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Manchester Academy 2, 12 July 2008

I have to say I warmed to Yngwie Johann after he gave the lighting guy some grief: "please cut the blue, green and white lights - you're making us look fucking old". With Malmsteen, you pretty much get what is expected: an hour of guitar widdle punctuated by a few half-remembered eighties classics.

This was the first UK outing for new vocalist "Ripper" Owens and there's a new album in the offing. Unfortunately not available prior to this tour and seemingly a missed opportunity.

Ripper Owens has lost none of his power, but in truth this is a difficult gig for any vocalist. Owens' predecessor, Doogie White, told us that he spent a lot of the time offstage, enough time to have a shower, manicure and a Chinese banquet on a good day.

When Malmsteen hits the widdle, there's really no let up but with a lack of tune or even a riff to get your teeth into. The few identifiable songs not surprisingly came from his eighties heyday: 'I Am A Viking', 'Demon Driver' and 'You Don't Remember, I'll Never Forget'.

YJ is every inch the guitar hero and, whilst the excess is not unexpected, Ripper's vocals become a mere diversion until the next shred-fest and Michael Troy's keyboards are hidden under the holocaust. The crowd chant of 'Yngwie Fucking Malmsteen' although instigated by Ripper is perhaps a more profound statement than we all realise.

Review by David Randall


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