G3 Live In Concert

G3 Live In Concert (1999)
Sony Music
Cast: Joe Satriani, Eric Johnson, Steve Vai
Extras: Biographies

Among guitar aficionados the term "G3" usually causes immediate salivating and feverish looks, while the rest of the world may just wonder, "What is G3?"
In 1996 three guitar legends teamed up together for a very unique tour to give fans around the world a first-hand glimpse into the magic of modern guitar play. Since this was an event of three guitars, the event was appropriately called "G3." The guitarists in questions were Joe Satriani, Eric Johnson and Steve Vai and in their shows they managed to blow every fan’s senses with their sophistication, their technique, their tone, their sound and their general presence. For fans who attended these shows it was a night to remember, and I am sure more than a few guitarists threw away their instruments in frustration after seeing these axemen perform their musical magic.

Sony Music is now presenting "G3 Live In Concert" on DVD, featuring a selection of songs recorded during the Minneapolis show in November 1996. Just like the concert itself, the DVD features separate performances by each of the artists, and then concludes with selected songs from the jam session featuring all three guitarists at the same time, that closed the concert every night.

Joe "Satch" Satriani is the first to make his appearance. The DVD features three songs from the man whose guitar play centers around melody and tone, although at breakneck speeds. "Cool #9", "Flying In A Blue Dream" and "Summer Song" are beautiful renditions of each of these popular songs by the artist and are perfect showcases to exemplify what makes Satch so special. His ear, his intonation, his syncopations, the whammy-bar-work, and his play is beautiful and captivating and the well-edited camera work in the video gives viewers the chance to nicely observe his play up close and personal. Just watch him work with his sweet spots for the guitar flageolet feedback in the opening of "Flying In A Blue Dream" and you immediately know that Joe is not your off-the-mill shredder.

Then we get to witness Texan guitar legend Eric Johnson at work, the blonde sonny boy, who is known for his notoriety about the perfect sound and his shrapnel-sharp playing. With his "Intro Song," "Manhattan," and "SRV" the DVD features some songs by Johnson that nicely show his strengths and variety from rock, blues all the way to the Wes Montgomery-ish double-stops and jazz elements in "Manhattan." Elaborate songwriting, blistering solos, his trademark sound, his staccatto phrasing and most importantly his controlled play, are all factors that define his superb play, and since there aren’t too many opportunities to see Eric Johnson live, this segment is a real treat for fans.

Finally it is time to set the stage for the grandmaster himself, Steve Vai, the guitarist who has re-invented guitar play in the 80s and 90s. Starting out with "Answers" the song is followed up by an enchanting version of "For The Love Of God." Especially this piece is an example of Steve’s virtuosity in many fields. Playful at first, the song builds with every beat, becomes increasingly aggressive and ultimately becomes a finger-breaking, string-stressing exercise of some of the best fretwork ever laid down on a record. The ease with which Vai pulls off the song in the video is simply marvelous and inspiring, and the camera actually allows a good view on his fretwork. The song is the followed by an equally congenial rendition of "The Attitude Song," that can’t be missed.

After these solo performances it is time to bring out all the Gs, and Joe Satriani brings them all on stage to jam away in a steamy mix of rock and blues. "Going Down," "My Guitar Wants To Kill Your Mama," and a fabulous version of "Red House" wipes out any doubts anyone could possible have had about the skills and qualities of either one of these three guitarists. It puts the icing on the cake of this video and makes sure you won’t forget it anytime soon.

The DVD Sony Music is presenting here contains a <$PS,fullscreen> version of the concert. Wit ha number of cameras the producers of the show have been able to capture some breathtaking moments in beautiful pictures. The concert has been recorded with high quality video equipment and video artifacts are held at a minimum. Occasional banding is evident and <$chroma,chroma noise>, due to the heavily tinged lighting, but for the most part, the images are clear, sharp, well defined and without distracting elements. The compression is beautifully done without compression artifacts or <$pixelation,pixelation>.

The audio on the DVD on the DVD is simply spectacular. The DVD defaults to a stereo <$PCM,PCM> track that captures the concert without any distortions and with beautiful clarity. However when you switch over to the 5.1 <$DD,Dolby Digital> mix that is also part of the release, you will be blown away by the depth and dimension of the mix. With phenomenal low ends, the recording captures the essence of the live mix, while the high ends keep every little detail of the performance intact. Cymbals are nicely pronounced without sibilance or gating. It is notable across the board how driving, clean and pounding the performances are, much more so, as many of the tracks presented are some serious rock pieces with heavy bass and plenty of distorted guitars. Separation and integration are masterfully done. Early reflections in the surrounds add depth to the mix and help building the impression of the real live experience.
The DVD is rounded up by stylish and colorful menus, and biographical information on all three artists.

I can’t help but being impressed with Sony Music’s choice to release this glorious title on DVD. The quality is outstanding, the title selection is perfect and although only 75 minutes long, fans will walk away from this release in amazement and awe over what they see and hear. For every fan of guitar music there can be only one verdict, make sure to check this disc out or you may never know what guitar playing is all about!
If this disc isn’t infectious, nothing is!