Joe Satriani’s G3 Tour 2018 Review

On Friday, January 12, 2018, the same date as the release of his new album, What Happens Next, Joe Satriani played the second date on his historic G3 Tour at the historic Elsinore Theater in Salem, Orenon. This year the USA shows include Phil Collen lead guitarist and co-singer for “Def Leppard” and “Delta Deep” as well as John Petrucci, “Dream Theater” leader and lead guitarist. The G3 tour was begun by Satriani in 1995 based on the idea that audiences love great guitar players. Over the past 23 years some of the artists that have been featured on the tour are Steve Vai, Eric Johnson, Kenny Wayne Shepherd, Yngwie Malsteen, Robert Fripp, Steve Lukather, Adrian Legg and many others.

Tonight the show began with Phil Collen and most of his group “Delta Deep,” which included Craig Martini on bass guitar and Forrest Robinson on drums. After the power trio cranked out a few instrumental excursions into the speed metal stratosphere, the band’s fourth member, vocalist Debbie Blackwell – Cook joined the them to complete the quartet and they immediately began to churn out songs from their self released 2015 album Delta Deep East Coast Live. “Down in the Delta” was a genre changing jolt as speed metal was replaced by hard blues rock. By the time Cook was belting out “Mistreated” with an intensity that could only be matched by Collen’s stellar guitar riffs the audience was completely mesmerized.

The show started at 8:00 PM, which allowed for an hour minus setup time for each act. John Petrucci of “Dream Theater” hit the stage around 9:00 PM, like an F-14 coming in for a landing on an Aircraft Carrier. The stellar guitarist shredded his way through a half dozen numbers beginning with a cover of the “Wonder Woman Main Theme.” After segueing into “Jaws of Life” for a heavy excursion that ascends and descends into gut wrenching guitar riffs, Petrucci announced a change in musical direction. “We’ll do something a little happier,” as the band dove into “Cloud Ten.” The band’s rhythm section was comprised of Dave LaRue on bass and “Dream Theater” drummer Mike Mangini, who drove the beat as relentlessly as Petrucci attacked his axe. Petrucci introduced “Glassy-Eyed Zombies” as an unrecorded tune as he led the band into a dark excursion into demented sound that both tormented and titillated the audience’s tympanic membranes.

A few minutes after 10:00 PM, Joe Satriani and his band comprised of Mike Keneally (guitar and keyboards), Bryan Beller (bass) and Joe Travers (drums) took the stage. Joe told the packed house he always enjoyed playing in Salem and that his new album What Happens Next just came out today. He introduced “Super Funky Badass” and “Cherry Blossoms,” a couple of half a dozen cuts from the new album that he played that night. Satriani danced from one end of the stage to the other as he demonstrated his guitar prowess with a small selection of his original compositions from sixteen studio albums. The familiarity of songs like “Surfing with the Alien” and “Always with Me, Always with You” brought the crowd to its feet. The background images that played on the screen throughout the show added a visual component to the show that completely saturated the senses.

Joe Satriani performs on the G3 Tour in Salem, Oregon.

Around 11:00 PM, Collen, Petrucci and Cook joined Satriani and his band for the encore. They dove into “Deep Purple’s” “Highway Star,” which rocked the house. It was like the entire night had been building up to this climax, as Cook wailed to the guitar trio’s insane assault.

“Nobody gonna take my car
I’m gonna race it to the ground”

When they concluded that number they immediately started up Stevie Wonders “Superstition” as an exercise into guitar variations, accompanied by Cook’s wailing voice. The song concluded with a medley of snippets of tunes by everyone from Jimi Hendrix to AC/DC. The show concluded with Collen, Petrucci and Satriani jamming to Freddie King’s “Going Down,” which brought down the house and drove the audience to its feet one last time.

Review by Bob Gersztyn

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