G3 – State Theater – Minneapolis MN – February 24th 2018

G3 live at the State Theater Minneapolis MN 2/24/2018

Rock-n-roll guitar was pushed to colossal limits Saturday night at the State Theatre on Hennepin Avenue as the G3 Tour once again left a pickprint on the Minneapolis music scene. It was the 2nd last show before wrapping up this latest installment of Joe Satriani’s 3-course shred-fest that has become a fan favorite over the past 20+ years and has featured some of the genre’s biggest contributors.

Leading off was Phil Collen known for his continued long run as part of British rock band Def Leppard. For this outing, it was great to see a different side of Collen as he was promoting a Blues project with bassist Robert DeLeo (Stone Temple Pilots) and drummer Forrest Robinson called Delta Deep. The bands format also offered something not typically a big part of G3, earth shattering vocals by Debbi Blackwell-Cook. The best part was seeing how Collen successfully integrated his blistering soloing technique into this artform that tends to have a more subdued guitar approach.

Now a veteran G3 contributor on his 8th outing, Dream Theater co-founding member John Petrucci also chose not to dig into material from his primary gig. Fortunately, his solo compositions are just what you’d expect to hear at a G3 show and allowed Petrucci plenty of opportunity to produce a great deal of wow-factor. His ability to play fast of course must be applauded, but what has captured his core following is his tasteful note selection and creative phrasing that ranges from gritty to pretty. I would imagine the usual Dream Theater marathon show must be incredibly demanding for Petrucci, while this environment would seem to allow more freedom to explore. For me, his energy felt less intense and he genuinely appeared to be having fun, which was well received by the crowd.

As if things hadn’t already been impressive enough, Joe Satriani burst onto stage using “Energy” to kick-off a headlining set that was nothing short of a show stealer. His vibe was super upbeat and infectious as he appeared to be very plugged into his performance. Playing “Satch Boogie” early was a good choice as it grooved hard and ignited the crowd’s excitement. One of shows big highlights happened during “Super Funky Badass” when Mike Keneally joined Satch for a round of dueling solos that was not for the faint of heart. On a softer side, he did check the obligatory box by playing “Always With Me, Always With You” and closed the set with one of my all-time favorites “Summer Song”.

The traditional group jam was a 3-song encore consisting of “Highway Star” (Deep Purple), “Superstitious” (Stevie Wonder) and “Goin’ Down” (The Alabama State Troopers). As usual it was an uber note-heavy shred-finale allowing Satriani, Petrucci and Collen to vibe off one another as they traded solos and appeared to be having a blast. This organically translated to the already engaged audience providing a satisfying end to an evening that absolutely delivered on all counts.