G3: Yngwie Malmsteen, Joe Satriani & Steve Vai
Show Review : 10.24.2003
G3 Tour – solid, entertaining musical extravaganza and the return of Yngwie!
Yngwie Malmsteen opened the G3 2003 festivities. Yngwie still exudes plenty of energy and plays his guitar in an effortlessly fast manner, his trademark constant throwing of his custom Fender YJM Stratocaster over his shoulder several times per song, round and round his waist and never missing a note was entertaining to watch. As Yngwie doesn’t tour in the United States that often, it was great to see Yngwie put his ego aside and just have fun on this tour and bring out the best in his fellow G3 participants. I hope that his participation in G3 indicates a desire to tour more and rebuild fan base as he’s still got it and his songs from his 80’s heyday have weathered time quite well.
Next up was Steve Vai. Steve opened the show by casually walking onto the stage, sans introduction, got comfy in a chair and began playing his Ibanez Jem triple neck guitar(The first neck is a 12-string, the second neck is basically a Jem guitar set-up with a whammy bar, and the third neck is a fretless). He started playing a slow, basic and easy to listen to melodic grove, which was then played in a continuous loop as Steve continued to play on with other variations. This was similar to rhythm guitar track recording but it was live onstage. Just when you think it couldn’t get any better he would continue to add more layers and textures to this already busy yet symphonic mix as only Vai can execute at this level. In other words he kept playing and looping more with each verse and mixing more melodies as he went on. He played samples of his trademark sounds such as celestial booming from the 12 string neck and other heavenly sounds enhanced by Vai’s whammy styles on the second neck, while ascending arpeggios on the fretless neck. Vai was then joined by his bandmates, Tony McAlpine who is a keyboard/guitar virtuoso in his own right and Billy Sheehan on bass, who has toured with numerous awesome bands, added to the monstrosity of Vai’s band.
“For the Love of God” has always been an audience favorite at Vai’s shows, previous G3 tours, and was on the current tour as well. Everyone in the Riveria recognized the tune within the first few notes and the crowd went wild as Steve mesmerized the audience. As the crowd appeared enamored and wanting more, Steve played an extended version and did not disappoint the riff hungry crowd, he is definitely a guitar player’s dream to see and hear. His playing techniques, style, sounds, and emotion brought forth are immeasurable. Last but not least, the spinning of the whammy bar (windmill style) as he worked his magic and complex wizardry on the fretboard was definitely a plus, and a must-see live. Holding the beautiful White Gem, Steve suspended his axe in mid air (as the illusion would have it), holding it only by the glistening gold hardware of the whammy bar, as he let it ascend from below waist length all the way up to eye level, as the sound pleasantly sustained and resonated throughout the arena. I was mildly surprised that Steve did not pimp that great things going on at his Favored Nations label with such a captive audience as most fans in the audience are still unaware of it based on my informal poll. Maybe next time.
Joe Satriani played such classics as “Crystal Planet”, “Flying in a Blue Dream”, “Always With You Always With Me”, etc. Albeit safe to say his vocal days are behind him for now, while omitting some of the vocal tunes such as Big Bad Moon, which was absent on this evening, he concentrated on his sound more. When he played “Midnight” the band took a break and left JS onstage alone as the single light was on him and he played his two handed tapping techniques throughout the entire song. Then Joe said “We’re gonna play something really nice for you, this one’s called “Starry Night” and he played exceptionally well accenting and emphasizing the notes, and squeezing the midrange tones out of his guitar. While Joe was sporting his casual Abercrombie and Fitch look, he chatted with the crowd jokingly between songs about how his bluish-green clothing clashed with his Flaming red flame top custom colored guitar. “I just noticed my guitar doesn’t match what I’m wearing, but it’s nothing that PhotoShop can’t fix and take care of later on!” Joe appeared to be having fun.
Then what everyone was waiting for, all three to be on stage at once! Being the big Jimi Hendrix fan that Yngwie is, he chose to play homage by doing a righteous cover of “Voodoo Child (Slight Return)” with Joe & Steve. Yngwie can actually do vocals halfway decent, and sounds best vocalizing with attitude and his tough guy presence and riffs to back it up, which complete the whole persona. Time virually stood still during their version of “Little Wing”, led by Steve Vai. This was a slow one for the boys to play and they did it with excellence and fine craftsmanship. The capstone of the evening was when they played “Rockin’ in the Free World” as they covered this pop tune, and they look like they all had a fun time with it as Steve and Yngwie stood side by side and rocked their guitars in perfect synch with each other as they playfully pounded out the rhythm. I really loved this rich, thick sound that these songs created! It would be great to see more songs performed together, maybe even half of the show and playing together on each others songs. Sure this would take more practice time at the start of the tour, but it would create a fan frenzy even greater than the one I witnessed. The crowd was full of passionate fans that were very into the show. All of these artists have current releases or re-releases of older material at present, please stop by their web sites and have a look or go to the show if it hasn’t reached your city yet, you will not be disappointed in what you see there. I can’t wait for the next incarnation of G3!