JENNINGS: Yngwie Malmsteen counting his blessings

Yngwie Malmsteen is making his way back to Western New York for a Nov. 19 performance at Showplace Theater of Buffalo. (Courtesy of Yngwie Malmsteen.com)

On Friday, Nov. 19, guitarist extraordinaire Yngwie Malmsteen returns to Western New York for a performance at Showplace Theater of Buffalo.

Malmsteen rose to national prominence in 1984 with his first solo album, “Rising Force.

The Swedish born guitarist is always included in lists of the top rock rock guitarists of all-time and is a pioneer in the neoclassical metal genre. His latest album, “Parabellum,” dropped earlier this year and it is an excellent representation of his unique playing style.

Malmsteen is also known for his unique live performances. During a recent phone interview he discussed his approach to performing.

“We do the soundcheck, and I tell the guys to come into the dressing room to throw together the set list. We pick the songs, print them out and put them on the stage, and then I go on stage and play a different set list,” Malmsteen said.

“The way I keep things fresh is by being unpredictable. I improvise every time I play, even in the studio I record the solo off the cuff. I don’t do three or four takes, I record it and walk away.

“I’m like a wild coyote on stage, I am always trying to impress myself. If I had to play everything note-for-note, I would have hung it up a long time ago.”

Now that Malmsteen has amassed more than 20 studio albums, he has a lot of material to draw from, making each performance a unique experience.

“Years ago I recorded two nights, one in Orlando and one in Tampa and I put them both out. One was a live video and the other was a live album. They were one night apart and everything was different.”

“There are some staples, like opening up with “Rising Force” but all of the solos and all the acoustic cadences, they are different every night. The best show I do is the show that I am doing that night. I never accept second best, I am a crazy man that way, and I have been that way since I was a child.”

In addition to his love of performing, Malmsteen is known for his love of high-end vehicles. He not only loves playing fast licks, he loves fast cars and often, he finds inspiration while he is driving.

“I am a complete Ferarri freak. When I am in my car I hear things differently, which is very valuable. There have been songs that I have changed dramatically after I have listened to it in the car.”

One of the standout tracks on “Parabellum” is “Eternal Bliss.” It’s one of Malmsteen’s favorites. The song’s lyrics are personal, and in them Malmsteen expresses thanks to God for finding “eternal bliss.”

“I love all the songs on the new album, but that one has a special place in my heart. Most of my lyrics are symbolic, but that one comes from another place.”

Yngwie seems to be at a great place, and looking forward to returning to Buffalo, and is thankful for the opportunity to do what he loves for a living.

“Basically, I am the most grateful man alive. You can call it God, or whatever. I can’t even find the right word to describe how grateful I am able to do what I do. Sure, there have been some bad times, but don’t dwell on them. I have a beautiful wife, a beautiful house and a wonderful son. For 40 years I have been doing my thing and people are still listening. I pinch myself. I was just some kid from Sweden. All I have to say is God Bless America.”

Thom Jennings covers the local music scene for Night and Day.

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