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culture: It should have been great but we were left frustrated.

Byline: Simon Rushworth

Yngwie Malmsteen at Newcastle Carling Academy

EARLIER this summer Joe Satriani thrilled a sell-out Newcastle City Hall crowd with a set rich in emotion and oozing understated cool. It was impossible to ignore that show when assessing fellow guitar hero Yngwie Malmsteen's approach, and the Swede suffered as a result.

Technically without peers, his speed across the fret board is quite incredible. Yet where Satch appears to feel the music, Yngwie's faultless playing often feels too cold.

Tim 'Ripper' Owens, the latest vocalist to run the Malmsteen gauntlet, summed it up best when he described his band mate as a robot. As compliments go it was backhanded.

At times this was like standing in front of an instructional DVD and knowing you would never be able to match Yngwie's mastery of the six strings.

There was neither a note out of place - even from the surprisingly impressive Owens - nor a moment when the energy dipped. But a musician who admits to an aversion to new music, shunning anything written in the past 25 years, seems unable to fuse the best moments of his own back catalogue with fresh material worthy of his undoubted talent.

A new studio album, recorded with Owens, may prove that theory wrong later this year. But as a live act Yngwie is a frustrating example of what might have been had one of the greatest guitarists in living memory allowed himself the flexibility to flourish.
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:The Journal (Newcastle, England)
Date:Jul 17, 2008
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