About a year ago I discovered Joe Stump. One of his albums was in a sales bin and as I had heard of the guy by some other guitar players I figured it might be worth checking out.

I was blown away. Joe coupled everything I liked about Yngwie Malmsteen while staying true to a rather more strictly neoclassical instrumental approach. So I was greatly pleased when a European tour happened in October and November, especially after an earlier tour having been cancelled. I wanted to see for myself if this guy was a fast as it was claimed he was, and if his tunes would remain standing live.

De Druppel is not a concert venue at all, but a pub. A small stage was erected at the far end, where we were going to see Joe Stump perform, assisted by monster bassist Barend Courbois and Gorefest drummer Ed Warby. A singer had been brought along, too, to perform the vocal songs off Joe's "Reign of Terror" album. I have to admit that I didn't mind too much when the singer discovered, during the first song, to have completely lost his voice. So the gig went on instrumentally.

Not a soul complained :-)

Don't ask me which songs Joe played, even though I did study the setlist that was taped to the floor right before me. I was too occupied keeping my jaws together as I witnessed awesome guitar playing up close - and I mean up close. Although at times perhaps mimicing Yngwie's stage act a little bit too much (though he tossed only one guitar pick), he kept my eyes glued in particular to his left hand. He played so fast his fingers literally became a blur, and he made incredibly precise jumps of up to 12 frets at a similar - i.e. blow-awayingly awesome - speed. As he progressed through song after song of guitar showmanship I became more and more convinced that I was seeing one of the fastest and most precise guitarists alive. And the cool thing is that the songs are not just vehicles for solos, rather they are downright heavy and immensely enjoyable.

Anti-climax of the evening was the fact that, just as the first half of the gig had ended, I had to check out again in order to catch my last bus home. The second section of the gig had a Rainbow medley and probably quite a few other jaw-dropping guitar runs...perhaps it was for the best that I didn't witness it all, or my own guitar playing ambitions would have been destroyed forever.



Written November 1998


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