G3: Joe Satriani, Steve Vai, Yngwie Malmsteen at the Portland Art Museum 10/16/2003
I'm a huge fan of guitar playing in general and love live music. I've attended tons of concerts. This was my third G3 show and I've seen Satch and Vai solo a bunch of times. Here's the review of this fateful night at the Portland Art Museum.
Yngwie: What can I say. He was way into it. However, last thing I need to see is a 300 pound swedish guy in tight leather pants playing guitar with his fat ass. It seemed a little over the top. His playing was pretty sloppy. Of all the players Yngwie spent the most time on stage alone. His band would leave stage frequently leaving him to masturbatorily wank around for five minutes or so which was very off putting. He would swing the guitar all over but it seemed so contrived and clumsy. He really seemed like he was trying to put on a good show but it was so poorly executed. He would hold his guitar out and fly it all over the place trying to be wild and crazy with it but it looked like he just didn't know any moves to do such. He also isn't kicking as high as he used to. He threw out tons of picks. His gimp had a hard time keeping up with stocking the mic stand with more picks. He also threw his guitar at his gimp about five times during his set. Yes, literally threw it at him. Once over his own head backward. A few times after he threw his guitar away and was waiting for his gimp to bring a new one, his band would be playing sans Yngwie. They were super tight and locked in together. However, soon enough, he would start playing and things would fall apart. I don't know if I caught him on an off night or what, but his band were better off without him. He was just so sloppy and uneven. He seemed to play for a really long time.
Vai: They had it planned out. They didn't even dim the house lights and out walks Vai on stage like he's not coming out to play but just skimming across the stage. When people see him and start cheering, he looks up and acts like he didn't expect people to notice him up there. After that he sits in a big fluffy red chair and the tech brings out his triple neck Jem. He plays for a while by himself, which is amazing, but like Yngwie doing it, was just a little self indulgent and frankly, boring. Once his band joined him the sparks were flying as they ripped through their set. Vai is a true entertainer. Everything is well choreographed to give maximum bang. Tony McAlpine was way underused, I thought. A few times he got to come out and totally shred against Vai. Trading licks or harmonizing them. No doubt Tony is a monster player in his own right. Of course, what would a Vai set be without some sort of all band spectacle and this one was no different. That nights menu included the four band members, Vai, McAlpine, Sheehan, Wiener all lining up at the front of the stage trading licks and adding harmonies to one another in turn and eventually fretting only each others instruments and just being amazing spectacles of showmanship. Then his set ended. I don't know if it was because I was enjoying it so much but he seemed to play less than half the time Yngwie did. Very disappointing. Vai played songs I've never heard him do live before (I've seen him five times) and did not play some old standbys. Quite cool really. "The Reaper" from Bill & Ted and "Juice" from Alien Love Secrets stand out. Disappointingly absent was "The Attitude Song". Billy Sheehan was incredibly underused. It was kind of odd that Vai was spending the money to have him there as he pretty much filled the typical bass player role most of the time.
Satch: Joe was typical Joe. He came out and did his thing. Well executed set without too much showmanship. Flawless playing, not a lot of action. Still, it's Joe! He also pulled out some unusual songs for a Satch set. This was also the fifth or sixth time I've seen Joe so it was cool to hear some different tunes. "Crushing Day" and "Midnight" off Surfing and "Mystical Potato Head Groove Thing" from Blue Dream were a few of the songs I haven't heard him do live typically. Of course, old standbys like "Flying In A Blue Dream" and "Summer Song" had to come out. Joe played for a suitably long time.
G3 Jam: Was actually a little disappointing though Yngwie was a lot more palatable in that situation. They did four tunes and all of them shined throughout. Yngwie threw a pick that hit my buddy in the eye. My buddy commented that he wished he had a donut to throw back at the Momsteen. Yngwie's pick throwing was fairly innacurate overall. He would often attempt to throw picks that would just land right in front of the stage and half dozen or so actually just landed right on stage because he didn't throw them far enough. One he actually threw back behind the amps... At one point during the last song, Billy Sheehan sneaks out and stands behind Yngwie while he's doing the swedish shredder thang. Billy sort of looks over Yngwie's shoulder mocking like he's trying to see what the portly man is playing. Then when he sees, he's like, "Oh, OK" and proceeds to just shred like a mad fool on his bass completely showing Yngwie up. Playing easily as fast and five times cleaner and did I mention absolutely shredding on bass?
Overall the show was great and I had a great time and enjoyed the whole thing. There it is!