Chickenfoot: Great F-ing Show in NYC

May 29, 2009 | By | 1 Reply More

Update: A walk-through of Joe Satriani’s pedalboard here


What would you do if you were just diagnosed with borderline walking peneumonia, hadn’t been getting enough sleep, lived a good hour outside of swine-flu New York City – and a buddy got tickets to see Chickenfoot at the Fillmore in NYC?

You would freakin’ go! So I did, last night. Overall review of the show: GREAT.

And really, how could it not be? It was great just seeing Joe Satriani, Sammy Hagar and Michael Anthony on stage at the same time. Chad Smith was sort of an unknown to me, but not anymore. I can see why the other guys dig playing with him so much. Anyhow, on to the full review.

The Show

When’s the last time you had a great time seeing a band even though you hadn’t heard 80% of the songs before? For me, I think the answer is never. This was a first.

Also for me, the songs weren’t the best part of the show. The songs definitely are rockers in the Classic rock vein. They’re good songs, they make you want to tap your foot, maybe sing the chorus and all of that – and I’m not taking that for granted, believe me. But the best part of the show was the energy the band has.

No one on that stage was happier than anyone else up there. They were all smiling, all having fun, all playing their asses off.


It was very interesting to see Joe playing in a band with a singer, playing more of a support role. He looked comfortable doing it, and just like everyone else in the band seemed very psyched just to be a part of it.

The best parts about his playing for me were two things: 1) his fills and 2) his “dexterity,” for lack of a better word.

Because he’s Joe Satriani and knows the fingerboard backwards and forwards, his fills were really interesting. The fills “sounded like Joe” – which everyone should expect because he has a distinct style. And it was really cool to see what he would pull out here and there in songs vs. doing it “all the time” fronting his own instrumental band.

What I mean by his dexterity – we all know he can do incredible things on the guitar, but it’s rare these days that you see a band, let alone a band of guys “this age,” with a guitar player who can do anything he wants on the instrument without struggling a little. Joe could do it all – and again, you’d expect him to, but in the band setting it’s different, if you get my drift.

Tone-wise, Joe had a vocal-like sound similar to his solo stuff. He played through his singature Peavey JSX amps (120-watt heads), half-stacks, and had a pedalboard which I assume was the same as the one pictured here. [Update: According to the video linked to above, he has 25-watt Celestion greenbacks in his cab, not the 100-watts-per-speaker JSX speakers standard in JSX cabs.] He used lots of Joe-like effects. The POG-driven organ sounds on the last tune of the night (for more, see Covers below) were awesome.


(To see the whole board, right-click on the image, choose View Image.)

He played Ibanezes, of course. His main guitar was white with the Chickenfoot logo in black, and appeared where I was to be a regular Strat-sized boy instead of jis JS-sized body, and looked to have a real Floyd Rose bridge – but I couldn’t swear to that and probably am mistaken.

He also used an Ibanez doubleneck (both guitars had whammys!) for this really cool New Orleans blues-type song – apparently not ont he forthcoming CD but Sammy hinted will be available for download free – and a couple other JS guitars. To me, the guitar that sounded the best was his Chrome Boy guitar.

> Joe is so stoked about the band that he made sure his 80-plus-year-old mother was there (Joe is from Long Island originally).


To quote Joe, Michael Anthony is F-ing great. He just is. He’s the bass player you would want to play with, the one you’d want in your band, the guy you’d want to hang out with. Always has been, as any long-time Van halen fan would know.

He’s just the MVP. You know he’s going to play well, hold down the bottom, not make a mistake, flow with the changes. You know he’s going to sing great. You know he’s going to bring a great positive energy to the experience. That’s Mike.

He brought it all, and everyone there was happy to see it.

It was great to hear Mike’s voice and to see him play again.

Did I say it was great?!

> Mike did break out the Jack Daniels bass for a few tunes. Otherwise it was all his signature Yamahas. And it looked like he was playing through Peavey cabs.


Sammy Hagar is 61 years old, and will turn 62 this year. The guy seems like he’s in his 40s.

He’s in good shape, jumps around on stage the same as he always has and can sing like a MFer. He sang his butt off last night. At the end of the 2-plus-hour show it sounded like he didn’t quite get up to a a few notes, but most singers couldn’t even hit those notes at the beginning of a show! Very impressive.

Sammy is a great front man, and really impressed my buddy who’d neer seen him live.

He bantered with the audience, told a couple of funny stories – he’s been doing this practically his whole life so he’s probably more comfortable on stage than walking down the street!

His knack for singable melodies also is all over the tunes.

One of the best singers in rock.

> Gear-wise, he only played guitar the last two three songs: what looked like a Gibson Explorer (red, of course) and a lap steel for the intro to Bad Motor Scooter – both through his preferred amp of choice: Crate Red Voodoo.


Chad Smith’s drumming was a revelation to me. Yes, I’ve heard the Red Hot Chili Peppers and their tunes, and like some of them. I’ve also dug some of the energy in their tunes, but maybe the off-key singing distracted me. Whatever the case, it wasn’t evident to me how good Chad is until I saw him live.

He’s full of energy, and looks like he’s trying to have fun all the time. I think it’s that sense of fun which leads him to pretty regularly mess around with the beat, try new stuff, interact with the other guys – no just plain ol’ drumming.

A couple of examples were one time Joe was playing a series of triplets in an extended lead, and Chad started punching the triplets on the kick drum and doing something complementary with his hands (can’t remember) – sounded so cool that Joe whipped around with a big smile on his face, like, “Yeah!”

Another time Joe and Sammy were trading leads – Sammy said, “I feel brave tonight, Joe” – near the end of the show, and Chad started playing off the lines the guys were playing.

Just cool stuff, and of course Mike kept up no problem.

Chad also hits the skins hard, which I like.


Everyone expected Satch, Hagar and RHCP cover tunes. Some hoped for a Van Halen cover, but I doubted it would happen. Turned out that even in 2-plus hours, there were few covers.

The only tunes they covered by people in the band were an RHCP tune (not sure which?) I’m going to say about a third of the way through the set, and then Montrose’s Bad Motor Scooter as the second-to-last encore. That’s it.

Joe did pull out some Bridge of Sighs riffage during one jam, but it wasn’t the full song.

The last tune also was a cover, and it was one of the best tunes of the night: Highway Star, by Deep Purple. Completely unexpected, and absolutely spectacular.

First of all, it’s a great song. Second, a great band covered it. And third, Joe nailed the keyboard parts, including the solo, using his Electro-Harmonix POG (judge for yourself at this YouTube link). Just stunning stuff.

Bottom Line

The bottom line was that there was a ton of energy on stage, all of it positive, and the guys looked like they were having a lot of fun with each other and their instruments. No posing, no substance abuse, no BS.

Lots of interaction with each other – not just smiling, but also instrumental. I’d bet that the CD won’t do justice to that, but it’s all there live.

Lots of great positive energy to and from the audience. The show was sold out, the venue packed.

This is the band many of us would like to be in, or at least see. Glad I did. The ‘foot is off to Europe next – don’t miss them my European brothers! When they’re back in the States, I’ll be seeing them again.

Word is the CD is due out next week, June 5, the same night they will be on the Conan show, I believe.

Go ‘foot!

Category: Chickenfoot, Ibanez, Joe Satriani, Live Shows, Peavey, Sammy Hagar

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