YNGWIE MALMSTEEN / PAN DEMIC / VEGA / INTENTIONAL RAGE; Ventura Theatre; Ventura, CA; 03/13/04

Reviewed by R. Scott Bolton

Let's get this out of the way right up front: I was never a big fan of Yngwie Malmsteen's music. Oh, I certainly could respect the man's talent as guitarist. To this very day, there are few faster fretmasters than Yngwie and his style is technical perfection. But it was all a little too sterile for me - I like my music with a few warts here and there. Absolute precision and rock'n'roll just don't go well together.

But I do like Yngwie's newest release, "Attack!!," and it isn't often that a guitar god comes to your home town, so I loaded up the RoughEdgemobile and headed out to the Ventura Theatre to catch Yngwie in action.

I was glad I did.

There were a lot of jokes about Yngwie's size before he hit the stage that night, but those jokes were forgotten once the show began. First, he looks pretty good - yeah, he's a little heavier now but who doesn't weigh more than they did twenty years ago? Second, he is still a master guitarist. His fingers were nothing but a blur as he ripped through riffs and solos that still sound as tight and regimented today as they did when they were first recorded. And, perhaps most importantly of all, Yngwie seemed to be having fun. He wandered the stage, a huge smile on his face most of the time, and really got into the rock'n'roll. 

His band, Rising Force, were incredible as well. Nearly as tight as their leader, the band was into the music - playing each song as though it were still fresh and meaningful to them. They, too, were having fun. And that attitude carried over into the audience that evening, who pumped their fists and cheered each time Yngwie ripped into another solo.

It was the kind of show that made me wonder what it was about Yngwie's earlier stuff that I didn't care for - and I'll go back and explore. Who knows? Maybe this time I'll have more appreciation for it. My experience at the show that evening was more than enough to make me want to hear it all again.

Yngwie and Rising Force also boasted some impressive opening acts. First up that evening was INTENTIONAL RAGE, featuring former bandmembers of legendary local rockers HELARAGE. Intentional Rage got the evening started off with a bang, delivering a stunningly tight barrage of heavy metal that got the still-cold audience warmed up in a hurry. The band's songwriting was modern and explosive and their live performance was dynamic and exciting. I look forward to hearing more from Intentional Rage.

VEGA took the stage next and there were a few rolled eyes as we realized they were an instrumental band. Not that there's anything wrong with that (to paraphrase "Seinfeld") but an instrumental band in a live setting is always a little iffy. By their second song, however, Vega had convinced us they were the exception rather than the rule. The band, led by an incredibly talented guitarist, proved to be very entertaining and, again, grabbed the attention of the audience and held it. Unfortunately, I don't know more about this band and couldn't find anything about them on the web. When I do, I'll post it here.

PAN DEMIC was up next and they kept the ball rolling with their sturdy, if unspectacular, brand of rock. Pan Demic rocked hard and kept the audience energy level up but didn't rise to the level of the previous bands. Still, I'd go see Pan Demic again.

All in all, it was a great evening of high-octane rock'n'roll and one that gave me a new appreciation for the impressive fretwork of Mr. Yngwie Malmsteen.

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Copyright 2004 by R. Scott Bolton. All rights reserved.
Revised: 23 Aug 2016 22:57:16 -0400.