A musician’s dream happened this past Saturday night in the newly minted Kodak Theater in Rochester, NY. Steve Vai, Yngwie Malmsteen, Zakk Wylde, Nuno Bettencourt and Tosin Abasi gave a guitar clinic for all who were in attendance. There was so much talent in one place was the Auditorium going to be able to keep the roof from blowing off? Each of them came out at 8pm sharp and tore into the song “Hocus, Pocus” by Focus. All enjoyed playing off each other and gave everyone a taste of what was to come.
This show started with Animal as Leaders guitarist Tosin Aabis give a technical clinic on his 8th string guitar. He was joined by Extreme’s Nuno Bettencourt for the last song of Abasi’s set “Physical Education.” Abasi was on stage for around 35 minutes. In fact, each artist to follow would get about the same amount of time on stage.
Bettencourt was the most vocal of the 5 guitarists. He sang “Get the Funk Out” as this was the only vocal to be used all night. He also cracked jokes after this saying “he better get to it as they get paid by the note and doesn’t want Malmsteen to get all the money.” He also sat on a chair and played acoustic for “Midnight Express.” Zakk Wydle joined Bettencourt for the Citizen Cope cover “Sideways.” Bettencourt came off very endearing and payed a strong set.
Wylde’s set was just as his name depicts. You never knew where he was going or what he was going to do. He went into one side of the crowd and played a half of a song. He played another part of another song on the opposite side of Auditorium. Then for the Gary Moore classic “Still Got the Blues (For You),” Wylde went up on top and played against the railing of the balcony. It was the most entertaining set of the night by far.
Guitar extraordinaire Steve Vai was next up and had a mix of proficiency and showmanship. Vai is considered one of the greatest guitars players ever and his set didn’t disappoint. Even though he battled some technical issues (he was supposed to come out in the crowd at one point and play and his guitar wouldn’t work). This happened again during “Bohemian Rhapsody as he had to switch guitars during the midst of the song. To me, this shows that he’s actually human. You never see Vai have any type of difficulty. He still was solid otherwise.
The maestro Yngwie Malmsteen was the final guitarist to share his talents. His set consisted of dark red lights and lots of flash. Malmsteen would play and kick picks into the audience. He also played “Echo Etude” on an acoustic guitar. He invited Steve Vai back out and both played “Black Star.” Each held a note and enjoyed playing that note for quite along time and both got a strong round of applause after the song.
Malmsteen exited for the next song as each guitarist came out to tackle the Edgar Winter track “Frankenstein.” Each played a part and then the next guitarist took the lead. What was most impressive as they all played Queen classic “Bohemian Rhapsody” including the operatic section. It sounded like something you never heard before. Outside of Wylde’s playing in the crowd, this was the highlight of the show for me. They all closed the set with Deep Purple’s “Burn.”
Again, this show was a musician’s dream. To get that talent on stage at one time is no small feat. To get them all playing in unison is another. They all worked together to bring one hell of a show to everyone who attended.
Hocus Pocus (Focus cover – Bettencourt, Wylde, Vai, Malmsteen and Abasi on stage)
Tempting Time (Animals as Leaders song – Abasi on stage)
The Woven Web (Animals as Leaders song – Abasi on stage)
Cafo (Animals as Leaders song – Abasi on stage)
Physical Education (Animals as Leaders song – Abasi and Bettencourt on stage)
Get the Funk Out (Extreme song – Bettencourt on stage)
Midnight Express (Extreme song – Bettencourt on stage)
Extreme Medley (Bettencourt on stage)
Sideways (Citizen Cope cover – Bettencourt and Wylde on stage)
Into the Void (Black Sabbath cover – Wylde on stage)
War Pigs (Black Sabbath cover – Wylde on stage)
Still Got the Blues (For You) (Gary Moore cover – Wylde on stage)
There’s a Fire in the House (Vai on stage)
The Animal (Vai on stage)
For the Love of God (Vai on stage)
Big E./Top Down, Foot Down/No Rest for the Wicked/ Big E (Malmsteen on stage)
Valhalla/ Baroque & Roll/Masquerade (Malmsteen on stage)
Overture 1622/Arpeggios from Hell (Malmsteen on stage)
Badiniere Double B/Paganini’s 4th/Adagio (Malmsteen on stage)
Far Beyond the Sun (Malmsteen on stage)
Trilogy Suite 5/Fugue/Echo Etude (acoustic) (Malmsteen on stage)
Black Star (Malmsteen and Vai on stage)
Frankenstein (Edgar Winter Group cover – Bettencourt, Wylde, Vai, and Abasi on stage)
Bohemian Rhapsody (Queen cover – Bettencourt, Wylde, Vai, Malmsteen and Abasi on stage)
Burn (Deep Purple cover – Bettencourt, Wylde, Vai, Malmsteen and Abasi on stage)
We would like to thank Steve Karas from SHK Publicity for the credentials to review the show.