Monday, October 24, 2016

Concrete Gardens in Seattle - TONY MACALPINE - Gig Review 10/17/16


w/George Varghese

The Absent Light
@ Studio Seven
Seattle, WA


For those in the know, I've been playing guitar for many years.  I currently play around town in a music duo called Train Wreck (one of a dozen Train Wrecks in the area it seems).  While guitar playing is not a priority for me, it will always be a love of mine.  

Tony Macalpine came onto the scene back in the mid-80's when the Shrapnel shredders were making a name for themselves.  I still have my "Edge of Insanity" album (and CD).  I remember back then it was always great not only hearing an amazing neo-classical guitarist but seeing one of color was inspiring to me (being Asian myself).  

This was the first time I'd be seeing Tony live.  I missed his last gig at Studio Seven just over a year ago, before the health concerns that took him off of the road for months.  I'm very glad, is all of the music scene, to see Tony back healthy and doing what he does best - perform music.

It was a Monday night at Studio Seven.  The club was maybe a quarter full - I actually thought there would be more people there.  Tony was playing a headline set in between stops while on tour opening for Steve Vai's current tour.

Local openers The Absent Light took the stage first.  A five piece that played an interesting brand of rock music, the guys in the band definitely have some musical chops (particularly the rhythm section).  I wasn't too keen on the vocals which reminded me a bit of Kurt Cobain but musically they held my attention.  

Next up was the other artist I was credentialed to cover for the night:  local guitarist/songwriter George Varghese.  George performed with his band, a few of which were making their debut (second guitarist Luke Greenwood and vocalist on two songs Gary Clay) this evening.  Complete with fog machine, George ran through tracks from his CD, "Back In Time", to much applause from the audience.  George was a strong contrast to Tony's set.  George comes from the "play for the song" approach which I really enjoy.  Very melodic and tasteful playing, with spurts of shredding, George captivated the audience with his set of tunes.  

George has his sights set on material for the Grammy's again (he played a showcase in LA last year check out YouTube for evidence) as well as other musical and recording collaborations (George own his own recording studio in Kirkland, WA).  

Coming across very humble on stage (and after his set), George has the talent to become a known commodity in the music industry.  Already popular in his native India, it's high time the US industry takes notices.  I'm looking forward to seeing what the future brings from George Varghese!

After a brief changeover, Tony Macalpine took the stage with Bjorn Englen and Aquiles Priester. Three monster musicians Tony performed tunes from his vast back catalog.  Tunes from his latest release, "Concrete Gardens" mixed in with old favorites like "The Taker" and "Tears of Sahara" seamlessly.  Tony played like he hadn't missed a beat, also throwing in a piano solo and turning the spotlight over to both Bjorn and Aquiles for their own solos, the trio ripped through material that left the musicians in the audience in awe.  

For myself, seeing Tony shred on his 8 string Ibanez was just ridiculous.  His picking is so clean I might as well use my guitar as a coffee table as I'll never play like that.  Inspiring and disgusting (you musicians know what I mean) at the same time, all three musicians were in top form.  

It was nice to see all of the artists last Monday evening enjoying themselves.  Packed club or not, you couldn't tell by their performances.  

Check out The Absent Light and George Varghese locally (both have Facebook pages) for upcoming shows.  Tony Macalpine is on tour right now opening for Steve Vai.  Hopefully Tony comes back soon to shred for us in Seattle once more.


Special thanks:  George Varghese, Dee Tee, and Michael Mesker for the credentials!

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