Review by Terry R. Wickham
Friday February 16th, 2018 was a terrific night to celebrate my favorite musical instrument in the world, the guitar. If you love guitar playing as much as I do, then this was an all-out commemoration of the six-string (sometimes more strings) instrument by three of the top world class players who rule the instrument.
What was so great about this show was the diversity delivered by the three players and the bands they commanded. It kind of reminds me of how my feature film Devil’s Five is so worthwhile for an audience. In our case, we have five different type of films that each are uniquely different but threaded together for the same purpose. This G3 Show featured the similar concept, where three different guitarists brought varying degrees of modus operandi, but banded together gave the audience a wonderful mixture of musical flair and texture.
Def Leppard lead guitarist Phil Collen has an All-Star side band called Delta Deep. It’s a totally different incarnation than his long-time legendary English Rock band. It’s a heavy blues outfit featuring the incredible vocals of Debbi Blackwell-Cook, bass from Craig Martino, drums by Forrest Robinson (Joe Sample & The Crusaders, India. Arie, TLC).
First Phil Collen came out firing away with a couple quick instrumental tracks that showed all of us his six-string prowess. The man was ripping out quick runs on his guitar and accenting his hyperkinetic solos with deep bluesy riffs that would make Albert King and Buddy Guy smile with pride.
Then we all got the treat of hearing Delta Deep’s NYC hometown dynamic vocalist Debbi Blackwell-Cook do her thing. This woman is a true blues queen, expressing the frustration and hurt meaning of lyrical representations of sadness and despair with the grit and conviction of a musical genre monarch.
I looked around the crowd while Delta Deep was playing, people were enjoying their brand of spiritual, hardworking folk music with soul. It seems that the blues is the type of music that anyone can enjoy, and it always provides the framework for musical improvisation and jamming.
I think Delta Deep won over a bunch of new fans, myself included.
Next came New York (Kings Park in Long Island) hometown guitarist mastermind John Petrucci, who never ceases to amaze me. His band began their set with a lengthy cinematic intro, then Petrucci, who has grown out his hair and beard (which Debbi Blackwell-Cook described as Jesus like), provided no-holds barred assault of six-seven string attack that left everyone stunned by his expertise on the instrument.
What I liked most about Petrucci’s music is that, in his own words, that he delivered the “Metal” for the night. Huge chucky, fat guitar riffs had all of us metal folk screaming for more.
John played many of the songs off his solo album Suspended Animation. Petrucci’s music was so heavy and thick with metallic delight that the audience just totally dug it. There was a lot of fans following his every note. John mentioned that his wife and two daughters were in attendance and because he’s from Long Island, I believe he probably played even more inspired than usual.
What’s so great about his guitar playing was not only was it technically proficient and impressive, but he always kept melody at the forefront. Petrucci’s was honest when he said after doing six or seven G3 tours, he realizes the G3 platform is the best place any guitar player could ever get, because guitar takes center stage. I would agree as the instrument becomes the voice of the songs and it just proved to be true through all the sets.
One of my favorite tracks of the night was when Petrucci and his band, Dave LaRue (Dixie Dregs) on bass and Mike Mangini (Dream Theater) on drums played a new song created for this G3 tour called “Glassy-eyed Zombies.” It was heavy & cool and the fact it was horror themed made me & one of my Devil’s Five partners George Brianka, love it even more.
Joe Satriani’s performance was as advertised. Satriani always brings a very inspired show as he’s absolutely a showman as a guitar player. It’s not just his playing but what he does on the stage that excites and thrills fans the world over.
What struck me the most about Satriani’s show is the pure joy he seems to be getting from playing before an audience and soaking in the dedicated fans supporting the guitar roller coaster that has become G3. It’s honestly a brilliant concept from not only from a musical or audience viewing perspective, but business move on his part.
It shows his innovative nature that has been proven by the long list of achievements spread out of the past three decades.
His setlist included quite a few of his newer tracks from the last couple albums “Cherry Blossoms” and “Thunder High on the Mountain” to name a few, which I think is smart to give listeners new things to latch onto and enjoy.
The Silver Surfer guitarist also went back to some of the classics like “Satch Boogie” and “Always With Me, Always With You” from Surfing from the Alien and other tunes from his considerable catalog.
Joe also gladly shares the stage and gives his band equal spotlight time, which shows not only his willingness to allocate the experience, but demonstrates his leadership and admiration for what they do together.
Satch’s band consisted of Bryan Beller on bass, Mike Keneally on keyboards/guitar and Joe Travers on drums. Beller looked like he was having a great time and Keneally is just a musical ambidextrous chameleon playing both keyboard and guitar with equal authority.
The biggest surprise of the night for me was the inclusion of “The Voice of Rock” Glenn Hughes, who joined everyone for the three encore songs beginning with a rousing rendition of Deep Purple’s legendary “Highway Star.”
Everyone was shocked at how easily the Trapeze, Deep Purple, Black Sabbath, Black Country Communion vocalist belted out the high notes that could match his voice from 30 plus years ago. Wow!
Next came a rockified version of Stevie Wonder’s “Superstition”, where Delta Deep’s Debbi Blackwell- Cook joined Hughes to front the vocals of the 1972 hit.
Lastly the full stage of musicians unified for a truly invigorating interpretation of the Freddie King classic and G3 Staple “Going Down.” Each guitarist got equal measure of bars to bring their own touch to the song, breaking into countless ways to supercharge it.
If you haven’t got a chance to see G3, then this review should service notice to you why you should attend one of the shows. Not only will everyone blow you away with their musical Wizardry, but you will honestly feel the musicians’ humble appreciation for you attending and supporting what they love to do. Being at a G3 Event is a night truly to remember and will most likely stay with you for a lifetime.
Get your tickets now for upcoming shows in the US and Europe: