CLEARWATER — World-renowned guitarist Yngwie Malmsteen will perform Friday, June 7, 8 p.m., at Capitol Theatre, 405 Cleveland St., Clearwater.
Tickets start at $30. Call 727-791-7400 or visit www.atthecap.com.
Malmsteen is an undoubted pioneer, someone whose style and creativity has inspired so many others. While he first came to everybody’s notice in Los Angeles with Steeler’s self-titled album in 1983, followed by Alcatrazz’s “No Parole from Rock ‘N’ Roll” the same year and “Live Sentence” in 1984, it’s been what he’s done since in a distinguished and far-ranging career as a solo performer and band leader that has momentously shown Malmsteen’s craft and worth as one of the elite guitarists on the planet. Combining skills that span a vast spectrum of inspirations, he stands as a giant, melding melody, technique and an epic scope in a unique and inclusive fashion.
Now, with “Blue Lightning,” his new release, Malmsteen highlights not only his enduring dexterity and diversity, but also pays homage to those from the blues world who have fueled his artistic spirit for so long.
“I have always played around with old songs, both live and also in the studio,” Malmsteen said in a press release from Mascot Label Group. “I did a similar album called ‘Inspiration’ a while ago, and it was Mascot who came to me and suggested I do a blues record.”
Malmsteen explained that because he grew up in a classically trained family, people know him for playing in what is called a neo classical style.
“But when I got a guitar for my 5th birthday, what I would try to emulate were John Mayall & The Bluesbreakers,” he said. “I would jam along to what they did on record with Eric Clapton. That’s something people don’t realize about me: I do have a strong interest in the blues. So, when Mascot came to me with the suggestion of doing an album of songs in this style, it didn’t faze me at all. In fact, it seemed so natural.”
What Malmsteen has on “Blue Lightning” is combine choices which might seem almost obvious with some that will turn heads.
“There were songs that were immediately clear I wanted to do,” Malmsteen said. “These were the likes of ‘Purple Haze’ (Jimi Hendrix) and ‘Smoke On The Water’ (Deep Purple), which I have been playing since I was a kid. But then I also went for something like ‘While My Guitar Gently Weeps’ (The Beatles), which I wasn’t sure I could do. In this case, it was about trial and error, and I am delighted that I was able to do justice to the original.”
“Rising Force,” Malmsteen’s first solo album, is now considered the bible for neoclassical rock. Released in 1984, it made it to No. 60 on the Billboard charts — an impressive feat for a mostly instrumental guitar album with no commercial airplay. The album also gained Malmsteen a Grammy nomination for best rock instrumental performance. He was voted Best New Talent in several readers’ polls, Best Rock Guitarist the year after and “Rising Force” became Album of the Year. “Rising Force” blazed a trail on the concert circuit that established Malmsteen as one of rock guitar’s brightest new stars and added a new genre to the music lexicon: neoclassical rock.
In 1997, Malmsteen proved that he was much more than a rock phenomenon. After months of intensive work, he produced his first completely classical work, “Concerto Suite for Electric Guitar and Orchestra in E Flat Minor Op.1.”