On October 12, 1989, Yngwie Malmsteen released the album "Trial by Fire: Live in Leningrad".
Recorded during several shows in St. Petersburg (formerly Leningrad) in February 1989, the album summarizes Yngwie Malmsteen's peak era, which includes his first four solo albums, released between 1984-1988.
The virtuoso guitarist comes to this tour at his peak, after the release of the most successful album of his career "Odyssey". The lineup accompanying him on this tour is also one of the favorites, including singer Joe Lynn Turner and the brothers Jens Johansson (keyboards) and Anders Johansson (drums).
It is unbelievable that less than two years earlier, Yngwie Malmsteen was at a personal and creative low, with his future uncertain. In 1987 his mother passed away after a battle with cancer. In addition, he was involved in a very serious car accident. He became unconscious and when he woke up from his coma about a week later, he discovered that he had nerve damage in his right hand, putting a big question mark on his ability to play again.
Whoever listens to or watches (the concert was also released on video) Yngwie Malmsteen's performance in this concert, will simply not believe that not long before Yngwie was swinging between life and death with serious damage to his right hand. This adds to Yngwie's tremendous achievement in this album, making him one of the greatest neoclassical "shredders" of all time.
In this performance, Yngwie manages to reach a phenomenal level of playing and precision. For moments you don't even believe that you are actually not listening to a studio version but a live version of a certain song. Moreover, there are quite a few sections during the performance in which Yngwie surpasses even the studio versions with energetic and passionate performances. It's not new that Malmsteen is the type of guitarist who just blossoms on stage, but what's amazing is that the "electricity in the air" manages to pass well when listening to the album, even without the need to watch the video version. We don't know why, but it seems that you can feel Malmsteen burning up the stage, just by listening to his playing style and the audience's reactions.
Those who are familiar with the first four studio albums of Yngwie, know that there are quite a few guitar channels and guitar layers. Malmsteen manages to fill this void with the help of the harmonies played by keyboardist Jens Johansson, as can be clearly heard at minute 2:20 of the instrumental track "Black Star", taken from the debut album "Rising Force".
You know that part at concerts when the band presents a remake of a certain song and you really expect to hear something that will be the closest to the studio version? So in this album, Malmsteen manages to keep the DNA of the studio versions, while still keeping a lot of room for improvisation. This can be heard, among other things, during the solo of the song "You Don't Remember, I'll Never Forget". Yngwie manages to combine the melody of the song "L'amour est bleu", which was performed for the first time at the Eurovision Song Contest in 1967 by the singer Vicky Landrus who represented Luxembourg, and also a section from the solo of his spiritual father Ritchie Blackmore, in the song "Strange Kind Of Woman", as played in the "Made In Japan" concert version. This also happens in the intro to the instrumental track "Far Beyond the Sun" to which Yngwie plays "Adagio" by the Italian composer Tomaso Albinoni, as well as in the intro of the great song "Dreaming (Tell Me)", where Yngwie manages to incorporate a section of Bach's "Fugue in G Minor". This addition is apparently so loved by Malmsteen that he chose to record it on his 15th studio album "Unleash the Fury", where it will be called "Fuguetta".
We hold the opinion that Yngwie Malmsteen should focus on playing the guitar. We're not so fond of the fact that lately he's been taking on the role of the lead singer in the band, both on studio albums and live shows. However, we have to admit that his singing skills on this album aren't bad. There are quite a few parts where he accompanies Joe Lynn Turner, but for moments he also takes the lead such as the screams in the opening song "Liar" or in the performance of the song "Spanish Castle Magic" by Jimi Hendrix which closes the album.
And if we've already mentioned Joe Lynn Turner, then we have to mention his amazing abilities and the fact that he fits very nicely into the shoes of Mark Boals, performing three songs from the album "Trilogy" (four if you count "Fury" which is only included in the video version). It's not always easy to perform another singer's songs and Lynn Turner knows this perhaps better than anyone else. As you certainly remember, his attempt to step into Ian Gillan's shoes on the concert tour designed to promote the album "Slaves and Masters" by "Deep Purple" did not go well. However, even though Turner has a lower natural vocal range than Mark Boals, he handles the screams much better than him and sometimes even seems to be able to perform his songs better than the original. We do not need to mention the songs from "Odyssey". Joe Lynn Turner is in his home territory singing them. These are songs that he co-wrote and they fit him like a glove, so his confidence allows him to let loose a little and introduce a little more roughness and power compared to the studio versions.
In our humble opinion, the live album "Trial by Fire: Live in Leningrad" marks a turning point in Yngwie Malmsteen's career. It's not like he wouldn't release excellent studio albums after that. It's also not that he will lose his amazing level of performance, as you know he will still record the crazy "Concerto Suite for Electric Guitar and Orchestra in E flat minor". But in our opinion, when the cohesive and tight lineup that accompanied Yngwie Malmsteen left the stage after the tour ended, it was never the same again. The classic lineup of "Rising Force" with Malmsteen and the Johansson brothers dissolved later that year, when Anders and Jens left it. Jens joined Ronnie James Dio, Anders would join "Blue Murder" and Joe Lynn Turner would join "Deep Purple" for the recording of the "Slaves and Masters" album, leaving Yngwie to search for an entirely new line-up to accompany him. So that was it. Something got lost there along the way. After the disintegration of "Rising Force", the revolving door of musicians around the maestro, talented as they may be, failed to fill the void left.
This time we decided to attach a link for the full performance so that you can also witness the miracle with your own eyes: