Yngwie Malmsteen: Live in Dallas, Texas

Yngwie Malmsteen
June 9, 2017
Gas Monkey Live
Dallas, Texas

By A. Lee Graham

Set List:
Rising Force | Spellbound | Into Valhalla | Baroque & Roll | Like an Angel (For April) | No Rest For The Wicked | Top Down, Foot Down | Badinerie (Bach) | Violin Concerto No. 4 in D Minor (Paganini) | Adagio (Paganini) | Far Beyond The Sun | The Star-Spangled Banner | Seventh Sign | Overture | From A Thousand Cuts | Arpeggios From Hell | Demon Driver | Evil Eye | Trilogy Suite, Op. 5 | Blue | Fugue |
 Heaven Tonight | (acoustic guitar solo) | Black Star | I’ll See The Light Tonight

Few artists inspire more reverence and ridicule than Yngwie Malmsteen.

Praised for his neoclassical guitar acumen yet lambasted for over-the-top-attitude and ego, the Swedish guitarist is the living embodiment of a rock star. Yet it’s that very quality that some consider a liability in an age when the rock star archetype is waning and an everyman ethos is rising.

Social media proves that point. Never before have we known more about our favorite musicians and their everyday lives. Favorite cereal? What vehicle they use to drive the kids to daycare? It’s all a click away. Indeed, technology seems to have stripped mystique from musicians, with few individuals attaining rock star stature, let alone pursuing it.

Yet Malmsteen remains a head-to-toe rock hero, a realization not lost on the hundreds of rabid fans cheering his every move at the Dallas stop of his World On Fire tour. The stage itself flips a middle finger to modern concert presentation, with no fewer than 50 Marshall amplifier heads towering above the musicians. 

Kicking things off with “Rising Force,” Malmsteen and his band plowed through a set packed with power metal stormers, melodramatic ballads and instrumentals always focused on one thing: Malmsteen’s cream Fender Stratocaster. The instrument — and its master — got quite a workout, for a Malmsteen concert isn’t so much a series of songs interrupted by an occasional solo, but rather a solo interrupted by the occasional song — or song snippet.

What a pleasure to witness material from Malmsteen’s early days. “Evil Eye,” “Far Beyond the Sun” and “Black Star” — even “Heaven Tonight” — are gems from Malmsteen’s oeuvre before it blurred into a procession of uninspired power metal albums.  

While fans cheered music spanning his vast catalog, more time was spent on solo showboating. But that was fine with the audience, happy to hear J.S. Bach’s “Badinerie” and Nicole Paganini’s “Adagio” and “Violin Concerto No. 4 in D Minor,” as well as “Seventh Sign,” “Heaven Tonight,” “Spellbound” and other Malmsteen originals. 

Each composition — or medley of classical classics — never failed to entertain. Fretboard pyrotechnics — and actual pyrotechnics seeming to engulf the Marshall backline — matched the melodrama, as did Malmsteen’s unending quest to throw out as many guitar picks as his seemingly bottomless supply would allow.

Though bass player Ralph Ciavolino and keyboardist Nick Marino traded off vocals, with drummer Mark Ellis keeping the beat, Malmsteen was clearly the front man. The musicians performed in one corner of the stage, giving maestro Malmsteen free reign to prance freely, unencumbered by the hired help.

After all, the musicians were in Malmsteen’s world. And if towering flames, incendiary guitar playing and ear-splitting volume are part of that landscape, fans have much to enjoy when Malmsteen hits their town.