If just one star from the rock-guitar-god hysteria of the late 1980s was going to emerge from that decade and make a lasting impression, it always figured to be the Bay Area’s Joe Satriani, a naturally gifted musician whose ability to combine technical skill with emotional flair continues to impress.
At the sold-out House of Blues, as part of an intimate club tour before hitting large venues later this year, Sa-triani — sporting a newly shaved head and dark sunglasses — played a two-part show that featured songs from his new Epic Records album, “Crystal Planet,” during the first half and — following a brilliant bass solo from longtime sidekick Stu Hamm — his best-known songs during the second.
Satriani’s ability to incorporate a variety of moods and styles into his instrumentals has always been one of his most engaging qualities, and that talent was on full display early in the show.
Following the bold, exercise-in-scales “Up in the Sky,” which opened the concert, new songs like “Ceremony,” with its Native American dance vibe, the delicate “Love Thing,” which was awash in slow, melancholy blues chords, and the spacey “Raspberry Jam Delta-V” started the audience on an invigorating musical odyssey that seemed to go by much faster than the concert’s actual 90-minute duration.
Hamm’s mid-set solo, which incorporated a terrific bass version of the Beatles’ “I Want You (She’s So Heavy),” was, as always, one of the show’s highlights. Clad in a “South Park” T-shirt, the nimble-fingered bassist casually played near-impossible runs on his instrument as if he could do it in his sleep.
The evening climaxed with a string of Satriani’s most recognized songs, like “Surfing With the Alien,” “Ice 9,” “Satch Boogie” and, perhaps his signature tune, the uplifting “Summer Song,” which brought the male-dominated house down at perf’s end.