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Tony MacAlpine is a shred guitarist who might not be as well known as names such as Joe Satriani or Steve Vai, but can definitely hold his own amongst names like those. His musical career began in 1986, and since then he has been involved with many unique projects. He has released 12 solo studio albums and one live album under his name, he played keyboards on two albums by fellow shred guitarist Vinnie Moore, he has been apart of Planet X alongside names like Derek Sherinian, Billy Sheehan, Dave LaRue, and Virgil Donati, was a part of Steve Vai’s touring band for about seven years, and has toured alongside Sherinian, Sheehan, and Mike Portnoy as a jam band. I first heard about him when I saw him shredding on a Steve Vai live DVD, and have been a fan of him ever since. I was very excited to find out that he would be performing at a venue in my area, because I would finally get my chance to see him live in person.

The doors to Saint Rocke opened up at 6 PM, and the show finally got started around 8 PM. Unfortunately, I ran late to this show (something that I never do) and missed the opening band, which was a guitarist by the name of Adrian Galysh. I am upset about this, because from what I see online he is a talented guitarist with a great tone. I heard good reviews about him from the people I talked to at the show, and I really hope that I will get the chance to see him live personally sometime in the future.

I got to the venue at around 9 PM, and found out that Tony would be starting in about 15 minutes. For those of you who are unfamiliar with Saint Rocke, it also functions as a bar and restaurant. During the local bands or opening bands, tables and chairs can still be setup so that people can eat food, but they will get removed during the headliners so that people can stand close to the stage (or in case of mosh pits). So it was around this time that the floor was being cleared, and the crowd made their way to the front of the stage. I got an excellent spot in the very front towards the center.

Tony MacAlpine walked onstage accompanied by Aquiles Priester (famous for his work in bands like Angra and Primal Fear) on drums and Bjorn Englen (famous for his work in Dio’s Disciples) on bass. The got their instruments ready, and then the lights went down and an intro tape started playing. The band started the set with “Sinfonia” from Tony’s 1995 album Evolution. From there, the band blasted through another four songs before finally taking a break. Tony addressed the crowd, thanked them for coming out, promoted his new album, and remarked on the previous time he had played at Saint Rocke and how he was happy to be back. The band then went through another group of songs before a break. This group of songs included some a bass solo and a drum solo, as well as songs often included in a Tony MacAlpine set such as “Sacred Wonder”, “The Vision”, and “Tears of Sahara”. The final group of songs included the title track of his latest album as well as a piano solo where Tony demonstrated his classical background. The set saw the band come back out for an encore, which happened to be “The Taker” from his debut album, Edge of Insanity. After the set, the band over went to the merch booth to take pictures with fans and to sign CDs. It was fun getting to talk to all three of them and it was awesome getting to talk to Herman Li of Dragonforce, who was also in attendance that night.

All in all, the set demonstrated the sheer talent from everybody on the stage that night. The bass solo included some great tapping licks. The drum solo saw Aquiles using every bit of his impressively large drum set, and even saw him playing along to some jazz tune the way that Neil Peart would in one of his drum solos. And of course, we got to see the talent and diversity of Tony. Songs like “Christmas Island” from his 2001 album “Chromaticity” showed his ability to play switch back and forth between keyboard and guitar, and it also showed his ability to play both instruments at the same time. This is the thing that really makes him stand out from other shred guitarists, because he has the ability to trade solos with himself, play chords for himself while he solos, or to play unison lines simultaneously. The style of music went from genres like jazz fusion and heavy metal. There was a lot of diversity from song to song, as well as in songs. The band was extremely tight together, and they were able to follow each others cues nicely. Aquiles and Bjorn were able to add their own touches into the music, giving new life into some of the tracks that are decades old. Last but not least, Tony’s guitar playing is still as impressive as ever. He has got a great tone and a great feel. It was enjoyable to just stand there and watch his fingers fly over the fretboard, all the while getting ideas for new licks and runs to try out on the guitar.

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Setlist:

1. Intro+Sinfonia

2. Christmas Island

3. Isis

4. Ghost of Versailles

5. Dream Mechanism

——————-Talk

6. Sacred Wonder

7. The Vision

8. Tears of Sahara

9. Bass Solo

10. Hundreds of Thousands

11. Drum Solo

——————-Talk

12. Concrete Gardens

13. Piano Solo

14. Exhibitionist Blvd

15. Poison Cookies

16. Man In a Metal Cage

Encore

17. The Taker

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