G3 At the Orpheum in Los Angeles, CA

The last time the G3 tour played Los Angeles, CA it was in 2018 before there was a global pandemic and since that last time they played the Orpheum Theater in Downtown Los Angeles, the world lost two guitarists of the top 10 greatest guitarists of all time; Jeff Beck who played the Orpheum as one of his final shows before passing two months later and Eddie Van Halen. The last G3 tour consisted of Joe Satriani, Dream Theater’s John Petrucci, and Def Leppard’s Phil Collen. Going back to 1996 when G3 began it was Satriani, Steve Vai, and Eric Johnson. For the 27th anniversary of G3 all three came together for the first time since 2000, but this was the first time all three have toured together in the U.S. since the first tour. Vai has done 13 G3 tours and this was Johnson’s fourth. The tour concluded at the Orpheum with two nights this past weekend (2/9 and 2/10) was filmed for a documentary being made by Satriani’s son ZZ. If you grew up on Guitar Hero you’ll certainly remember a few of these songs in the series. 

The show began at 7:30 P.M. with Vai playing a six song set including his long time band members Jeremy Colson (Drums) and Phil Bynoe (Bass). Vai’s set included two of his most iconic songs “Tender Surrender and “For the Love of God”. Before“Teeth of the Hydra,” Vai pulled off a sheet covering his famous Hydra guitar. Before being a solo artist, Vai already made a name for himself going back to the 80’s being in Frank Zappa’s band, Whitesnake, Alcatrazz, and David Lee Roth’s first solo band following his departure from Van Halen. 

Eric Johnson would play next. When it comes to legendary Texas guitarists you think of Stevie Ray and Jimmie Vaughan from Dallas, TX and from Austin, TX there’s none other than Eric Johnson. Johnson performed eight songs beginning with Chris Kenner’s “Land of 1000 Dances. Eric Johnson performed John Coltrane’s “Impressions” after two songs. Johnson would then pay tribute to the great Jeff Beck with “Freeway Jam” which was the opening song on Beck’s final tour. Johnson would follow with one of his biggest songs “Desert Rose” then a guitar solo leading into “Cliffs of Dover” and concluded with “Venus Reprise.” 

Satriani the founder of G3 has done a total of 20 G3 tours across the globe. A few of Satriani’s students were Kirk Hammett (Metallica), Andy Timmons, Ler (Primus), Alex Skolnick (Testament), and of course Steve Vai. Satriani shared the story of Vai showing up for lessons as a kid and having a guitar in one hand and strings in the other. Satriani found major success with his second album Surfing With the Alien and just a year later would be Mick Jagger’s first solo guitarist. Between 1989 and 2008, Satriani received 15 Grammy nominations all for Best Rock Instrumental Performance. In 1993 Satriani would become Deep Purple’s guitar following Ritchie Blackmore’s second departure before Steve Morse would be a permanent replacement. Fast forward to 2008 Satriani formed Chickenfoot with ex-Van Halen members Sammy Hagar and Michael Anthony and Red Hot Chili Peppers’ drummer Chad Smith. Smith and Glenn Hughes showed up as surprise guests at the last Orpheum show in 2018. When Smith was unavailable for Chickenfoot shows, Kenny Aronoff filled in. Aronoff has recorded with a long list of iconic artists most notably John Mellencamp which he did 10 albums with and was his live drummer. Aronoff and bassist Bryan Beller (The Aristocrats/Dethklok) were with Satriani on this tour. Beller has been with Satriani over the past decade. Now in 2024 Satriani will be touring again with Hagar and Anthony with the addition of Jason Bonahm for a tour celebrating Hagar’s time with Van Halen. 

Satriani performed eight songs, three from Surfing With the Alien which were the title track, “Satch Boogie,” and “Always With Me, Always With You. ZZ Satriani who was filming the show for the documentary picked up a guitar to join in for “Summer Song” the last song before the finale. Joe Satriani then invited Johnson and Vai back to the stage for Cream’s “Crossroads” which comes from Robert Johnson’s ‘Crossroad Blues.” This show wouldn’t be complete without honoring the greatest Rock guitarist of all Jimi Hendrix. The finale continued with “Spanish Castle Magic,” and Steppenwolf’s “Born to Be Wild.” Satriani would then bring out Jason Richardson for Alabama State Troupers’ “Going Down” and Alice Cooper guitarist Nita Strauss would join for the grand finale of Jimi Hendrix’s “Foxy Lady.” On Night two Plini, Dethklok’s Brendon Small, and Bon Jovi guitarist Phil X would guest on the last two songs.