The almighty descended on Mesa, Arizona on this unassuming night in January.
The fantastic Ikeda Theater, at the Mesa Arts Center, is such an acoustically sound venue, adept to the breadth of productions it hosts, from plays to opera and from requiems to rock. Tonight was a night of solid rock, blues and technically brilliant demonstrations of some of the very finest axe slayers the state has ever seen.
G3 2018 comprised of essentially 3 sets by legends of the guitar world, I’d likely say G4 was more accurate, as Phil Collen of Def Leppard followed by the mighty John Petrucci of Dream Theater and then the one and only Joe Satriani.
Collen with his Delta Deep blues band came out and brilliantly played the familiar Jackson guitars he famously plays with the heavy rock of Def Leppard to recreate and tell stories in the realm of the blues, with an authority and dynamic which impressed the audience. Taking us through the ample set which included a Deep Purple cover, Mistreated, ended the set with Debbie Blackwell-Cook delivering the last great vocal performance of the set. Backed by Debbie on lead vocals, Robert DeLeo of Stone Temple Pilots on bass and Forrest Robinson on drums, brought the house to their feet with a well performed blues / rock mix, with a few familiar leppard style fills and riffs peeking into the overall sound.
John Petrucci, whom I’ve seen perform with his own Dream Theater, brought with him Mike Mangini, who only a few years ago replaces DT’s original skin beater, Mike Portnoy. John always delivers, never disappoints very much brought a set comprising of Hans Zimmer cover (From the Wonder Woman soundtrack) through Jaws of Life, Cloud Ten, Damage control, Glassy Eyed Zombies and finishing with the ever popular Glasgow Kiss from his 2005 debut solo album, produced by Kevin Shirley (the Caveman).
Throughout every Petrucci performance, effortless strings of notes flow from hammer-ons, pull offs and exquisitely placed harmonics and finger taps release a powerful and comprehendible deluge of dynamically delivered runs of awesomeness. I’m not a guitarist and wish I understood more of the modes and methods used by John and the other guitarists. Demonstrating their masterful musical knowledge of theory in the agility with what drummers call ‘limb independence’ but in their fingers with accuracy and control to furnish our ears with such tantalizing tones and pleasurably enunciated stories told with pick and strings. Johns’ familiar position, foot up on the floor monitor, fingers at times in a blur, but connecting powerfully with the audience with his eyes as he absorbs the energy immediately returning it to the ears of all in the auditorium. After an the backdrop of various milky way scenes with snow, mountains morphed into the well choreographed and designed lighting, washing forward in waves or of stunning reds, blues and much more in a visual accompaniment true to the DT experience.
Mangini is clearly at ease with DT and certainly joined the DT family and accompanying brother John in his G3 engagement brilliantly. Thoroughly enjoying his place on the throne.
Finally, what all thought they’d been waiting for, Satch himself comes to the stage with Pat Travers on Drums, Brian Beller of Aristocrats, Pat Travers of pretty much every scenario and setting a drummer could be found and the (unofficial) 4th G, Mike Keneally who expertly hammered on with left hand fret whilst with his right hand melodiously mixing the sounds of his keyboards effortlessly and seamlessly throughout the set.
This ringleader, genial master, smiles as he enters the view of the erupting audience, excited and high on the earlier performances, anticipating even more of the fantastic shredding and quality riffing, soloing and downright impressive performance.
Satriani is known for his style, flair and his power to captivate and entertain with flambouyant phrasing and technically stunning displays of every aspect of virtuosity. He was one of those, along side Vai, Petrucci, Becker and an exclusive few who pushed guitar sounds and skill to a level never seen before. Regarded as one of the most successful guitarists alive, dazzling the crowed with his set of Energy, Catbot, Satch Boogie and so many favorites, Cataclysmic, headrush, to a Drum Solo and then Summer Song.
The absolute climax of the night, which almost took the roof off the place, was when collen and Petrucci came back to the stage to cover Deep Purples ‘Highway Star,’ Stevie Wonders ‘Superstition’ and finally The Alabama State Troupers ‘Going Down’ absolutely knocking the socks off everyone in the crowd.
Satriani, his band and guests clearly loving their time on tour together, rallying with and against one another in a lickfest which will be lodged in the memory of all those present. At the end of the night, receiving one word from the promoter which summed up the night for me, too – “Wow”
The tour continues and weaves it’s way across the SW states ending in Austin on 1/27. Be sure to catch this show somewhere along it’s route!