Live Review: Yngwie Malmsteen - KK's Steel Mill, Wolverhampton
3rd November 2023
Words & Photos: Scott Clarke
The night was a cold one, the rain was in the air and I’m sure there must have been a few bonfire’s and fireworks displays around and about because traffic getting to the Midlands best live music venue, KK’s Steel Mill, was unnaturally busy and parking was more difficult than usual. However, upon approach it was clear that there were plenty of people who were all converging on the venue as queues lined both sides of the doors ready for the fireworks inside tonight as guitar maestro, Yngwie Malmsteen was top of the bill.
First up to open proceedings were rockers Limberlost. Hailing all the way from Seattle. The 6 piece took to the stage and wasted no time in engaging the already packed venue.
With more than a little Heart about them, the crowd were quick to warm to the band as they played a fantastic 45 minute set. Their energy and playful interactions along with the melodic, siren like qualities of the harmonising two singers, Krystle and Brittany were mesmerising, add that to the solid foundations provided by the lads in the background and some blistering guitar solos and we have a solid group that embody classic hard rock and are forming their own path to future stardom.
Opening up with The Real Thing from their 2021 release, Good Fight and going straight into Long Shadows and then into See What You Want. The whole set was comprised of a good mix of their Vol 1 and Good Fight records. After a brief introduction and thanks to the crowd and feeling at home with our weather for the past few days, keyboard notes lead us into the title track of the Good Fight release, its a much slower number and nice change of pace after a high octane intro. Up next we were in for a new track from the band Give it to Me, a release that is being played for the first time live on our shores this side of the pond, it went down to rapturous applause. A round of merch tossing abound before we go into Setting Sun, another slower paced, hard hitting ballad that exercises the vocal ranges. Finally Limberlost rounded out their set with a fantastic cover of the 8 minute Led Zeppelin classic, Kashmir, which obviously went down a storm being as local legend Robert Plant is only from a few miles down the road.
It’s safe to say they went down a treat and their brand of hard rock was enjoyed thoroughly by the audience, they seem to be finding their feet and not afraid to experiment with changing things up be it high tempo riffs or harder hitting power ballads, the main thing is the chemistry between the members which is clearly already there which should lead to even bigger and better things in this bands career, it also helped with the amount of goodies that were tossed from the stage, drumsticks, t-shirts, you name it, the lucky few in the crowd got a hold of some memorabilia and memories that will surely live on, encourage new fans and hopefully be enough to bring the band back to our shores again in the not too distant future.
Yngwie Malmsteen is revered as one of the greatest guitarists of our time. Known for his unparalleled technical skill, he has revolutionized the world of guitar playing and inspired countless musicians with his Neo Classical style. With a career spanning over four decades, Malmsteen has continuously pushed the boundaries of what can be achieved on six strings.
KK's Steel Mill is the perfect setting for an evening of epic guitar solos and electrifying energy tonight. The venue's atmosphere allows for an up-close and personal experience, ensuring that every fan can feel the raw power of Malmsteen's playing and I have to say, it was LOUD. For the first time I can say that I felt the solid concrete floor shaking and felt the power of the Marshalls in my core. It’s a credit to the sound tech’s for the way they managed to harness this power without it being distorted or inaudible.
Smoke continues to fill the arena as anticipation builds up, the huge stack of Marshall amps looms on stage creating an imposing backdrop.
From the moment Malmsteen takes to the smoke filled stage with a blistering guitar solo and rips into Rising Force, it is clear that he is a master of his craft. His fingers effortlessly navigate the fretboard, delivering intricate melodies, and jaw-dropping solos. Whether he is playing a melodic ballad or a face-melting shred-fest, Malmsteen's technical prowess is simply unmatched. His movement across the stage, launching guitar picks into the crowd as he goes, was a sight to behold as he fed off the energy of the crowd.
It was a relentless intro, song after song blending into each other effortlessly, No Rest For the Wicked, Soldier, Into Valhalla, Baroque and Roll until finally a chance to catch our breath as keyboards loomed in the background in a relative moment of calm before the storm continued.
There were a couple of instances on the night that I wouldn’t quite class as technical difficulties, but I think it showed the level of perfectionism that Yngwie is at where he knew something wasn’t quite to his liking and took the time to either retune or get his guitar tech on the issue, us mere mortals wouldn’t have noticed. I also couldn’t tell you the number of guitar changes he went through on the night but it was clear that they do incur a substantial amount of hard wear as they did as many miles swinging around the stage as Yngwie himself did as he commanded it.
With pounding drums throughout, Emilio Martinez doubled up on Bass and occasional on stage assistant to Yngwie and Nick Marino kept up on keyboards overlaying on Yngwie’s mind blowing guitar work and also providing fantastic vocals where needed on a few of the numbers. The band as a whole need a special mention because of their abilities to keep up and gel so well, Yngwie shines obviously as the star of the show but its testament to the other members that everything else is like clockwork and enables Yngwie to take centre stage and perform to his best.
Like an Angel continues the set with Yngwie on vocal duty too proving he still has an amazing voice to add to his many talents. Like the title of the next track, the evening goes on with Relentless Fury, leading into a mix of classics and newer material from Yngwie’s extensive catalogue including Now Your Ships are Burned, Wolves at the Door, (Si Vis Pacem) Parabellum which, as Yngwie reminds us, has a lot of notes (don’t they all?) as well as classical covers of Johann Sebastian Bach.
When it comes to shredding, Yngwie Malmsteen is in a league of his own. His lightning-fast arpeggios and explosive alternate picking demonstrate his virtuosic ability on the guitar, but aside from technical skill, it’s also the emotion he is able to ring out. Every note he plays is delivered with precision and a ferocious intensity that leaves the audience in awe and tonight was no exception. I believe that’s the optimum word that best describes the reactions of all in attendance, awe. It’s difficult to pigeon hole Yngwie as a style or to comment on how he sounds as he is a law unto himself. I have never been present and witnessed someone so in touch with the instrument that it behaves as an extension of themselves, he was playing notes I didn’t even know existed and moved his hands with surgical precision but also with a grace that made it look effortless. It’s an incredibly challenging thing to describe, almost an impossible task and although I knew of Yngwie, I’d heard Yngwie’s records, I think the only way you can truly experience his genius is in person at a live show.
Far Beyond the Sun with a little Brian May, Bohemian Rhapsody solo thrown in for good measure, Seventh Sign, some Arpeggios from Hell and the guitar solo from Trilogy suite which is sandwiched in between amazing covers of Deep Purples, Smoke on the Water and Red House by The Jimi Hendrix Experience are next up followed by Fugue and You Don’t Remember, I’ll Never Forget which round out the main set before the inevitable encore and an acoustic masterclass which leads us into the classic Black Star to bring a jaw dropping experience to a close.
While technical excellence is Yngwie's trademark, he also possesses an incredible sense of style and showmanship. His larger-than-life stage presence, complete with his signature flowing hair and baroque inspired fashion sense, adds an extra layer of excitement to his performances. It's not just the music that draws the crowd, it's the entire experience of witnessing a true rock legend in action that has him captivating the audience with style.
Attending Yngwie Malmsteen's performance at KK's Steel Mill is an experience that left all in attendance gobsmacked. From the blistering guitar solos to the showmanship on display, every moment is filled with excitement and reverence for the power of music. Whether you're an aspiring guitarist, a seasoned musician, or simply a fan of exceptional live performances, witnessing Yngwie Malmsteen in action is an opportunity you shouldn't miss. A genuine masterclass in guitar virtuosity. Listening to the records, the albums is one thing but to see him in action with your own eyes is quite another and still left me walking away at the end of the night with many mixed emotions. As a poor, occasionally dabbling guitar player myself, I was left briefly feeling like I didn’t deserve to pick up a guitar again, however it was also inspiring in the same way and despite the raw power of the show, it felt less like a rock gig performance by a rock star and more that we should be considering Mr Malmsteen amongst the truly great composers in music throughout the eras.