Nothing will prepare you for the awesomeness that is Joe Satriani, John Petrucci and Phil Collen jamming on stage together.
Joining Joe Satriani’s most epic G3 Tour (probably), was Dream Theater guitarist John Petrucci and Def Leppard guitarist Phil Collen at the Warner Theatre on Valentine’s Day, February 14th.
Joe founded the G3 Tour as a showcase for ‘3’ guitarists to tour together and he reminded us just how long he’s been doing it as they closed out the set with a cover of “I’m Going Down” by The Alabama State Troopers, ‘We played this at the first G3 in ’96.’
Each of the three legendary guitarists played a set before the show culminated into a three cover song opus that brought the house down.
Phil Collen kicked off the evening with the band Delta Deep, which he started in 2012 as ‘an extreme blues band’. In addition to Phil on guitar, the lead singer is Debbi Blackwell-Cook, who came back on stage during the final three covers to bare her soul, belting the lead vocals. She must have been channeling Joe Satriani, because she was rocking a shiny, clean-shaven dome.
John Petrucci then came out to perform with a backing band, including fellow member of Dream Theater, drummer Mike Mangini. His set focused mostly on the metal guitar riffs he plays for Dream Theater, but he did play one ‘happy song’, aptly titled “Glassy-eyed Zombies”.
Little did the packed Warner Theatre crowd realize we would walk away with 3-1/2 hours of unrelenting guitar jams under our belts. The audience skewed older, but I did see one kid (10 to 12 years old) in the lobby and later jumping up and down in the first row. Cool parents.
The place vibrated and throbbed throughout, to the point were you could feel the more extreme riffs crawling on your face. Each set used the backdrop of a giant screen with incredible imagery like mountains and the universe and cherry blossoms, each likely designed to hypothesize large groups of people into music-loving glassy-eyed zombies.
My favorite was during Joe’s set, where a live feed displayed the contours of him and his backing band in bright red outlines, on a rich blue background. Maybe I still haven’t snapped out of it.
Joe Satriani played 12 songs during his main set. He focused on his recently released 16th album, What Happens Next, playing six songs, including the single “Energy”. Other standouts were “Cherry Blossoms” and “Thunder High On the Mountain”, where he busted out his frenetic cherry red guitar while imagery of thunder and lightning crackled and pulsed in the background and the riff took you along for the ride. “Cherry Blossoms” is a smoother, almost jazzy song, with a tranquil melody and slow beat, before punching up the tempo halfway through.
Of course, Joe did play a few of his classics, like “Satch Boogie” and “Always With Me, Always With You”, which he dedicated to the audience, as he couldn’t do this without us. Thanks Joe! He ended his main set with “Summer Song”, eliciting all those present into standing formation for another bout of epic rock. He played a silver guitar so shiny it reflected harsh beams of light into the glassy-eyed crowd.
At last the three guitarists, Debbi and some backing band members returned to play the encore. No one sat. They performed three covers, Deep Purple’s “Highway Star”, Stevie Wonder’s “Superstition” and the aforementioned “I’m Going Down”. Debbi gamely sang her heart out, yet there were certain moments the guitars simply drowned out her resonant voice. Hard to do, but also hard to doubt that three blazing guitars would go quietly into the night.
If you’ve missed the G3 Tour so far (this was my first), and you’re a fan of rock and riffs, you owe it yourself to check it out. The ‘3’ rotates each year that Joe puts on the tour, but many guitarists are repeat offenders, for example this was John Petrucci’s seventh time joining, while it was Phil’s first time.
Joe Satriani’s Setlist
Thunder High On the Mountain
Super Funky Badass
Always With Me, Always With You
Drum Solo (Joe Travers on drums)
G3 Part with John Petrucci and Phil Collen
Highway Star (Deep Purple cover)
Superstition (Stevie Wonder cover)
I’m Going Down (The Alabama State Troopers cover)