Live Review: Yngwie Malmsteen

15 June 2015 | 10:11 am | Kathy Pollock

"Some clad in T-shirts saying ‘Yngwie who?’ on the front. The backs answer the question — ‘Yngwie f*cking Malmsteen, that’s who.'"

The crowd is small tonight, perhaps due to ticket prices, rainy weather or the gig being held on a weeknight.

Whatever the reason, it’s definitely a case of ‘their loss.’ Malmsteen enters the stage in a cloud of smoke, clad in tight leather pants and an open black satin shirt. His trademark long hair flies around his face as he wails on guitar from the very first instant. Each song either features a long solo or basically is a long solo. He is lightning fast, playing neo-classical electric guitar like no other. Lead singer and keyboardist Nick Marino’s Bruce Dickinson-ish vocals hit all the right notes but he dutifully takes side stage to allow ‘the Maestro’ the spotlight. Malmsteen’s bassist engages the crowd with occasional banter but also knows his place, and the drummer is completely hidden at the back by smoke and dim lighting.

It’s all about Malmsteen. He poses and kicks the air for the benefit of the sea of camera phones, and continually throws picks into the crowd. The man appears to be made of picks, shedding them from his body and tossing them, lightning fast, into the adoring crowd. Almost simultaneously, he tosses his guitar around his body and plays it from behind. On a couple of occasions, he even plays it with his teeth. He dutifully plays crowd-favourites The Seventh Sign and Freedom Isn’t Free, as well as a blues number. He doesn’t neglect fans of his more stripped-back work, playing two classical guitar pieces. “I can’t fucking hear anything,” he complains during one of these numbers. The sound is then turned up even louder to allow the complex chords their full impact. “There are only two things on earth you can see from space,” the bassist informs us. “The Great Wall of China and the Great Wall of Malmsteen.” It’s barely an exaggeration. There are about ten speakers and 20 amps powering the show. Towards the end of the set, he rips each string off his guitar, on his hands and knees, in a din of feedback. He’s nothing if not a theatrical showman. The rest of the band are allowed their moment to shine at the end of the set, as the drummer plays a long solo, and then collectively they all take a bow. The audience is not left disappointed, waving their arms in the air, some clad in T-shirts saying ‘Yngwie who?’ on the front. The backs answer the question — ‘Yngwie f*cking Malmsteen, that’s who.’