Neoclassical guitar shredder Yngwie Malmsteen took San Antonio's Tobin Center by force

click to enlarge At one point, Malmsteen encouraged fans to meet him at the front of the stage. - Oscar Moreno
Oscar Moreno
At one point, Malmsteen encouraged fans to meet him at the front of the stage.
It’s been two years since Yngwie Malmsteen last played in San Antonio, but on Sunday night, the Swedish metal maestro unleashed an onslaught of fleet-fingered fury at the Tobin Center.

The guitar god, who made his recorded debut some 40 years ago, released his newest album Parabellum on the July 23, and just like the name suggests, his arpeggios echoed through the auditorium as rapidly as gunshots.

After overly enthusiastic opening performances by father-daughter act Paralandra and “soul-healing metal” band Images of Eden, yellow lights illuminated Malmsteen's Marshall stacks. Fog streamed up from behind them. Then the leather-clad headliner, gold glittering at his wrists and fingers, took the stage with his scalloped Fender Strat. He kicked off the set with his signature opener “Rising Force” and was met with deafening cheers.

A few times, technical problems held back the relentless shredding of his performance. At one point, he even joked that his guitars were experiencing jet lag.

Despite those hiccups, however, it was apparent that Malmsteen remains the undisputed champion of metal’s neoclassical subgenre. The skill of his execution during new material from Parabellum was unwavering, and the crowd erupted in a standing ovation when he finished his first act with “Far Beyond the Sun” and the “Star Spangled Banner.”

Soon after, Malmsteen invited concertgoers to give up their seats and meet him at the front of the stage for his second set — something we assume is an unprecedented moment in the history of the Tobin’s H-E-B Performance Hall. The guitarist indulged the crowd by playing a cover of Deep Purple’s “Smoke on the Water” as well as a medley of tracks from his debut album Trilogy. He capped off his 23-song setlist with an extended acoustic intro to “Black Star,” and finally, “I’ll See the Light Tonight.”

Sunday’s concert offered plenty of sights to behold. Metalheads in leather wristbands enthusiastically took in the performance as they sat beside season ticket holders in opulent formal wear. Malmsteen's drummer, Brian Wilson, repped the host city by wearing an SA Slayer shirt onstage. Not mention, it was a thrill to see Yngwie fucking Malmsteen unleash the fury at the San Antonio Symphony’s home base.

At the end of the night, two things were certain: Malmsteen remains one of metal's finest, and San Antonio continues to hold it down as one of genre’s most supportive cities.

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