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Progressive Rock Concert Reviews

Yngwie Malmsteen

Live in St Charles, Illinois, May 2013

Review by Greg Olma

I have not seen Yngwie J Malmsteen in concert for over a decade and each time I see him, I am reminded of the great talent he possesses.  He is one of those guys who people either love or hate.  There really is no middle ground when it comes to his fan base.  I was surprised to see many women in the crowd because his music has been very male-centric from the start.  He is a guitarist’s guitarist but I guess the gender gap is closing in as more women front metal bands.  Even though Malmsteen played the night before in Chicago, this suburban show the next day was quite full of adoring fans.

If you didn’t know that Malmsteen is the focus, then the design of the set would give you a clue.  Almost 75% of the stage was a wall of Marshall Amplifiers with the drums, keyboards, and bass relegated to the other 25% of the stage.  It was a bit comical but at the end of the day, you were there to see him, and his band were merely sidemen.  That’s not to say that they weren’t gifted musicians in their own right but most people could not be bothered by the rest of the band.  That being said, the bassist and keyboard player handled the vocals leaving Malmsteen the ability to take center stage most of the evening.   There was no shortage of him “throwing shapes” and throwing his guitar around.  Credit must be given to him because he rarely misses a note and makes it look so easy.

Greg Olma
Greg Olma

Malmsteen took the stage with an old standard “Rising Force” but also made sure that people knew he had new product out by playing the title track and “From A Thousand Cuts” off the new CD Spellbound.  The band performed a set list that hit on many eras of his solo career and even squeezed in “Gates of Babylon” off his covers album Inspiration.  You may remember that tune from the Rainbow Long Live Rock & Roll album.  To end the show, Malmsteen and company played “Heaven Tonight” which, even though I like the tune, was out of place with the rest of the neo-classical material.  It is a pop metal tune of the highest order but didn’t quite fit with the other tunes in the set list.  Aside from that really minor complaint, the show was what you would expect from Malmsteen.  Like him or not, you can’t deny his talent and the fact that he inspired a whole generation of people to pick up the guitar.

Greg Olma
Greg Olma
This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2013  Volume 3 at
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