The Generation Axe Tour shredded the stage at Hard Rock Live Orlando Sunday December 9, 2018. This rock/heavy metal super group was the brain child of Steve Vai in 2016. Five exceptional guitar players shared the stage to bring the capacity Hard Rock Live crowd to their feet from beginning to end. MNPR Magazine was on the scene with their Central Florida corresponded MarkHoran.Pictures LLC to document the evening with pictures and a review.
Vai assembled some of the finest guitar players on the planet, including Zakk Wylde (Black Label Society, Ozzy Osbourne Band), Yngwie Malmsteen, Tosin Abasi (Animals as Leaders), Nuno Bettencourt (Extreme, Mourning Widows), and of course Steve Vai himself. I have seen Vai and Wylde on separate occasions but never on the same stage. Being introduced to the other three was just a treat beyond what I imagined.
The show started with all five rock shredders in a line playing the opening number. Then after the opening, the stage was left to Tosin Abasi and the backing band of JP Bouvet (drums), Nick Marinovich (Keyboards), and on bass Pete Griffin. After his brief set, Abasi handed of the stage to the story teller of the group, Nuno Bettencourt. When Nunos set ended, it was Wyles turn to show his world-renowned signature guitars and flowing mane. Wyles was the first to leave the stage and take the show into the seats. Vai followed next after his set yielding to the showmanship of Yngwie Malmsteen. When Malmsteen completed his set, the five returned together to finish out the show. That was the format
Each musician’s own personality was on display as they were able to totally express themselves in this superstar guitar player concert. The artists interaction with the crowd brought the performance right into the audience as at times the players dismounted the stage and headed down the aisles into the body of the fans, up close and personal. Not an area of the club was overlooked as Wyles even ventured onto the balcony and hung over the edge taunting the crowd below with cutting riffs. This was a guitar gods spectacle that could have gone on for days and the crowd wouldn’t have left until it was over. Fans of the show can pre-order the new CD “Generation Axe – The Guitars that Destroyed the World (Live in China)” on line. In Steve Vai’s words, “Generation Axe” was “to create a seamless show with one backing band and five completely accomplished and astonishing guitarists that take to the stage in various configurations, performing some of their solo music and merging together as cohesive co-creators of lushly orchestrated guitar extravaganzas.” “Pure controlled chaos” he added.
I saw Joe Satriani’s G3 2018 tour earlier this year. It was outstanding, but it was only three guitarists. The Generation Axe Tour is indeed bigger and better. They held the audience’s attention through the instrumentals by taking the music into the seats; it was pure entertainment.
Tosin Abasi , the youngest of the group is the lead guitar player in the band Animals as Leaders. Abasi is ranked #97 out of a list of 100 by Guitar World Magazine. His Genres are progressive metal, instrumental rock, djent, and metalcore. Abasi’s set was short and reserved. When all five were together on stage, he remained stage left with a noticeable amount of spacing between the guitarists. His abilities are real but overshadowed by the larger than life personalities of the others. Abasi plays his own signature 8-string guitars.
Nuno Bettencourt , the story teller of the group was engaging and amusing. He told a story of trying to figure out what to play on this tour. He Googled himself and found a copulation that a fan had put together. The rest of the story I will leave out as it was adult in nature. Bettencourt best know for being the lead guitar player in the band “Extreme” has played with many artists over the years and has also produced movie scores. His genres include glam metal, heavy metal, hard rock, funk metal, and alternative rock. Bettencourt was also the only musician to play an acoustic guitar in his set. He plays his Washburn Guitar signature series guitar. I had not seen Bettencourt before, he was great and I can’t wait to see him again.
Zakk Wylde is my favorite heavy metal guitarist. I saw Zakk in 2005 on the OzzFest Tour playing with Black Label Society. I was immediately floored by his performance. Later that year I saw him on TV playing with Ozzy Osbourne’s Band at The NFL season kickoff game, then a week later again on TV playing the National Anthem at an LA Kings game. He was everywhere, and I have been a fan ever since. Sunday nights Zakk Wyldes performance was better than expected. He wasn’t confined to the stage as he stalked the complete venue from top to bottom leaving carnage in his wake. To show his softer side, he brought a young fan on stage after one of his audience sweeps and placed his guitar on the young man, making his night one to remember. At that point I was thinking the kid was going to start shredding on Zakk’s guitar, but it was only a photo opportunity and the young man was all smiles. Zakk Wyles plays Gibson guitars with his signature design with the unmistakable bulls eye plastered across the guitar body. He is a playable character on the music video game Guitar Hero World Tour and even has a star on The Hollywood Walk of Fame. I could go one forever with more accolades, but seriously, he is the best heavy metal guitarist on the planet in my book.
Steve Vai, has been voted the “10th Greatest Guitarist” by Guitar World Magazine. I might have put him in the top 5, but I don’t have a vote. Steve Vai is an innovator. He doesn’t sound like any other guitarist nor does anyone sound like Steve Vai. At 18, he started playing with Frank Zappa, and I was told he was fired. He wasn’t fired for performance, Frank Zappa saw great things in his future and felt he was holding him back. So, Steve Vai was fired to go out and find the greatness that he is. Steve plays signature Ibanez Jem signature guitars. Steve Vai is an original! If you love lead guitar playing, he is a must to see and cross off your list. Or it my case, just seeing and listening to him play once isn’t enough.
Yngwie Malmsteen, was the biggest surprise of the night. He was larger than life as he commanded the stage. He shredded his guitar and then discarded his guitar picks as if they were no longer usable. He even would kick them into the audience for souvenirs, it was wild and fun. I had vaguely heard of Malmsteen, but to see him perform and play was a treat. Malmsteen’s genres include neoclassical metal, heavy metal, instrumental rock, and hard rock. Yngwie has a signature Fender Stratocastor with rosewood fret board, but he has been known to play other guitar manufacturers as well. Don’t hesitate if you get the chance to see this showman. He is cut from a different mold of lead guitarists, you won’t regret it.