While a year’s worth of concerts often affords Alamo City metalheads various opportunities to see a slew of guitar wizards in a bundle of bands, rare is the chance to see such guitarists break out from their main acts into a solo, mostly instrumental setting.
That’s why Friday’s double whammy of current UFO and one-time Vicious Rumors guitarist Vinnie Moore and former Ozzy Osbourne sidekick and current Firewind skillsman Gus G. at The Rock Box provided a seldom-seen treat. Complemented by mostly instrumental local trio S.A. Territories, led in its own right by guitarist/singer Orrie V., the trifecta of guitar-driven acts shredded to theirs, and their fans’, hearts’ content.
Moore headlined a 10-song, 53-minute session filled with tunes spanning his solo career, including the title track to 1991’s Meltdown as his finale. He also offered up “Rain,” “Check It” (watch ATM Faceook Live footage here) and “In Control” (setlist in 40-photo slideshow below). Watch ATM’s footage of “Ridin’ High” here.
Taking the stage as a quartet, two of his mates were pulling back-to-back double duty after having backed Gus G. as well. Singer/bassist Dennis Ward, who produced Firewind’s 2017 and latest album Immortals, flexed his vocal cords more often with Gus than with Moore, while drummer Patrick Johansson effortlessly manned the kit. Johansson, the Swedish sticksman, is more commonly known as Yngwie Malmsteen’s current drummer since 2002’s Attack, though, ironically, he’s not to be confused with Anders Johansson, the drummer on Malmsteen’s monster ‘80s albums Marching Out, Trilogy and Odyssey but who is of no relation.
Gus G., the 37-year-old native of Greece, provided an entertaining electrical set, showcasing his three solo records: 2014’s I Am the Fire (ATM footage of the title track below), 2015’s Brand New Revolution and this year’s Fearless (watch ATM Facebook Live footage of “Big City” here). The cover of Dire Straits’ “Money For Nothin’ “ could have been omitted in favor of another original, but nevertheless, Gus’ fluid playing — conventionally or over his head and behind his back — accompanied, and may have even been the reason for, the pure joy he exhibited. That satisfaction, for Moore as well, carried over post-set as each artist posed for pics and signed autographs.
Yes, free of charge.
The hometown, meanwhile, was represented by S.A. Territories to kick things off, as Orrie V., bassist Tony Molina and exuberant drummer and crowd sparkplug Dino Duncan provided a string of original instrumentals and vocal tunes after an impromptu sound check jam of Slayer’s “Black Magic.” Watch them perform “Invincible” here. If you missed S.A. Territories, they’ll be at Alamo City Music Hall on Saturday, Oct. 6, supporting Syrus along with Numb To The Blow, Grind and Trejo for a $10 cover.
Whether of the local or national variety, stellar guitar work was in full force. The Friday night concert could have used at least a couple more hundred inside the downtown bar. But for those on hand, the affordable money spent wasn’t for nothin’. It was utilized in exchange for a solid showcase of neoclassical and rock guitar work and post-show meet-and-greets.
That’s a combination often resulting in empty pocketbooks for the average fan these days. But on this night, it was a combo that felt just right at The Rock Box.