sorry to start a new thread, but the other one is scattered w/ various discussion and this is probably going to be a bit long and might get a few replies that could distract from the other "G3 experience" thread.
November 11, 2003 - G3 @ NYC
It was nice to see everyone over at the Westside Brewing Co. before the show
Now I especially wish the show was on a weekend, because that would have left many hours to a pre-show and also more people who could have made the G3 trek.
I'll start this review with some background info in order to give you my perspective as an audience member & fan. I've read reviews in the past saying things like "i think Vai looked at me" and I guess that is great for you, but it's irrelevant for me
I've seen Steve (& Joe) many times this past decade, including each G3 lineup (EJ, KWS, JP). I have also seen Malmsteen circa '85 with Alcatraz, headlining w/ Rising Force, where Billy Sheehan opened with his band Talas and again in the early 90s. Fortunately, I myself have not seen a bad show by any of these guys. So I have a good feeling of what these guys can do and what they've done in the past from their start. I must also note that all performers have a much better command of the guitar and music theory than I have, and most reading have. I have no aspirations to be any of these guys or their pals. Even though should be very obvious, I just wanted to point out anyways for the readers
I feel he's somewhat maligned here and often for no apparent or tangible reason. I wasn't heading into this show expecting Yngwie circa 1985, but still I cannot rave about his performance. For those who say he's a showboat or hyperactive - to me he looked like a SLUG in comparison to tours from his heyday. His attire was the same - white boots and all - but his energy was down, he did minimal guitar tossing & pick kicking but his worst offense was overplaying. The problem with Yngwie last night was that he regretfully would squash the melody line and vastly overplay during many sections of his "songs" or solos. Surely they must realize that does not work in a small concert hall or with mediocre acoustics, even if to some it works on studio albums. If you listen to '85 era live recorings of "far beyond the sun" and heard a soundboard mix of last night's show, you would surely be disappointed and realize the song became anticlimactic. He certainly did not improve the songs over what is on his albums and he removed most of their dramatic elements.
Also lost from the late-80s was his creamy Strat tone. Perhaps a byproduct of the sound engineers (sic), he had a distinct "tin-like" sound that should have been immediately corrected. I don't think anyone would want that sound, but Simon mentioned it as well as a few others I spoke to. It seemed to be worse during intense picking/soloing especially using the bridge pickup. Interesting there were some at NYC who said YJM had the "best tone" so you can do the math & listen for yourself (if G3 has made a pass thru your town - only the Boston show remains)
Now, before this reads like a complete Yngwie bash (hey - you haven't even read my Vai/Satch commentary yet!) I want to reitterate that he can play the guitar and hit the notes with the best of them. He's got his vibe and his range and he stays within it well. Uli meets Blackmore meets frantic harmonic minor playing. Going into the show i figured 45-minutes of Yngwie would be just about right, but now I'm not sure if a 2-hour set would have been better or worse. Perhaps given the luxury of a longer set he could slow down a bit and focus more on the song structure more instead of blowing out the songs w/ overplaying. At least that is what I would hope. His backup band was capable but not comparable to his original "Rising Force" from my memory. That hurt because his memorable songs are all off the first couple albums.
Conclusion - Overall he was a good addition to G3. I enjoyed Kenny Wayne the best as the 3rd G but the crowd's reaction to him was pretty good all around. The usher i spoke to said he liked YJM and Satch, not Vai so from an outsider's viewpoint even the YJM bashers must realize people & non-guitarists can enjoy his music. No doubt his physical attributes limits him onstage, but he attempts to put on a good show and bring energy to the guitar (ie. not just standing looking at his fretboard ala EJ or JP). Credit him for being true to himself and his musical views, even if they're 15+ years beyond expiration date
Steve's set started monotonously with him sitting and playing his white tripleneck. My rule as a concert goer is they should NEVER sit in a set unless it's a 3-hr show and you're doing an acoustic number (ala 1970s Led Zep). My buddy commented it was too much like a music store demo - I grinned begrudgingly, but could not disagree. Maybe I was agitated because he was sitting too low and a bit too far back where two large monitors emcumbered my photography
Either way the triple-neck part picked up ALOT as he stood up and interacted with Dave as fretted notes on the triple neck while Steve played too ... this brought some ENERGY to the set
Steve ripped into an overhauled G3 set, FLOG not widthstanding. The song list was a mish-mosh of some less worthy (of a short set) cuts and low-energy songs with the exception of Wisper and a Prayer. So from my point of view the only "songs" that were highlights were the two mentioned. Now, I must say the interaction within the vai band was OUTSTANDING and a notable improvement of any past Vai show i've experienced except perhaps the frantic Attitude Song finale of the first G3 (before it got stale). The harmonic/fast picking/soloing thing with Billy, Dave, Tony & Steve was enjoyable and allowed you to appreciate the unreal musicianship that was on the stage. That was worth the price of admission and a real treat to watch. His background band was mixed in nicely w/ Vai, and unlike some of the other shows Dave really could be heard w/ his rhythms as well as Tony & Billy.
Conclusion - Musicianship aside, this was Vai's least impressive G3 set. IMvHO he should have come out with something like "fire in the house" or "greasy kid stuff" and get the energy level WAAAAY up. A few offline people I spoke to (not vai zealots - people who like Vai's music, don't buy every album but like guitar orientated music) said Vai's energy was not there like in the past shows. They were probably correct, maybe 30 shows in 35 days has taken it's toll. With the level of expectations of a Vai set unrealistically high, this still must be considered an outstanding performance and an overall enjoyable set. It is nice to see different songs performed and with his large catalog of music it's tough to pick/choose and please everyone. No doubt I've become spoiled having seen many exceptional 2+ hour Vai shows so the G3 restrictions & tradeoffs must be factored.
Joe is simply amazing and timeless, but his G3 set was monotonous to someone like myself who has seen many full-length Joe shows over the years. His energy also seemed a bit down, and his set-list featured too many "played these at G3 already" songs and nothing that was improvised, stretched out or remotely unexpected. I don't care for Stu live, so I did not miss his schtick, which allowed an extra song to be played.
John Petrucci joined Joe for the final two songs and did a nice job jamming with Satch. Perhaps this is the "new and exciting" part of Satch's set - and it was nice - even JP haters would enjoy the moment. These guys seemed to be genuinely having fun and that is always good to see from an audience perspective.
Conclusion - Joe was spot on for the most part but delivered just what you expected. The G3 teaser makes you long for full Satch show coming off a memorable new album.
The G5 Jam
Neil Schon joined the Jam w/ Joe and Petrucci, Steve & Ynwgie making for 5 guitarist, Sheehan and Satch's rhythm guitarist too. Lets start to say it was a treat to see 5 legends on stage having a good time playing and interacting. I didn't see anything but the guys soaking up the moment, the crowd and enjoying the experience... and I was right there leaning on the stage enjoying it too
So while it's nice to see these guys on stage, the problem is that there is an overload of sonic info, especially during rhythm parts. They SHOULD have had ONE designated rhythm player and just let the rest cut in on solos. This would have greately reduced the monotony factor and allowed you to follow the song structure & hear the vocals not just the BOOM-BOOM-BOOM bass notes & clashingly overplayed main riffs. The sonic muzzle would have really helped noisy songs like Voodoo Chile & Rockin in the Free World. You might conclude that Little Wing was the G5 Jam highlight cause it was melllower and more tasteful in every way to my ear.
I overheard one guy walking out say "I don't think i could take one more guitar solo tonight". LOL. The crowd would have plenty of time to soak in a nice G3 memory and play back the show in their own mind.... glen