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G3 (Satriani, Malmsteen, Vai) Live in Reno

By Tokemaster General, Contributor
Monday, October 27, 2003 @ 8:44 PM


G3, Featuring Satriani, Malmst

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REVIEW BY: Ken Hower

Joe Satriani's brainchild, G3, rolled into Reno last weekend. It was everything I thought it would be… billions of notes in 2.5 hours.

First of all… the sound was AWFUL. The Hilton indoor theater was great... but the sound man needed a lot of help. You could not hear one cymbal crash through the PA... I could only hear them on stage from my seat. Pretty sad... this was for all 3 bands, so it wasn't any drummer's fault. Hopefully that will get fixed in future shows.

First up, Yngwie J. Malmsteen. Exactly as I expected... a complete caricature in real life. He danced, pranced, flipped picks, tossed guitars and played alone most of the 40 minutes in his pleather pants and elf boots, while his keyboard player, bass player and drummer... stood and watched. They would interject stuff every so often... but it was 60% YJM alone, 20% backing track, 20% with band. He was visually flashy, very entertaining to watch and he clearly has amazing chops... but personally, I thought his songs were the weaker of the 3 guitarists. I was also surprised that his tone wasn't all that great. At first, I thought the venue maybe contributing to the problem, but after hearing Vai and Satch, it was clear it was Yngwie's issue. Surprising, since he felt compelled to fill the stage with 5 full-size Marshall stack cabinets, topped by 2 Marshall heads per stack. That's 10 cabinets, 40 speakers, 10 heads and 1000 watts for those of you counting at home. Someone making up for some sort of inadequacy? Of course selling shirts that said, "YNGWIE WHO? YNGWIE F$%^%^ MALMSTEEN THAT'S WHO" doesn't help.

Steve Vai was great. His band was incredible. He had Billy Sheehan on bass, Dave Weiner on guitar, Jeremy Colson on drums and Tony MacAlpine on Keys and guitar. The band was tight as you'd expect with a lineup like that. Vai was the most innovative and personally my favorite guitar player to watch. His songs were way better than Yngwie's, but not as strong on Satch's... but his guitar playing was fantastic. This was all validated by the crowd at large, who were clearly more into Steve's music than Yngwie's. His solo with Tony MacAlpine was worth the price of admission.

Joe Satriani. Technically, not in the league of Yngwie or Vai (student passed master) in my opinion. But I still enjoyed Satch's songs the best. As always... great melodies... cool solos. I would much rather pop in a Satriani CD than anyone there. I think album sales prove that to be the case of many. Joe had KILLER TONE... I could listen to him all day. The crowd was really into Joe, making him the definitive crowd favorite.

Watching the grand finale, it was funny to see Yngwie prancing around, jumping in front of Vai or Satriani during solo's. Clearly, Yngwie was sure in his own mind that he's WAY better than those guys. Cracked me up. The best part was the end of “La Grange,” watching Yngwie throw his guitar 10 feet in the air, only to miss it and have it land on the stage. Yngwie's reaction? Toss it to a roadie, have a drink and toss your hands into the air like Barnum Bailey and bow.

Show over.

All in all, if you really want to see guitar playing at it's best, then G3 is the show to attend. You will not walk out feeling you missed hearing any notes on the guitar. Let's hope next year Satriani and Vai bring along someone like Paul Gilbert who can shred with the best of them, but still bring along quality songs.



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