I wasn’t a big fan of Yngwie Malmsteen in the ’80s, but I have come to recognise that he was a significant figure in the ’80s music scene, at least where and when I grew up. He created his own style of playing the guitar that most likely had a bigger influence on guitar based rock than probably even many guitar players in similar genres themselves recognise.
Anyway, as I was drifting off to sleep a couple nights ago, I read that he was going to be playing here in sleepy southwest Florida, and that caught my attention. I checked if it was true the following night, and upon learning it was, I ordered a ticket. On the drive home from the show tonight, I reflected on why I did. I wasn’t ever really that big of a fan, but I felt like out of an appreciation for a musician who created his own style of music, a sense of nostalgia for the ’80s, probably, and, well, just how often do we get acts like that in this part of the world, I’d might as well go and see what the buzz had been all about, all of those lost decades ago.
I wasn’t disappointed, it was pretty much what I expected: A guy shredding on his stratocaster with his own unique style, interspersed with slower, more classically inspired pieces, followed by ramping it back up to frenetic trills and riffs. The man seems tireless. He kept his guitar tech busy; changing guitars almost constantly, and having him catch the guitar when he threw it to him several times. It was an entertaining show, and he worked hard at the theatrics, keeping the audience engaged, and just putting on a show.
There were a lot of die hard fans there, and he played to them especially. It seemed clear to me that he fed off of the crowd’s energy, and well, that has always been something I believed in, that when you go to a show like that, you, as an audience member, are a part of the show. You’ve got to do your part if you want him to do his. I can’t help but thinking of the uncountable hours of practise that went into making Yngwie Malmsteen who and what he is, as a guitar player who found his niche and went on to be an influence to countless guitarists inspired by him. The guy is a legend, whether you’re a fan of his style of playing or not.