Upsetting
Wednesday, April 07, 2004
 
Yngwie the Ax Grinder

Cockiness is as crucial a component of the typical heavy metal star's arsenal as overdriven Marshall stacks. Yngwie Malmsteen, a guitar hero straight out of Central Casting, came to Jaxx on Friday with an overabundance of both.

Malmsteen didn't become an idol to generations of suburban dirtballs for nothing.

The 40-year-old Swede has, as the players say, chops. As shown on the metal-by-numbers tune "Dreaming (Tell Me)," Malmsteen might possess the fastest fingers in metal history. His licks, particularly when played in a relatively small venue through a wall of 10 Marshall amps, can weary a listener after a while, but Malmsteen's attitude never flags. It's a very bad attitude.

Dressed in a loose-fitting, low-hanging black satin shirt that looked like something from the Steven Seagal Collection, Malmsteen showed hilariously little feeling for members of his band. His first words into the microphone came halfway through his two-hour set, when he upbraided drummer Patrik Johannsen for "missing a [expletive] cue!"

Malmsteen played the opening bars of Eddie Van Halen's "Eruption," a revelation for electric guitarists when it was released in 1978, with his teeth. He played a Hendrixian version of "The Star-Spangled Banner," one of the most famous guitar breaks in rock history, as if he were slumming. The face Malmsteen wore during that performance -- but not the performance itself -- was worth the price of admission.
-- Dave McKenna
 
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