Tonight Colston Hall celebrates the power of the electric guitar. As G3 2018 tour rolls into Bristol, Colston Hall is due for refurbishment and so the countdown of artists performing on the existing stage is running down.
First G3 god of the electric guitar on stage tonight was the mighty Uli Jon Roth. With a musical career that spans five decades including as part of the Scorpions, he was on top form tonight. With his distinctive Sky Guitar, bandanna and feathers he was imposing on stage. The set was a mix of Uli’s imposing rock and this included vocals delivered by guitarist Niklas Turmann. This was guitar played by a rock god with flowing hair and immense stage presence. There was a lightness as he flew as a guitar god reaching the sun on his flying horse Pegasus. Opening up with Sky Overture the packed house was immersed in guitar wizardry with his band adding layers and layers of tones and textures. With his multi-fret Sky-guitar he stretches the octaves and sounds across the forty minute set. Some numbers are raunchy and upbeat others flow with the dexterity of his fingers. We are bathing in an ocean of perfectly formed notes, this was no dreamy interlude. It is hard-hitting and emotional the bass is deep and booms through the auditorium. The dedication to his recently deceased brother, Zeno the emotions were captured in every phrase his guitar and lyric sung by Turmann. We’ll Burn The Skies was an epic dedication as Uli harnessed the inner Scorpion once again. The three guitars were at times spine-tingling. Uli has a real stage presence commanding our attention, making us forget that there are two more awesome guitarists following. Uli takes us with him as he struts his complex orchestrations on the guitar with two accompanying guitarists creating a unique ‘fretboard’ crescendo across the stage. Closing out the all too short segment with Fly To The Rainbow and Sails of Charon. Tonight we were in the presence of G3 and guitar god one Soaring like Pegasus Uli Jon Roth and his musicians definitely left an indelible mark in my musical memory bank as moments that will never fade
Now for a change of guitar direction with Dream Theatre’s John Petrucci. This trio of musicians produced a darker heavier sound reflecting back the guitar work of Uli Jon Roth. Petrucci opening not with a Dream Theatre number but one by British composer for motion pictures Rupert Gregson-Williams number, Wrath of the Amazons, with a more orthodox guitar sound, heavier, stronger darker and robust. With a retro 60’s/70’s kaleidoscopic signature Mesa backdrop, accompanied by percussive bass and dramatic tom-tom fueled drumming from Mike Mangini. The kit may be small the sound was immense. Completing the rhythm behind Petrucci was Dave LaRue. The darker Jaws of Life from Suspended Animation was followed with The Happy Song the mood was lightened as he played across the guitar strings with a virtuoso drama and skill. Petrucci was having fun on stage playing the guitar and the music he has created, with pure unadulterated shredding interspersed with mesmerizing lead breaks delivered with stunning clarity of tone. Closing out a set that was all too short the second god of guitars Phantasos (God of Surreal Dreams) John Petrucci closed out with another of his compositions Glasgow Kiss no head-butting on stage tonight the kiss from Glasgow was a melodic caress from the trio. No wonder this performance received a standing ovation from not just the many Dream Theatre fans listening tonight.
Next, and headlining at his own event Joe Satriani. The third guitar God of the evening. He is Apollo, Roman God of light and Music. With a new album What Happens Next many in the audience hoped the shortened set would deliver their personal favourites from this brilliant studio album. Opening the evening with the Silver guitar the symbol of the new album, tonight the show was kicked started with Energy from the current album what an awesome display of the power that is Satriani who has held us in his thrall for the last twenty-three years over sixteen albums. As ever the backdrop adds another dimension to the instrumentals augmenting the shapes and direction of the compositions. With Catbot and Satch Boogie we were are now drenched in the glorious manipulation of strings shaping the music on the album. With guitar/keyboard manipulation from Mike Kennelly we see hints of his approach of being the stuntman of guitar playing from the days of Zappa. The rhythm section is bassist Bryan Beller and new drummer Joe Travers. Before a note was played I had one wish tonight to hear Cherry Blossoms my favourite track live. The G3 gods shone down and my wish as granted. I was not disappointed. The deep pink cherry blossoms on the backdrop reflecting the music being created. As the guitar and keys replicated the beauty of falling cherry blossom in a Japanese Temple Garden. This slower number has an inner sense of calmness and is spiritually uplifting. With stormy weather evoked on Thunder High On The Mountain, the music crackled with charged electricity. We then saw a change of tempo as we had an energy and duelling between guitarists as we heard Super Funky Badass this was entertainment of the highest order. The new album sounded superb live. Then we were taken back deep into the back catalogue with Circles. Closing out the set to rapturous cheers with Summer Song and a standing ovation that was full of warmth and delight that Joe was surfing once again in Bristol.
G3 delivered, over three hours of spectacular guitar acrobatics with riffs, licks and lead breaks that were mouth-wateringly delicious. Three virtuosos of the modern electric guitar show the depth of versatility within the six-strings. Uli Jon Roth, John Petrucci and Joe Satriani’s sets were stupendous and the cherry on top of a Knickerbocker glory of guitar wizardry was the closing jam. The three classics from Deep Purple (Highway Star), Jimi Hendrix (All Along The Watchtower) and the night’s finale Led Zeppelin’s (Immigrant Song). The last two numbers were stretched and sustained as the guitarists took the lead, with Satriani even having a tambourine moment. This was jamming spread thickly with artistry, talent and immensely flavoursome. As the stage feel silent we knew this was a gastronomy of sound we were replete our guitar appetites satiated. As we left Colston happy driven by the force of the performance. May the force of G3 be with you.
Fri April 27 – O2 Apollo Manchester
Sun April 29 – Portsmouth Guildhall
Mon April 30 – Birmingham Town Hall and Symphony Hall