LIVE REVIEW: Generation Axe - Madison Wisconsin

Generation Axe does not represent an age group, it represents niche of true guitar fans. Generation Axe isn’t for everybody, but if it’s for you, then you were here. The Steve Vai lead and inspired supergroup featuring Tosin Abasi (Animals as Leaders), Nuno Bettencourt (Extreme, Rihanna), Zakk Wylde (Ozzy Osbourne, Black Label Society), Yngwie Malmsteen and Vai himself came to Madison Wisconsin to show us just how good they are…and we wanted to find out.

The mostly middle aged male crowd was fully prepared to have their minds blown. The five virtuosos came out playing Boston’s “Foreplay.” The show could have ended there and we would have gotten our money’s worth. It was like having sex with five of the most beautiful women at the same time. You couldn’t mess up. It didn’t matter where you looked you were looking at a legitimate Guitar God in every direction. To make matters even better, I’d never seen four of the five players live before.

The song was called “Foreplay” but it felt like full blown intercourse. After that song Tosin Abasi played a set. Abasi is the most unknown member of the group but he’s gaining a thousand fans every night of this tour. Nuno Bettencourt came out to jam with Abasi during his last song before going into “Get the Funk Out” followed by an Extreme medley. At one point Nuno sat down with an acoustic guitar and started playing “More Than Words” only to tell the crowd he was just kidding. Let’s be honest, I love that song but i didn’t come here to listen to a power ballad I came here to watch these guys shred and that’s exactly what I got.

The last song of Nuno’s set was joined by Zakk Wylde. Zakk was on stage for 45 minutes and played three songs and spent a solid ten minutes walking around the audience shredding. There were plenty of Black Label brothers in the crowd that night. This is where the show started to separate the guitar fans from the hard rock and heavy metal fans. Zakk solo’d a ton and it was amazing, but if you came to here a bunch of songs you were in the wrong place and potentially bored.

After Zakk, Yngwie Malmsteen came out for another 45 minutes. Yngwie has a completely different style from Zakk so that was a nice change of pace…if you’re into guitar solos. It was a three hour plus show of nonstop guitar porn. Steve Vai going Yngwie at the end of his set keep the momentum going. When Vai took the stage you quickly understood why this was his band and his tour. Vai kept a good pace before bringing the rest of the guys out to play Edgar Winter Group’s “Frankenstein” and Deep Purple’s “Highway Star.”

It was a night that I’ll never forget. I will repeat that this isn’t for everybody. At the end of the night my friend an I were debating who was the best player of the five. When it’s all said and done, all five of these guys are as good as it gets. All five of these guys have unique playing styles which is what kept the show from getting monotonous. It’s a five star show for the small niche audience and a two star show for those easily bored by talent.

Bob Zerull is the Managing Editor of Zoiks! Online. He writes pop culture commentary, does interviews with bands, and reviews music and stand-up concerts. He also administers Zoiks! Online's Facebook page. Follow Bob on twitter at bzerull. Email Bob at
Share |