I have to admit, I hadn't heard much of Joe's music before this. I went to this show because I'm a fan of Sammy Hagar. Well, I am now a fan of Joe Satriani as well. His fans are the NICEST people I have ever met. I struck up a conversation with some die-hard Satriani fans who were waiting in line before the show. They were wonderful! And so was Joe. As he was going into the venue for soundcheck, he stopped a minute and chatted with those of us waiting for the concert. My 22-year-old son is a huge fan of his and I was lucky enough to get Joe's autograph for my son! What a cool, cool person Joe is! And after seeing him live, I don't think there is a greater guitar player out there. He blew everyone away.
Just wanted to say that. Now, here's my review of the best concert I have ever seen:
Chickenfoot has received a lot of bashing on the Internet. These comments are made by critics whose content is based solely on speculation. They're saying that supergroups never last, that Chickenfoot is comprised of washed-up rockers who are merely trying to cinch one last-ditch effort to hold on to their stardom, or need money. And when the term "supergroup" is used, it's become synonymous with the one-album flops from supergroups of the past whose combined efforts could not come close to that of their individual efforts.
Here's where Chickenfoot differs, as only those who have seen them live can attest. Whether they stay together and continue to generate music remains to be seen. But watching them live was a complete shock and privilege. I've attended hundreds of big-name rock concerts and I have never seen anything like it. This band is a combined talent of some of the best in the business. They are dominating, heavy, hard-rocking genius. The chemistry between the performers evidences the fact that they aren't doing this for the money; they're doing it for the music.
Days after their show in San Francisco, I wrote the following:
My body hurts all over; it’s wrung out like a wet rag. My right ear hasn’t quite come around yet either.
Chickenfoot's performance at the Fillmore in San Francisco, CA on May 17, 2009 was the concert of a lifetime.
I knew I was in trouble when the first song, “Avenida Revolution,” a balls-to-the-wall song about the perils of Mexican immigrants, pounded from the speakers like an iron fist slamming down hard on the stage.
I was already overpowered.
Joe Satriani on guitar, Sammy Hagar on vocals, Chad Smith on drums and Michael Anthony on bass came onstage in a burst of sonic boom that felt like the world was splitting open, its internal organs shooting upward to the stratosphere like a volcano OD’ing on testosterone. It bounced off the back walls in some sort of sweet rage/euphoria and rolled like breeding thunder through the audience.
And it never let up.
This was not Hagar fronting a band, Satriani fronting a band, or even Smith or Anthony fronting. Chickenfoot has its own sound. They’re not a “supergroup” who will dissolve after one album. God I hope not. They have too much to offer. Their personalities and talents meld as if they should have been a band a long time ago.
I expected to be wowed by Satch. And I was. Years ago, after having watched Eddie Van Halen perform live, I described his guitar as being his arm—an extension of him. And I was duly impressed.
But Satriani’s guitar was not an appendage. For lack of a better term, and I hate to use this because it’s cliché, but he was one with it. The guitar was Joe and Joe was the guitar. The sounds he created through its body with unparalleled ease were beyond what I’d hoped to see.
Satriani adds a new vision to the music—quenches a thirst for the extraordinary.
The one who really surprised me was Chad Smith. I had previously thought that the drummer’s job, along with that of the bassist, was primarily to hold the rhythm together, to keep everyone on beat. I was sorely mistaken. Chad did not politely keep time; he was not merely background noise, he was a voice demanding to be heard from the first explosive thud. He banged those drums like he was making a political statement of world-altering proportions.
His contribution to Chickenfoot raises the bar many notches.
Sammy’s vocals have taken on greater dimensions in this band—his voice is richer, more soulful and multi-faceted than I've heard from him in the past, and yet it maintains the huskiness and spunk that makes a rock singer great.
That night, Sammy looked amazing. He sounded amazing. His song-writing talents, combined with those of Satriani, have taken each of them to new levels of musicianship and proved mutually beneficial. Because of this, Chickenfoot has an invigorating yet heavy sound.
And Mikey hammered his bass, never missing a chance to make a personal declaration with his distinctive backing vocals, the ones that helped make Van Halen famous.
Not one of them overpowered the others, and each gave 200 percent. They were dripping with sweat before the first song ended.
From the moment they took the stage, Chickenfoot commanded the night with the expertise of professionals who had risen above that title to the point where their art flowed naturally; it was not contrived. They had earned the right to enjoy themselves while allowing us a peek into their secret passions.
The music dumped into me with such intensity and felt so damn wonderful, it was almost agonizing. There’s a fine line between pain and pleasure anyway, especially in rock ‘n’ roll.
When they played “Learning to Fall,” my body felt like it was being wrenched by some out-of-control dictator. And I couldn’t stop the tears. The music was phenomenal; Sam's vocals and the harmonies impeccable. It sounded like there was an entire symphony surrounding me.
It is both glorious and infuriating to be manipulated by an outside source like that.
Another highlight was Chickenfoot’s rendition of Deep Purple’s “Highway Star.” It transported me back to my teen years when life was filled with the joy of listening to captivating rock music with good friends. “Machinehead” was one of the first albums I’d ever purchased.
Sammy did a fantastic job singing Ian Gillan’s incomparable lead vocals.
Chickenfoot’s entire performance tore me up bad. And yet, I felt like I was the contender who’d won the match. I knew at the time that I was going to be hurting afterward; I just didn’t care. It was so worth it.
If you are presented the opportunity, you owe it to yourself to see Chickenfoot.
You’ll only regret it if you don’t. Chickenfoot has revived rock 'n' roll!