In one word–awesome. I’d seen Joe Satriani play in the US before and he never did anything like what he did in Bangalore. Joe said during the show, You guys are crazy. And we were. Read on, you’ll understand why!
I reached Palace Grounds at around 2.15 pm in the afternoon. Scheduled gate opening time: 5.15 pm. I walked about half a kilometere to find that there were no gates. The sound check was going on and Jeff Campitelli (the drummer) was on stage checking his drum kit, and taking a LOT of pictures. Jeff came down to the ground and every fan who was out there got to meet him. He was really down to earth and signed autographs, posed for pictures, did everything a fan could ask for. Jeff, you rock!
We then waited in the only shaded place in the ground, by the sound booth. I met a couple of more fans, one of whom had waited there from 10.30 am, another who came in from Chennai but was there before me. And I thought I was a crazy fan going there three hours early.
When Satch came on stage with his floppy hat, we shouted and he waved to us. He went to the left-side of the stage, picked up a guitar and started warming up. Even in his warm up exercises, his fingers were moving like a locomotive (in slightly slowed motion) and it was fluid.
Joe plugged in and then the sound check began. We heard him play one song before the event organisers then decided that they wanted to show us who was boss, so we were escorted out. I don’t think Joe cared that we were there but the event organisers (Opium Events) had to show their power. They’d hear it from us later, when we booed them.
So, we waited, just outside the “gates” (there weren’t any) and saw Joe do his sound check. We could hear him clearly and see him but the stage was about a 100 metres away. Anyway, the sun was beating down and it was hot and there was no water available. The local help decided that they needed gates, so while we were standing, they put up temporary “gates”. Every fan out there was commenting about how DNA Networks would have done a much more professional job. Thinking about it now though, I’m happy that Opium was a little unprofessional. We got to meet Jeff, got to see Joe. Maybe we like unprofessional huh?
Then again, maybe not. We were supposed to be let in at 5.15 p.m., but that was delayed for about half an hour. Before that, we had to fight with the event management guys (Global Inc) who told us that they wanted our tickets. Each ticket has two parts, the part that the organisers keep and the part that they give the fans. Now, Opium and their partners (cronies) had given whole booklets of tickets to companies, so they didn’t have the counterfoils to produce (for tax purposes), so they wanted our entire tickets. Of course, this got the fans mad. I’ve been to a number of concerts, I’ve never given away my ticket. Any fan knows that a concert is a souvenir that you keep. We argued, we shouted, we finally got the guy to agree to tear only 20% of the ticket. My ticket now says, E Satriani. I’m still mad about that.
I’d met three other Satriani fans who were at the Knopfler concert, so all of us were together, at the front row. We were in the hot sun, no water, and we had to drink Pepsi (not exactly the best substitute) to beat the thirst.
Add to that the fact that we had to listen to a heavy metal band (Brahma) open for Joe, it was sheer torture. I’ve not yet heard an Indian metal band that doesn’t sound like Metallica and these guys didn’t disappoint me. I must admit that we weren’t too well-behaved at this point because we were mad at Opium Events and the band had connections with Opium.
When I think about now though, the “pain” was all worth it, but Opium could’ve made it better for us fans. There was a guy from Opium,
Shaiz Zeus, who gave us some water, and a sip or two of Red Bull, juice; he was a life-saver. Note to organisers of rock concerts — Provide WATER.
Anyway Joe Satriani made an entrance at about 7.15 pm or so and man did he rock. As soon as Joe came in, the crowd went nuts. When he started playing, we all chanted the tune of the song. It was crazy. The crowd was going, Oh, oh, oh-oh,…. Who needs lyrics?
The energy of the crowd was amazing and it was matched by Joe. He was jumping, he moved around the stage, and he looked liked he was having a blast. I’ve not seen Joe moving around so much (he didn’t when I saw him in Columbus, Ohio) and playing to the crowd, and I think Bangalore’s got to get some credit for that.
Every fan that I spoke to was there because they loved his music and I think almost all of them played the guitar. There was this girl near me who split my ear-drum shrieking every time Joe played a hot riff, she was a guitar player to. So was the girl standing next to me. (No, I was there alone!) There’s a reason bands come to Bangalore–the crowds are knowledgeable, the fans *know* their music, and the energy we give off is amazing.
For me, the fact that I could see Joe up close, see his fingers move (effortlessly), hear the blindingly fast riffs, see him do all sorts of things with a guitar, it was well worth the price and some more. As the Mastercard ad goes, Priceless.
I loved all the stuff Joe played (for almost three hours) but I was really thrilled when he played Always with me, always with you, and Going Down. He played stuff from almost all his albums and ended with Flying in A Blue Dream, a perfect end to a perfect concert.
It was a dream come true to see Joe Satriani live in India and I’m glad that he made it. He said that he’d come back (there were chants of G3 during and after the show). I have a feeling, based on what I saw, that he will come back. I, for one, will be there when he comes next.
PS: This is an edited version of the review that I’d posted on the Satriani website. Yeah, I realise it’s long.
—–Updated on May 25, 3.25 p.m.—–
I got an email from the guy who gave us water. Turns out his name was Zeus and not Shaiz as I’d written. Apologies. He mentioned that there was water available at the concert. (I didn’t find any when I’d asked around.) He also clarified that the problem with the tickets wasn’t caused by Opium Events. I thought I’d give you his side of the story as well.