Danny Zelisko Presents
Guitar superstar JOE SATRIANI brings the 2018 incarnation of his massively popular G3 tour to the Fox Stage!
The guitar icon welcomes Dream Theater’s John Petrucci and Def Leppard’s Phil Collen to his action-packed celebration of guitar wizardry!
“G3 tours are always very exciting, challenging and a lot of fun for me,” says Satriani. “I love any chance I get to stand on stage and play for my fans, but I especially love the crazy jolt I get when I can perform alongside other guitarists I admire. It ups my game, it ups their game, and I know our audiences always get a real kick out of the whole experience.”
John Petrucci has a long history with G3 – the Dream Theater founder and guitar virtuoso made his maiden voyage on the tour in 2001, and the 2018 trek will mark his seventh appearance on the bill. “I always look forward to having John on any G3 tour I do,” says Satriani. “He continues to be one of the most incredible and inspiring guitarists I’ve ever played with, and he never fails to do things on stage that I find utterly jaw dropping. I can only imagine what new surprises he’s got planned for this tour.”
Petrucci echoes Satriani’s effusive praise, calling the guitarist “one of the best and most creative players I’ve ever heard, and I just love him as a person, too.” He looks back at his past six G3 tours with considerable pride, saying, “They’ve been some of the most enjoyable experiences of my life. I’ve been able to go all over the world with Joe and other great guitarists, and I’ve been able to expose my fans to another side of me with my solo work. And I think I’ve picked up some new fans along the way – they see me on G3 and then they go out and check out Dream Theater. So it’s exciting in that way, too.”
2018 will see Phil Collen making his debut as a G3er. The venerable guitarist joined Def Leppard in 1982 and has been a key part of their worldwide multi-platinum success story, but he’s rarely stepped out as a solo axeman in his own right. “That’s what’s going to be so interesting and cool,” Satriani notes. “We think of Phil as being this integrated part of Def Leppard, but I recently got a chance to play with him at my latest G4 Experience in California, and I thought he was extraordinary. In my opinion, he’s probably underrated, so I’m looking forward to seeing what he does in his full set on the next G3.”
Says Collen, “Being asked to take part in the G3 tour is a real honor. I’ve been fortunate to have played guitar all over the world for many years, but I’ve never been able to stretch out as a player in the way that this tour will allow me to. And I’m thrilled beyond words to be on a bill with Joe Satriani and John Petrucci. They’re two of the greatest guitarists we have. I’m really looking forward to sharing a stage with them.”
Since its debut in 1996, Satriai’s G3 tour has featured the world’s greatest guitarists (everyone from Steve Vai and Eric Johnson to Steve Lukather and Robert Fripp) and has become a consistent concert hall sell-out attraction in the U.S., South America, Europe, Australia and Japan. “I could say that I’m surprised at the durability of G3 and how much it’s grown, but in a way I’m not,” Satriani says with a laugh. “I think part of its charm and its mojo is in the chemistry of having three top guitarists share what they do on stage. It’s fun, it’s unpredictable, it’s wild – it’s everything you could want in a show.”
Satriani had a hunch that an action-packed night of guitar wizardy could be a touring behemoth back in 1995 when he initially hatched the plan to hit the road with some of his six-string comrades. At first, he envisioned something along the lines of Lollapalooza with a lineup featuring a dozen or more guitarists. “I quickly realized that wasn’t the way to go,” he says. “Each guitarist would only get to do a few songs. I wanted everybody to be able to do a proper set, and then we’ll all jam together for the finale.” Then he seized upon a concept much like the Three Tenors (Luciano Pavarotti, Placido Domingo and Jose Carreras) but one that would pool the unique talents of three guitarists. “So there it was: “Three guitarists – G3,” he says, “That idea felt really right to me. It was streamlined and easy to understand, and I knew I could still offer people a night of unique talents.”
The guitarist admits that when he first tried to sell promoters on his idea, the response was less than enthusiastic. “They didn’t seem to get it,” he recalls. “Maybe it’s because it was so new and crazy and that nobody had tried such a thing before. But I like my crazy ideas – that’s how I have a career.” Undaunted, Satriani called upon old pals Steve Vai and Eric Johnson – the first and only guitarists he considered for the debut of G3 – and they signed on immediately. And then something funny happened: The minute tickets went on sale – boom! – the dates sold out in a flash. “That was so gratifying,” Satch says. “Sometimes you just have to go out there and prove that something can work. I always had this funny feeling that it would.”
The first G3 tour of 1996 was a smash, and Satriani knew that he had a juggernaut on his hands. So did promoters, who begged for a return. For the next run a year later, Satch again teamed with Vai, but he added two wildcards – modern blues star Kenny Wayne Shepherd and progressive-rock icon Robert Fripp. “This was the first and only time G3 had four guitarists on a bill,” he notes. On paper, a lineup that featured two such disparate talents of Shepherd and Fripp might look odd, but Satriani explains that he had a method to his madness. “I was really curious to see what those two guys might do together, especially on the end-of-the-show jam. But Robert has a deep connection to the blues, so when he joined me and Steve and Kenny on ‘Little Wing’ and “I’m Going Down,’ he was incredible. The whole thing was electrifying.”
After 1997, Satriani began to take G3 wide – hitting Europe twice with lineups that included the likes of Adrian Legg, Michael Schenker and Uli Jon Roth; storming South America with Vai and Fripp; Japan with Vai, Petrucci and an unbilled Marty Friedman (the former Megadeth guitarist is a superstar in that country); and even New Zealand with Steve Lukather going up against the mighty Satch and Vai. By now, G3 was an established concert draw, selling out seats as fast as tickets went on sale, no matter what region of the globe the tour hit.
“I could draw a lot of conclusions about why G3 plays so well all over the world,” says Satriani. “Beyond the fact that we offer fans a really incredible night with the greatest guitarists out there, I think it also speaks to the fact that music – and instrumental guitar music, in particular – breaks any cultural and language barriers. Each night is a celebration of the guitar and the music we love, and audiences respond to that. They thirst for it and they engage with it. To be quite honest, I wasn’t surprised that we’ve had this kind of worldwide success.”
For Satriani, one of the most rewarding aspects to G3 is how it helps expose certain guitarists to new and different audiences. He makes it a point that each bill offers a wide variety of styles and talents. “It’s always fun to look out at the audience and see their minds being changed while their ears are opening up,” he enthuses. “Let’s face it: Fans are coming to the show with their minds made up: I might be their favorite, or they might love Steve Vai the most – that’s only natural. But then they see what Paul Gilbert is doing, or they hear Steve Lukather in a way they’ve never heard him before. They walk out with a fresh outlook on things. There’s a lot of goodwill that spreads because of G3.”
As one might imagine, Satriani finds it difficult to single out favorite moments from over two decades of G3 tours. “I mean, where to begin?” he asks rhetorically. “Twenty years of playing with my favorite guitarists – John Petrucci, Steve Vai, Steve Morse, Eric Johnson, Paul Gilbert – it just goes on and on.”
“But what’s really special is how G3 has endured and grown over the years,” he continues. “Fans keep coming back because they get an extraordinary night of incredible music that’s also a lot of fun, and we love bringing it to them because, well, we’re having fun, too. I know John Petrucci and I have a shared feeling of, ‘How can we make this bigger and better?’ And having Phil Collen aboard will bring an exciting new aspect to it all. I can’t wait to see all my fans out there again. Each night is going to be fantastic.”