was I disappointed? Not in the slightest...