To always equate exciting, high-energy rock shows with microphone-wielding vocalizing frontmen is to ignore any live performance by renowned guitar virtuoso Joe Satriani. Granted, most great rock shows are led by charismatic, swaggering singers, but when Satriani steps onstage, he is the front man. Mic or no mic, vocals or no vocals, Satriani always wins over an audience with his deft digits, delivering signature hooks and melodies.
On October 13, 2004, hundreds of music fans observed a blistering performance by Satriani and his equally proficient band at the Lincoln Theatre in Raleigh, N.C.
For front-of-house engineer Doug Nightwine, touring without a traditional vocalist makes for jam-packed schedules but also a well-oiled musical machine. “The fact that there's not a singer means that we can go eight or nine shows in a row without a break,” Nightwine explains. “We don't have to give a singer the mandatory ‘three-shows-and-a-day-off’ kind of thing. By the time you've made it to the second week, you've got your game on strong.”
While Satriani does sing on a couple of tunes — using a Shure SM58 to do so — the vast majority of his two-part instrumental set showcases the guitarist, who is always on the move. “Because Joe is the main artist,” Nightwine says, “he can't be locked down in front of his amp where he would normally get the feedback and sustain he needs. Joe can step into his zone of wedges — which we call ‘Guitar-vana’ — and get the sounds he needs. It makes for a loud stage volume, about 112 dB on his side of the stage all the time, but at least the tone is good. It's not 112 dB of crap!”
Satriani travels between three pairs of Showco SRM wedge monitors, mixed through a Midas Heritage 3000 console by monitor engineer Bobby Diller. “The SRM wedges are the finest on the planet,” Diller claims. “They're one of the best things about my gig. They're very flat, and the more you give them, the better they sound.”