A Long Night of Rock Heaven as Joe Satriani, John Petrucci
and Paul Gilbert Wrap Up 2007 Tour in the Garden State!
A SoundPress.net Feature Article by Rich and Laura Lynch
Joe Satriani is a dynamic and experimental guitar player whose personal influences included the masterful guitar greats Jimi Hendrix, Jimmy Page and Jeff Beck. Joe's colorful compositions are steeped in the blues and rock but also draw from a wide range of genres and innovations. Satch, a former guitar instructor, hit it big in 1987 with the his second full length record Surfing With The Alien. This incredible instrumental album secured Joe's place as a guitar hero. Since then, Satriani has sold millions of records and has been nominated thirteen times for a Grammy. He also has created the long running G3 rock summit, which has featured many contemporary guitar masters over the years. The 2007 version concluded a month-long series of dates at the Starland Ballroom in Sayreville, New Jersey on April 14, 2007, with a blistering four-hour show that was loaded with licks and rife with riffs.
Joe Satriani headlines the twelfth version of the G3 extravaganza!
Satriani's G3 (guitar summit) started in 1996 with the first tour featuring Joe Satriani, Eric Johnson and Steve Vai. The shows were very successful worldwide and have continued ever since in various configurations that showcase guitar players who have the ability to shred and share the spotlight. The format of G3 is that each guitarist plays a set of their own material before joining Satriani and his band for an All-Star jam featuring all three headliners.
John Petrucci and Paul Gilbert were on the G3 bill with Joe for the Spring Tour of 2007. This was Gilbert's first G3 and Petrucci's sixth. John started playing guitar at age twelve. He was heavily influenced by hard rock with exposure to jazz and harmony at Berklee College of Music. Petrucci is well known for his work in Dream Theater along with projects beyond the band.
Paul Gilbert is much respected for his work in Racer X and Mr. Big. He left Mr. Big in 1996 to pursue a solo career and various projects including guitar instruction. Paul is admired for his speedy, versatile guitar style and was a stellar addition to the G3 lineup.
The floor was packed and anticipation was high at Starland Ballroom with a mainly male crowd ranging in ages from under twenty-one to over fifty. Paul Gilbert came out fronting a five piece band that raised the rock bar high with heavy riffs in a guitar dual with former Racer X band-member Bruce Bouillet. The fighting energy of "Get Out of My Yard" set the tone for the rest of Paul's eleven song set. Many of the instrumentals featured fast and furious guitar leads layered over heavy rhythms. At times and throughout all three sets, the room was shaking with the power of the drums and the scorching guitars.
"Rusty Old Boat" had a catchy hook from the very start, building up strength as it progressed into a hard rock format. The music was aggressive yet the playing proficient. The majority of Gilbert's set was instrumental but Paul did sing on the classic and innovative "Spaceship One" and kept things rocking with the melodic lead from "To Be With You". Gilbert, the most charismatic showman of the three, performed a good mix of past and present songs. Paul is a fast, tight player who punctuates his phrasing with precise notes. The addition of a second guitar added to the dynamic of the music and Paul and his accomplished band played their frenzied set with flair.
Paul Gilbert joined G3 as a full-time featured player in 2007!
John Petrucci fronted a power trio with Dave LaRue on bass and the able and animated Mike Portnoy on drums. John started off his six song set with the haunting and very heavy "Jaws of Life". The crowd responded to the deep dark rhythms with devil horns held high. John has an interesting style as many of his compositions are hard hitting but his textures and tones can be light as proven on the well-played "Lost Without You". John's compositions are complex and allow plenty of room for explosive guitar wailing, thunderously bold bass lines, and intricate interplay among members. Portnoy provided even more pizzazz as he powerfully pounded his kit while tossing and twirling his sticks without missing a beat.
John's set was a skillful mix of mostly heavy songs with a few jams that alternated from somewhat melodic leads to more dramatic, metal structures. Another surprise was "Glasgow Kiss", which combined brawny licks with spirited, jigging guitar leads. Scottish dancers comprised of road crew and Gilbert's band came out dressed in kilts - quickly entering and exiting the stage after a few musical bars - for a last night of the tour musical prank. Petrucci's power packed set closed with "Damage Control", which was a dynamic and dark piece that showcased John's breakneck approach to progressive guitar.
After another set change, the crowd started chanting "Joe, Joe, Joe". Satriani came out strong with "War" firing out sizzling leads as the whole band backed him full throttle. Satch is well known for his speed and broad range of techniques from tapping to whammy bar. "One Big Rush" was just that - a rush of power chords and driving rhythms. "Flying In A Blue Dream" was colorful with a blend of dynamic leads, pedal effects and innovative techniques. Joe's band is tight providing ample support for Joe to soar.
Next, Joe introduced the band and thanked people for coming to the last show of the tour. "Cool #9" featured old school blues combined with the scratch effect and explorative techniques and tempos with a few notes played with his teeth. There was plenty of jamming during Joe's career spanning set and "Supercolossal" was notably super! "Satch Boogie" was smoking with more far-out fret work and effects. "Circles" started off slow and smooth but quickly picked up momentum before moving into the explosive and spacy "Mystical Potato Head".
"Ice 9" was a hard hitting, rhythm heavy tune filled with stellar innovations and leads. The band was on fire adding thrust to Joe's high octane set that finished with the classic "Surfing With The Alien" and "Always With Me".
The climax of the concert was the G3 Summit - the melding of the three guitar gods on one stage. The first jam was intense, almost a sensory overload with Joe, John and Paul playing power chords and numerous notes. The exchange was an ingenious musical dialog bordering on the diabolical. The G3 tribute to the Master of the Stratocaster (Hendrix) was also great. "Foxy Lady" was smoking with all three players contributing blistering leads. "Purple Haze" was mesmerizing with ferocious soloing and a gratuitous trading of licks resulting in an extended jam that forayed into "Voodoo Chile" before concluding the set with even more explosive guitar and rhythm work to close the G3 2007 experience on an extremely high note.
Dream Theater's John Petrucci is a G3 veteran!
(Originally Published on April 19, 2007)
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