Neoclassical rock guitar hero tears apart at UC Theater – CBS San Francisco
By Dave Pehling
BERKELEY (CBS SF) – One of the most influential rock guitarists since Eddie Van Halen, neo-classical rock hero Yngwie Malmsteen returns to the Bay Area for this show at the UC Theater on Saturday night.
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Born in Stockholm, Sweden, into a family of musicians, Lars Johan Yngve LannerbÃ¤ck showed little interest in playing an instrument until he saw Jimi Hendrix playing on television at the age of seven. . He immersed himself in the guitar and played in his first group at the age of 10. Originally inspired by Hendrix rock pyrotechnics, the young musician who changed his name to Yngwie J. Malmsteen before reaching his teens would be fascinated by both rock guitar heroes like Richie Blackmore and Uli Roth of the Scorpions and classical figures like Bach, Vivaldi and in particular the Italian 19th century violin virtuoso Niccoli Paganini.
At the age of 18, the incendiary play heard on Malmsteen’s demos earned him a trip to Los Angeles funded by record producer and label owner Mike Varney. The guitarist would briefly become a member of lead singer Ron Keel Steeler’s metal band (long enough to play on their eponymous single album released in 1983) before joining former lead singer of Blackmore’s Rainbow / Michael Schenker band Graham Bonnet in his band Alcatrazz.
Although this partnership would also last only the time of producing two discs (No parole for rock and roll, also published in 1983, the concert document Live phrase the following year), those efforts were enough to make Malmsteen a force to be reckoned with on the guitar. He signed a solo contract with Polydor and recorded his own debut Rising force with support from Jethro Tull drummer Barriemore Barlow and Swedish keyboard phenomenon Jens Johansson and appearances from singer Jeff Scott Soto. Instrumental tracks like “Black Star” and “Icarus’ Dream Suite Op. 4” set a new bar for rock guitar virtuosity with the blinding speed and classic flourishes of Malmsteen.
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With his band now presented under the name Yngwie J. Malmsteen’s Rising Force, the guitarist quickly followed up with his second effort. Go out, which featured more vocal tracks with lyrics focused on fantasy and Vikings. But it was Yngwie’s breathtaking instrumental prowess that launched a true cottage industry of copious shredders with a penchant for neo-classical metal. Malmsteen forged a reputation as an unstable conductor, quickly touring the band members as the ’80s progressed. Still, he pulled off his biggest hit on the charts after bringing another former Blackmore’s Rainbow singer into the bosom of singer Joe Lynn Turner.
This combination produced Odyssey in 1988, a collection more geared towards broadcast rock radio with the inclusion of the single “Heaven Tonight” (which proved to be a hit on MTV and the radio waves). While this marked Malmsteen’s biggest commercial success, he maintained a loyal following of fans over the decades that followed with a steady production of recordings, some embracing his classic leanings. He has recorded and performed live with a full orchestra, notably on Concerto Suite For Electric Guitar And Orchestra, which was released as a DVD featuring the guitarist in concert with the New Japan Philharmonic.
For this concert at UC Theater in Berkeley, Malmsteen brings his current band to perform classic tunes and songs from his most recent album, World on fire posted on its own Rising Force imprint. The show’s opening will be hosted by veteran instrumental power trio from Bay Area Points North, who have supported a range of hard rock acts including UFO, King’s X and Y&T, as well as the late British guitarist Allan. Holdsworth and jazz fusion legend Al Di Meola. .
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Saturday, May 27, 8 p.m. $ 36- $ 42