For those of you who like a bit of rock ‘n’ roll guitar
played at 100 mph with loads of whammy bar, stretched licks, and five hundred
notes played a second, when a mere mortal would struggle to get fifty into the
same time frame, the sort of guitar playing that is only possible by some of
the world’s greatest gurners, then this is the album for you.
Back in the year 2000, Joe Satriani, Steve Vai, and Eric
Johnson went out on the road in the United States of America doing what can
only be described as guitar workshops in rock ‘n’ roll. Each artist had his
own band with him and would do an hour’s set, followed every night by the G3
Jam, where all three guitarists would get up on the same stage, giving full
reign to a three way guitar battle. Magnificent stuff.
Then in 2003 they did it again. This time we still get
Satriani and Vai, but the very talented but uncharismatic Eric Johnson had been
replaced by the equally talented, but way over the top exuberance of Sweden’s
favourite rock ‘n’ roll son, Yngwie Malsteen. The results are explosive to
say the least.
The first CD of this double CD package is broken up into
three parts, where we get a twenty minute section from each artist. First up is
Joe Satriani. Quite right that is, too. After all he is the senior guitarist.
Satriani sets a remarkably high standard of twiddle for the others to follow.
Sticking to basically greatest hits formula, he attacks the frets with the
enthusiasm of a teenager. The man is the master of his chosen instrument, even
giving us a taste of his acoustic playing on ‘Midnight’, which gives great
balance to his segment of the CD.
Completely undaunted by this first set, Steve Vai takes to
the stage with a lineup that most people only dream of. Apart from his playing
powers, Vai’s confidence levels must be at an all time high to bring this lot
on tour with him. (However, I suppose being a Frank Zappa prot้g้
must help.) Sharing the stage with Vai are Jeremy Colson on drums; Dave Weiner
on rhythm guitar (now do not forget that this guy plays lead guitar in his own
band); and then on bass guitar is none other than the five time winner of
Guitar Magazine’s ‘Bass Guitarist of the Year’, Billy Sheehan, ex of
‘Mr. Big’, etc. Sheehan played with Steve Vai for a couple of albums and
toured with David Lee Roth when he put together a super group after his
departure from Van Halen.
Then on second lead guitar and keyboards Steve Vai has gone
for the talents of Tony MacAlpine. Tony MacAlpine would be worthy of a place in
the G3 lineup on his own ability. Just take a listen to any of his solo albums
for proof, ‘Edge of Insanity’ (1986) being probably the pick of the bunch.
Hearing these three superstars jousting musically at the front of the stage is
a real treat to the ears. Let’s hope that some record company suit has the
intelligence to release the full segment of the show from this lineup on a
Whereas both Satriani and Malmsteen split their sections
into five parts, Vai sticks to three, giving his band plenty of space to
breathe life into their music.
There is only one way for Yngwie Malmsteen to go after that,
and that is pull all the stops and let it all hang out, which he does with
spectacular effect, dispensing with a large band. He comes on with a stripped
down trio, Patrick Johannson on drums and Jocke Svalberg on keyboards. However,
their role is purely to support this guitar genius. He opens with the aptly
named ‘Blitzkrieg’ before leading us through his complete repertoire,
partly classically influenced, but with a lot of Blackmore and Hendrix mixed
in. His version of ‘Red House’ gives the governor a run for his money. If
Malmsteen’s set leaves you breathless, as it should, wait till you open CD
On disc two you get thirty minutes of all three guitarists
on stage, all trying to outshine each other. It’s anybody’s guess which
star sparkles the brightest. But if you have your air guitar handy, grab it.
You’ll need it to join this lot on stage in your mind. Again Hendrix is given
a huge nod of respect as they start out with two of his classic songs before
they all rip into the final number, Neil Young’s ‘Rockin in the Free
World’. This leads to a final battle to see who can get the last notes in.
They may be trying to outplay each other, but you can still feel the friendship
and respect for each other shining through the grooves of your disc.
The original idea for G3 was supposed to have included
Dweezil Zappa with Steve Vai and Joe Satriani, but prior commitments made this
impossible for Zappa, so Eric Johnson stepped in. May I suggest that Dweezil
Zappa makes time (listen to his album ‘Automatic’ (2000) for an idea of
what Frank Zappa’s son can do with a guitar in his hand) so that the next
time these three decide to go out on the road together, they invite Dweezil
along and give us G4.The mind positively boggles.
If you like this CD, there is also a DVD of a different
concert from this tour with different set lists, so you can fill your ears and
your eyes if you so desire. Three brilliant young men caught at the top of
their game. Enjoy.