When Steve Vai was once asked why most shredders play Ibanez, he responded, “Because there things you can only do on an Ibanez. Joe Satriani’s annual G3 tour showcases what results when you put one in the hands of three of the best virtuosos in the business. This year, Phil Collen (Def Leppard) and John Petrucci (Dream Theater) joined the tour and turned it into a dizzying cross genre display of technical proficiency. Each artist gave a solo performance representing their different styles. Ironically, Collen, who spent over twenty years with British hair metal icons Def Leppard was the blues man of the nigh. He played as part of his side project Delta Deep along Wwith soulful vocalist Debbie Blackwell-Cook. Collen opened with an appropriately jazzy cover of Billy Cobham’s “Quadrant 4.” Throughout his short set of Delta Deep material, he played several scorching runs challenging Blackwell-Cook to vocally match pitch and speed which she did effortlessly. Ditto when bassist Robert DeLeo (Stone Temple Pilots) challenged her with the four string. Collen paved the way for Petrucci by closing with a killer performance the band’s own “Down in the Delta.” It resulted in a full house standing ovation for what was effectively the opening act. Petrucci came out looking menacing as ever with his signature long black hair and a matching beard Billy Gibbons might envy. He unabashedly announced himself as ”the metal portion of your evening.” Of course, virtuoso concerts are devoid of recognizable three minute songs with lyrics or familiar melodies but an astute listener may have recognized the opening Wonder Woman theme. After playing the somber “Jaws of Life,” he said, “I always start with something dark, so I’m going to lighten it up. This is called “The Happy Song.” Though the change in tone was barely discernible, a common thread was the feeling that he may have been stashing a second guitarist backstage. Of the three players, Petrucci seemed to get the most out of his guitar.  As it turns out, he was playing the seven string Ibanez designed by Vai which may have provided a sonic advantage. He wrapped his 45 minute set with “Glasgow Kiss” off of 2005’s “Suspended Animation.”

Satriani is the showman of the group. He is interactive with the crowd, taking time to tell a joke or the story behind a song. He’ll play with his teeth and often sports a full chrome guitar. He played many of his classics, including, “Satch Boogie,” and “Always With Me, Always with You.”

The evening culminated after Satriani’s set when he invited Collen and Petrucci back on stage for the G3 jam. The trio smoked its way through Deep Purple’s “Highway Star,” Stevie Wonder’s 1972 hit, Superstition,” and “Going Down”   Blackwell-Cook was in on vocal sand added a layer of gospel soul to the final 20 minutes.