Generation Axe Live Show Review

Five guitar greats on one stage

GENERATION AXE ft. Steve Vai, Zakk Wylde, Yngwie Malmsteen, Nuno Bettencourt, and Tosin Abasi

Royal Oak, MI - May 2nd, 2016

Photos & review by Eric @eRock6of6 exclusively for @fullmetalrock

The Royal Oak Music Theater was in awe Monday night as five of the world’s most respected and talented guitarists shared the stage to trade riffs, solos and some stories in what is known as the Generation Axe tour. Assembled by mastermind/virtuoso Steve Vai, the inaugural lineup includes metal guitar legends Zakk Wylde and Yngwie Malmsteen, the equally talented Nuno Bettencourt, 8-string guitar extraordinaire Tosin Abasi and drummer Matt Garstka, (both of Animals as Leaders), bassist Pete Griffin and Malmsteen keyboardist Nick Marinovich. With talent like that, the crowd were not going to need warming up.

The wall of amps were already set, drums and guitars tuned and mic stands in their place. The house lights dimmed and the crowd erupted as all five virtuoso's took to the stage and started jamming a cover of Boston’s “Foreplay.” An amazing sight to see and we were only one song in!

Each guitarist had their moment to shine playing a few songs of their own and then inviting the next guy out to jam with them during the 'transition'. The collaborations were definitely a highlight of the night. It always left the audience to wonder who might come out next and what songs would they play.

Nuno Bettencourt joined Abasi onstage for a stellar rendition of Animals as Leaders’ “Physical Education", then seamlessly shifted into his own set. Highlighted by “Flight of the Wounded Bumblebee” which showcased Nuno's swift fret work. Another notable moment was the "Best Of Nuno" medley that he said he actually discovered while browsing YouTube. He even treated the fans to a little acoustic guitar and starting out by playing "More Than Words". Then as soon as the crowd got enough to recognize the hit song, he stops and says, "nahh, not tonight", which drew some laughs.

Zakk Wylde was welcomed out by Bettencourt and they performed a darker style ballad that showcased dueling solos and their vocal skills. It was Wylde's turn to shine and that he did performing jaw dropping renditions of Black Sabbath’s “N.I.B.” and Jimi Hendrix's “Little Wing”. To the crowd's surprise and/or delight Wylde also spent the better part of two long solos walking through the middle of the crowd, all the while never missing a note!

Wylde introduced legend Yngwie Malmsteen and he was left to dazzle the audience with his lightning fast finger work. Smoke filled the stage floor and notes came at the audience at 100 mph. (Give or take). Occasionally spinning the guitar around his body or tossing it up in the air, or kicking picks into the front row Yngwie is definitely a showman. It was evident he was having fun on this night all the while making his virtuosity look so effortless.

Steve Vai teamed up with Yngwie for a 10+ minute collaboration to showcase his mastery where he matched up with Malmsteen note for note, bending strings and smacking the tremolo bar. At one point, Yngwie even checked his watch while holding the same note with Vai. Highlights of Vai's set included “Gravity Storm", a personal favorite of mine- “Tender Surrender” and “Building the Church” where Abasi made his way back out and Vai pulled out the chrome Ibanez with the blue light up dot inlays.

The night concluded with all 5 guitarists joining on stage once again for a scorching renditions of Edgar Winter’s “Frankenstein” and Deep Purple’s “Highway Star,” with none other than Malmsteen on lead vocals. While each individual artist was a force of nature on their own, seeing the way they could blend their styles together was truly a remarkable experience.

Remaining Tour Dates:

May 4, 2016 - Toronto, ON - Massey Hall
May 5, 2016 - Upper Darby, PA - Tower Theater
May 6, 2016 - Westbury, NY - Theatre at Westbury
May 7, 2016 - Hampton Beach, NH - Hampton Beach Casino Ballroom
May 8, 2016 - Providence, RI - Providence Performing Arts Center
May 9, 2016 - Red Bank, NJ - Count Basie Theatre

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