Yngwie Malmsteen’s Guitar Gods Tour hit Toronto
The tour’s only Canadian stop on the tour was on Saturday, June 21, at the Phoenix Concert Center, and fans from all walks of life were lined up around the block long before the doors opened for their chance to catch a glimpse of the one and only Yngwie Malmsteen, the Swedish legend of guitar bravado – the virtuoso composer and shredder of our time.
Also on the bill were three other guitar gods – Gary Hoey, Bumblefoot, Uli Jon Roth, and the opener, T.D. Clark, who definitely earned his spot on that tour with his amazing licks, chugs, kicks, and charisma.The show was extremely delayed, doors were slated to be opened at 7 p.m., but with no explanation, fans were held outside until close to 9 p.m. before the show started. It was a very slow moving line to get in for the crowd, but, it truly only built up the suspense that much more.
Once that was all behind us though, the show started, and I don’t think a soul in there reflected on their frustration on the wait time once Clark hit the stage. That dude can wail, simply put. You may know his work from many sporting highlights, and ESPN’s theme song, and many other cameos of his music.Him and his band put on a gnarly 30-minute set that lasted until about 9:30. The stage techs were luckily very quick at dismantling and reassembling the sets for each respective Guitar God.
Next up was the great new guitarist of Guns N Roses – Bumblefoot. Unfortunately for him, they lost quite a bit of their set due to poor sound quality, which they tried to repair while maintaining their set list. At first you couldn’t hear vocals. Then it was the guitar you couldn’t hear, and so on. They finally got it right. But I guess a quick stage set up can’t be a perfect one.
With his virile double gold guitar, he and his band shredded up a storm, and ended their set with a really cool rendition of the Pink Panther theme song, that started off traditionally and then broke into Bumblefoot’s signature brand of shred and tap.They randomly took a song request off the floor from an obnoxious fan, and then just said “OK! I guess we’re taking requests now,” and then proceeded to fulfill the request.
After they broke down his set, it was time for the one and only Gary Hoey. Known primarily for his work with Hocus Pocus, of course he had to play a couple of their wicked tunes.
He admitted to the crowd that they forgot to bring merch for the fans that were upset they could only get Malmsteen’s or Clark’s merch at the back. But Hoey promised to come back soon and make it up to us. Hoey put on an really entertaining and diverse set full of his classics and new songs, and even one of his originals from his first album dating 20 years back. These old guys can still shred with the best of them. And like a fine wine, these guitarists are only getting better with age.
Speaking of getting better with age, Malmsteen was up next, and the crowd went absolutely insane when the smoke filled the room and out came the leather-clad Malmsteen, whom is turning 51 on June 30.
This has been an amazing year for Malmsteen.He recently released his autobiography Relentless (that was ridiculously overpriced at his merch table at $50, even t-shirts were $40. But he had two albums for sale for $5 each, can’t complain about that,) he’s released a fully solo produced album titled Spellbound, he even played every instrumental track on the album. Then of course to top it off, this amazing Guitar Gods tour he’s headlining.
I swear he threw out over 50 of his guitar picks to the crowd. Every time he would finish a scale or a breakdown, he’d drop his pick and kick it out of the air to the crowd, while still maintaining the vibrato of his last note. I caught one, happily, that I will cherish forever.
Not only that, but every time he needed to switch guitars or take a break, he’d hold his guitar over his head in some awesome pose, then proceed to turn around and lob the guitar about 15 feet across the stage to his guitar tech.
Malmsteen shredded on to well past midnight, and left fans wanting more, but yet oh so satisfied with the blatant display of guitar prowess they had just experienced over the course of 5 incredible sets.
Story by Devin Size, Photos by ftfphotography.