Gig review: G3 2018 – JOE SATRIANI, JOHN PETRUCCI, ULI JON ROTH – Manchester Apollo, 27 April 2018

G3 2018 - JOE SATRIANI, JOHN PETRUCCI, ULI JON ROTH - Manchester Apollo, 27 April 2018

There was a moment in this latest iteration of the global guitar circus that it all fell into place. Two-and-a-half hours in, during a stellar version of ‘Super Funky Badass’ Joe Satriani underlined why we worship our guitar heroes. The only thing lacking was a surprise cameo from G3 veteran John Petrucci, instead of the earnest spotlight hogging of Mike Keneally, in what became an epic guitar jam.

This also underlined what was lacking from tonight’s proceedings: an element of surprise and the unpredictable. Of course it all gets played out in social media and on YouTube so we know the plot well in advance.

G3 2018 - JOE SATRIANI - Manchester Apollo, 27 April 2018

Perhaps unkind, but tonight’s show did seem very much like Joe Satriani and special guests. The only guitarist with a new album to promote, Satch proved yet again he is the true master, in terms of showmanship, style, and musicianship.  And continuing productivity.

As if to rub this in, Uli Jon Roth and John Petrucci were allowed basic and mostly irrelevant back projections. Satch on the other hand had perfectly synched archive footage together with a more recent clip for ‘Cherry Blossoms’ plus real time video. It was all a bit unfair.

G3 2018 - ULI JON ROTH - Manchester Apollo, 27 April 2018

But what, you say, of the riffage? Uli Jon Roth naturally majored on his Scorpions heritage although there was a poignant tribute to his late younger brother Zeno. Roth was the “old school” protagonist in tonight’s show but no less ground-breaking in his day.

G3 2018 - JOHN PETRUCCI - Manchester Apollo, 27 April 2018

Petrucci on the other hand hailed himself as the metal section of the show. His set merely emphasised that he’s only ever produced one solo album – Suspended Animation – in 2005 and it majored on robust riffs and florid shred. In fact, like Petrucci himself, best described as “muscular”. Now – the more so with Mike Mangini on drums – if only he’d dropped in a couple of Dream Theater classics…

G3 2018 - JOE SATRIANI, JOHN PETRUCCI, ULI JON ROTH - Manchester Apollo, 27 April 2018

When the assembled multitude came together finally for the hallowed “guitar jam” it was more a polite acknowledgment of talent rather than any jostling for position.  A true ensemble piece with Satch taking a more supportive role and the limelight graciously extended to Uli Jon’s talented henchmen on the night including guitarist/vocalist Niklas Turmann.

For those who can go back to the late-1980s, G3 is like the modern equivalent of “Night Of The Guitars” (we remember “Guitar Speak” with affection) and guitar heroism remains a uniquely male obsession. With bromance firmly back on the world agenda, this alternative global summit is one that even Trump and Macron might wish to consider.

Review and photos by David Randall

Joe Satriani setlist
Energy/Catbot/Satch Boogie/ Cherry Blossoms/ Thunder High On The Mountain/ Super Funky Badass / Circles / Always With Me, Always With You / Summer Song

G3 2018 - JOE SATRIANI, JOHN PETRUCCI, ULI JON ROTH - Manchester Apollo, 27 April 2018

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