at Congress Theater, Chicago, IL, USA, March 24, 2007

It’s hard to imagine that it’s been ten years since guitar virtuoso Joe Satriani instituted the first G3 Tour. Even after all these years, the tour and its premise maintains a certain element of excitement. Just when it might seem to become redundant, Joe manages to mix it up with something new. This year it’s the addition of guitarist Paul Gilbert (ex-Mr. Big, Racer X).

The G3 2007 Tour was barely underway as the multitude of gear, trucks, and tour buses paused every so slightly for one night at the Congress Theater in Chicago, Illinois, USA. Guitar aficionados had started lining up six hours before the doors opened, resulting in two lines, one down Milwaukee Avenue and another down Rockwell Street. Once inside, there seemed to be an impressive showing that nevertheless did not quite fill the hall to its capacity of 3,500. More impressive was the make-up of the crowd, ranging from teens to “mature” fans and even including a group of out-of-town Polish gents who made the trip from overseas just to see Joe perform this night.


First up for tonight’s guitar triumvirate was Paul Gilbert who was happy to be on the G3 Tour to “re-introduce” himself to American audiences. The majority of his set list tonight, totaling nearly forty-five minutes, were selections from Paul’s solo instrumental catalog, predominately from his latest release Get Out Of My Yard.

Oftentimes, Paul worked quite nicely in tandem with his other “lead guitarist,” Bruce Bouillet, whom Paul worked with most notably in their early Racer X days. It was quite nice to see the two working together live on stage once again, even though both are sporting much shorter hair nowadays. Together, both of them sounded great and exciting. Paul was crisp and seemed to be having sincere fun belting out one instrumental after another with Bruce and his wife Emi (keyboards) by his side on stage.

The highlight of the evening was certainly when the crowd went ecstatic when Paul proclaimed, “… twenty years ago, Bruce and I were in a band called Racer X!” This, of course, led to chants of “Scarifed,” which Paul and crew were happy to oblige. It brought chills to the spine to hear them play this one with its full guitar harmonies … all played flawlessly live, complete with some “teeth picking” by Paul. This spilled over into another Racer X instrumental, “Scit Scat Wah,” which was plenty to sate Racer X fans, given that no one in Paul’s band has Jeff Martin’s (Racer X) vocal range.

Of course, Paul’s “Mr. Big Medley” was a welcome addition to fans in the audience as bassist Mike Szuter sang a segment of “Addicted To That Rush.” Surprisingly, Paul then sang lead vocals on a complete, and reasonably well-received, version of “Green-Tinted Sixties Mind.”

It was an electrifying performance that regrettably did not include an encore. Out of the three acts on tap tonight, Paul’s was the most refreshing due to that fact that most of the fans in attendance had never seen Paul play live. Hopefully America continues to make him feel welcome so that he will hit USA shores again very, very soon!


John PetrucciDream Theater’s John Petrucci was up next, but he wasn’t alone! His band consisted of fellow Dream Theater bandmate, drummer Mike Portnoy, and the equally impressive Dave LaRue (Dixie Dregs, Joe Satriani) on bass.

The P.A. seemed to get noticeably louder when John took the stage, especially the bass end. John’s setlist totaled nearly sixty minutes and was filled by selections from his Suspended Animation CD. Highlights being the opener “Jaws Of Life,” “Curve,” and set closer “Damage Control.”

Petrucci was on the money with white knuckles and all fingers blazing. His performance was well-received by the many Dream Theater fans in attendance. With only John and Dave on stage, the set seemed to swallow the two up as they did their best to use every square inch of open space.

Mike Portnoy was a joy to watch, tossing drumsticks everywhere in the air. At one point, he tossed one to a stagehand who tossed him a new one in exchange … all without missing a beat during “Curve.” Dave LaRue also got some solo time in and was warmly greeted by the Chicago fans with extended chants of “LaRuuuuuue.”

Overall, an exhilarating performance that literally started to drain the audience emotionally. It almost begged the notion that perhaps this was the start of too much “shredding” for one night, with Satriani and the usual G3 group performance waiting in the wings.


Joe SatrianiThe master of ceremonies was up next in Joe Satriani. As expected, Joe put on nothing short of an entertaining set. His performance was full of spot-on soloing, the usual gallery of face contortions he puts on, and more guitar body change-ups than outfits at a Cher concert. His band still consists of the staples of Jeff Campitelli on drums, Galen Henson on rhythm guitar, and the moonlighting Dave LaRue on bass.

Joe’s set included the usual favorites, including “Cool #9,” “Satch Boogie,” “Surfing With The Alien,” etc. The Chicago crowd this night gave it their all when they accompanied Joe during “Crowd Chant,” resulting in a much better performance by Chicago than during Joe’s last visit to the Windy City.

Dave LaRue was afforded some solo time as well, and was once again identified by the crowd with “LaRuuuuuue” chants, much in the same way fans taunted Stu Hamm with “Stuuuuuu.” At one point, Joe was overwhelmed by it and told the audience that he suggested Dave change his name, all in jest, of course.

One of the highlights of a G3 Tour is the closer where Joe’s set bleeds into a combined offering by all three guitarists. After Joe’s final song, “Always With Me, Always With You,” he went into a mellow-sounding, unrecognizable instrumental which led to Petrucci walking on stage (to avid cheers). John played a solo that resulted into Gilbert walking out, who then proceeded to play a solo of his own. The three guitarists then paid homage to Jimi Hendrix by playing “Foxy Lady” and “Purple Haze,” both sung by Paul, as well as a tease of “Voodoo Chile.” The threesome then played Jeff Beck’s “Going Down,” sung by Joe, and then “Jumping Jack Flash,” sung by Paul. The highlight of this jam session was when the threesome got into a “guitar duel,” a’la Deliverance, with each firing off a set of licks — one guitarist followed by another. At one point, Paul had accomplished more “teeth-picking,” as well as using the drill for a scant few seconds.

When all was said and done, it was a memorable and guitar-filled evening. For the money, it seemed to be a lot of great guitar playing (and musicianship in general) squeezed into one short night. Highly recommended!!!


  • Scott Jeslis

    Scott is one of the partners at Metal Express Radio. He handles a lot of Metal Express Radio's public relations, screening of new music and radio scheduling. On occasion, he also does reviews and interviews. He has been a proud member of the Metal Express Radio crew since 2004.

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