After months of anticipation, the G3 2024 tour has officially kicked off, with fan-captured footage from the opening night giving us our first sonic taste of Eric Johnson, Steve Vai and Joe Satriani teaming up nearly three decades after the tour's inception.
Whilst many of the world’s guitar-obsessed eyes are cast towards NAMM 2024, Vai, Satch and Johnson reunited onstage at the Rialto Theatre in Tucson, Arizona, to deliver the goods in typically virtuosic fashion.
A cirque de shred tour first conceptualized by Satriani back in ’95, the G3 format has since toured with various combinations of A-list guitarists over the years. Previous line-ups have included the likes of John Petrucci, Paul Gilbert, Yngwie Malmsteen, Michael Schenker, Kenny Wayne Shepherd and Steve Morse amongst many others.
Most notably, though, the current tour is the first time the original lineup of Satch, Vai and Johnson has hit the road together since a 2000 Asian tour. It proved to be quite the curtain-raiser, with the three electric guitar icons navigating their own solo sets before uniting at the end for a show-stopping jam.
Steve Vai's opening night set included Tender Surrender, Avalancha and Zeus in Chains, from his 2022 album Inviolate. It also accommodated the groove machine of Little Pretty and 1990 tear-jerker, For The Love of God.
Satch and Johnson also revisited some of their own respective hits. Unsurprisingly, Johnson took his Fender Stratocaster for a spin around Cliffs of Dover, executed with a typical ruthless flawlessness, while Satriani used his Ibanez signature guitar to power through Summer Song.
The G3 finale saw Satriani and Johnson join Vai for three classics in Crossroads, Spanish Castle Magic and the leather jacket-clad Born to be Wild. You can see a performance of Crossroads below.
It was a triumphant return for the trio, prompting one commenter on YouTube to gush, “Sounds better than ever!”
Speaking recently to Guitar World about the classic lineup’s return, Satriani said: “It was this crazy idea, but it turned into a great success, so why not celebrate it? I'm so excited that Eric and Steve were up for it. We’ll arrange the show in a way that reflects the times. It's a labor of love shared by us all.”
For Vai, it marks his first return to the stage since last year's Inviolate tour. One of the biggest road trips of his career, it took its toll on the 63-year-old icon, who spent much of the tour wielding his dazzling, if not intimidating, three-necked Hydra guitar.
“I had some physical challenges with my shoulder, fingers and wrist,” he admitted to Guitar World earlier this month. “Having the Hydra and wondering how I’d navigate that was also a challenge. All that was a mystery, initially; and when I kicked things off in Europe I wasn’t in great shape. I couldn’t play the Hydra and I was in a lot of pain – I didn't feel like I was delivering on all cylinders.
“But as the tour progressed, things shifted into gear. I felt like I’d reached another dimension of performing.”
The G3 tour continues in California tonight, which is perfect timing for NAMM goers, before dates in Scottsdale, Las Vegas, Spokane, Seattle and Fresno. It wraps up with two LA dates February 9 and 10, with the Vai/Satriani tour kicking off March 22 in Orlando, Florida, at the Hard Rock Café.
For more information on the upcoming tour, head over to the G3 website.