Joe Satriani: The Shape of Things To Come (Live 1988)
A bootleg live recording from 1988 has me remembering when Joe Satriani meant a thing or two to me...
The Shape of Things To Come (Live 1988)
96 Rock (Bootleg)
In 1988, Joe Satriani was flying high – two albums to his name, and Eddie Van Halen not flying quite as high as he had been, his band dipping between albums, and fans turning off to the new singer. Steve Vai was still a hired gun, hadn’t quite stepped out as student-surpassing-master.
In 1988, I was quite the Joe Satriani fan. My worship of guitar heroes like Jeff Beck, Clapton and Hendrix was spilling over into more contemporary players – and I loved Stevie Ray Vaughan. The cover image to Surfing With The Alien was enough to sell me. And I lapped up anything and everything Satriani would go on to make across the next decade.
Then we parted ways. But I still listen, now and then, to the first three records – and sometimes to the fourth and fifth as well. And I still think Joe’s got it in him to make something monumental once again. But no, usually not.
So in recent years I’ve been finding these Radio Broadcasts and bootlegs and loving them; because I never got to see Satch and his band back in the day, I saw him in the 2010s – and it was too loud and rather unimpressive.
But there’s something right here. In 1988. And The Shape Of Things To Come (Live 1988) is entirely my jam.
The set opens with Ice 9, which was always my favourite from Surfing, its crunching riff telling me there was real business behind the flash. But what I love about listening to this concert is that the bedded-in material from Not of This Earth really shines. Joe’s debut has a charm to me, still, but its production makes it a struggly week listen. Here, Memories absolutely dazzles. As does Rubina, the ballad for his wife. Jonathan Mover’s drum playing was always lithe and inventive without ever being too flashy, too showcase-y. and on Lords of Karma Satch really gets to wail.
But the real highlights are from Surfing of course, the album he was touring, the album that really made his name.
And the 10-minute Echoes is the gig centrepiece. Joe is in fine shredding form here and the band builds nicely behind him in support. It might sound silly in 2023, unless you were listening in 1988 or in the 1990s at least, but there’s a real visceral thrill to some of this shred. There’s also nostalgia, of course. And that carries us the rest of the way.
Always With Me, Satch Boogie, The Crush of Love and Surfing’s title track build this concert to its deserved frenzy.
It's fleeting for me, revisiting this stuff, but I’d rather hear this than a shredder from the 80s trying to remain relevant in the 2020s. Joe’s almost living proof it can’t be done. Here’s the live proof that he had something for a time.
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