Tosin Abasi, founder of the instrumental progressive metal band Animals as Leaders, was the first of the night's soloists where he calmly showcased his signature harmonies utilizing 7-, 8- and 9-string guitars. Abasi was then joined on stage by Nuno Bettencourt, who famously brought to life acoustic rock ballad 'More Than Words' as part of Grammy-nominated Boston-based band EXTREME. Bettencourt's style is best recognized by his blistering guitar riffs which often feature funky, syncopated timing, and high-speed solos. On this night, Bettencourt found himself soloing not just behind a guitar but also behind some drumsticks as he was able to demonstrate his rapid-fire musicality wasn't just limited to the fretboard.
Bettencourt was frequently paired up this evening with Grammy Award-winning big man, Zakk Wylde, former axe man for Ozzy Osbourne. Dwarfing his signature bullseye Les Paul in hand, Wylde put on a master-class of bluesy metal. Wylde found himself behind the microphone and belted out his raw and gritty voice which was a perfect match to the grittiness of his guitar-playing style.
And then there was Yngwie. After hearing the sheer musical genius of 4 highly talented guitarists, one could conceivably believe they had potentially 'heard it all'. With the 5th soloist of the night, that belief would prove to be as far from the truth as one could get. Yngwie Malmsteen took to the stage and his soul spilled out through his guitar. 4- and 5-octave arpeggios... pedal notes... harmonic minors... dimished and Phyrgian scales... all came together as Malmsteen delivered his style of neoclassical rock. Inspired by his love for Baroque and Romantic classical music, I have sincerely never heard anything like his style of play, and was mesmerized from flawless start, to flawless finish. It sounded as if he played a million notes tonight, and I swear not one note was off. Generation Axe just wrapped up its final performance in North America, marking the conclusion of 3 mind-blowing years of separate touring schedules.
If you have ever dreamt of what musical heaven would be like, do yourself a favor and commit to watching this show live. On stage was genius beyond comprehension.
photos and write-up by: Bailey Guinigundo