An instrumental headline set from
an accomplished guitarist/keyboardist is not an event that often comes your way.
Yet I’m not really expecting a huge turn-out tonight as it’s perhaps more of a
niche event. Of course none of this will affect my bubbling anticipation - I
have in fact been following the career of Tony MacAlpine ever since that M.A.R.S.
album he recorded in 1986 with Tommy Aldridge (Ozzy, Whitesnake, Gary Moore,
Patrick Rondat), Rudy Sarzo (Dio, Ozzy, Quiet Riot, Yngwie Malmsteen) and
vocalist Rob Rock (Impellitteri, Axel Rudi Pell).
As I edge towards the stage, I
spot guitarists of several well-known European Metal bands, presumably here to
scrutinize the performance a major inspiration of theirs.
tonight’s menu is one ‘vocal’ band sandwiched between two instrumental sets.
While lingering at the
merchandise stand, someone tells me that the first band’s set is just 15 minutes
long. At that news, I rush towards the stage, taking care not to blink lest I
miss the entire performance…….
The first band features bassist Billy Sheehan (Mr Big, ex-Tony MacAlpine) and
drummer Mike Mangini (Dream Theatre, James La Brie, Steve Vai, Extreme, etc,
etc). Well actually it doesn’t feature Mr Sheehan and Mr Mangini. I can almost
see those puzzled looks on your faces, so I should better elaborate……
The ‘band’ is actually a one-man band – namely Brazilian guitarist Daniel Piquê.
Daniel recent recorded an instrumental solo album with the aforementioned
musicians amongst those who brought his compositions to life. Tonight he used
the tracks they recorded as backing tracks from a laptop while Daniel played his
own bits ‘live’.
Unfortunately this set-up didn’t work out very well as the backing tracks
sounded at odds with the live guitar solos. Even Daniel himself appeared
frustrated at times. Besides, even though he took the initiative to communicate
with the audience, his stage presence and confidence was a tad underwhelming.
Beneath all this, the audience could clearly see that Daniel Piquê is a talented
guitarist and I for one will be keeping an eye (and ear) open for him for here
Alas my rating has to be based on what I’ve heard and seen during those measly
Over Dee Moon
Pigs Might Fly!
soon as the band starts playing, the U.S.A. origins of Agent Cooper become
plainly obvious. Yet it’s in England’s past that the band seems to find its
spiritual solace, in the form of bands such as Deep Purple, Yes and ELP (though
with the heaviness of these bands raised a couple of notches).
The band members really seemed to be enjoying themselves and when I struggle
with my cheap camera to take a shot which isn’t blurred, it’s always a good
sign. However the band didn’t win me over entirely. For example although most of
the songs sounded good enough, Doug Busbee’s voice didn’t seem to be nailing
‘Misunderstood’ and ‘Mother’ – the band’s closing numbers – is where everything
just clicked brilliantly. If only the same could be said for rest of the set.
Good For My Soul
Disinfect Your Mind
…In The Bottle
The Desolate Supreme
Whether he’s playing with Steve Vai, Derek Sherinian or jazzmeister bassist
Bunny Brunel, Tony MacAlpine has always kept the quality bar high. Sure enough,
tonight Macalpine’s band did not disappoint. At all.
The biggest surprise I had was that Tony MacAlpine played his entire “Edge Of
Insanity” debut solo album from start to end. I certainly had no problem with
that – to this day the album remains a fan and personal favourite. None of
tonight’s line-up had ever played on any recording of Tony MacAlpine and I felt
this made the material’s interpretation all the more interesting. Nili Brosh,
the 23-year old Israeli guitarist currently touring with MacAlpine’s band made a
very strong impression – she has a very good ear for melody and well-rounded
technique. It struck me that Nili Brosh wasn’t even born when “Edge Of Insanity”
was originally released (in 1985) and I’m suddenly feeling depressingly old!
Besides “Edge Of Insanity” the rest of the set was made up of nearly half the
recent “Tony MacAlpine” album plus a handful of other songs taken from the rest
of his solo discography. The whole set’s delivery was spot on but it was ‘Tears
Of The Sahara’ that, well, brought tears (of joy) to my eyes. Towards the end of
the set, the band vacated the stage for Aquiles Priester (Angra, Di’Anno) who
played an incredibly powerful and sharp drum solo. I was left wondering why
bands don’t feature drum solos at their gigs any more. Maybe because there
aren’t many drummer as good as Aquiles. A word of praise is also due to
MacAlpine’s bassist Bjorn Englen (Yngwie Malmsteen, Uli Jon Roth, Quiet Riot)
for giving the compositions wings.
for Tony MacAlpine himself, it was thrilling to see him effortlessly hover from
the most complex to the most emotional guitar solos. The only thing that matches
Tony Macalpine’s reputation as a guitarist is his skill as a
pianist/keyboardist. Sure enough, there were a couple of opportunities for him
to flex his skills at the keys, such as his rendition of a Chopin opus, but I
would have liked to hear more of Tony at the keys.
After the gig most of the audience heeded Tony MacAlpine’s invitation to
congregate at the merchandise stand where he socialised with his fans. A nice
way to end a memorable evening.
Wheel Of Fortune
Quarter To Midnight
Agrionia Empire In The Sky
The Witch And The Priester
Chopin Prelude 19 Opus
Edge Of Insanity
No Place In Time
Angel Of Twilight
Tears Of Sahara
The Violin Song
Psychoctopus (drum solo)
Hundreds Of Thousand
DANIEL PIQUÊ (www.myspace.com/danielpiqueofficial)
AGENT COOPER (http://agentcooper.com)