Album review: Joe Satriani/Eric Johnson/Steve Vai G3—Live in Concert (1997)

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN THE GEORGIA STRAIGHT, JULY 10, 1997

By Steve Newton

Talk about a rock-guitar freak’s dream gig! Three American masters of the electric six-string unite for a tour that sees each of them performing a separate set before they combine on a three-song jam-o-rama. Break out the air guitars, kids—and dust up on those euphoric facial expressions!

Recorded on the G3 tour last October and November, this 77-minute display of instrumental wizardry includes three selections each from the assembled players. Being a huge Satch worshipper, I was expecting him to maybe blow the other two pickers away, but G3—Live in Concert is far from a one-man show. Those who view Vai as a showy, speed-over-substance type may change their minds after hearing his exquisite work on the moving epic “For the Love of God”. As for Johnson, the least flashy of the three, it’s business as usual in the taste-and-tone department.

After their own sets of original material, all three players hook up—with Satriani’s imposing rhythm section of bassist Stu Hamm and drummer Jeff Campitelli—for a string-bending orgy that includes bluesy standards by Hendrix (“Red House”) and Don Nix (“Going Down”), plus the maniacal “My Guitar Wants to Kill Your Mama”, by Vai’s mentor, Frank Zappa.

There may be a few too many notes per second tossed off during the jam for some ears, but if anyone’s gonna wank, it might as well be these guys.

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