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DVD Review: G3 – Live in Tokyo

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Recently, I reviewed the upcoming CD release of G3: Live in Tokyo, as it happens I have also been able to sample the DVD release of the same show. It is a pre-release copy, and as such does not have the final audio, or any extras, it doesn’t even have menus. What it does have, however is the video of the performances.

So just to recap what is on the disk, in terms of the songs. John Petrucci performs “Glasgow Kiss” and “Damage Control.” Steve Vai performs “The Audience is Listening,” “Building a Church,” and “K’m Pee Du We.” Joe Satriani performs “Up In Flames,” “Searching,” and “War.” Finally, there is the jam session featuring Jimi Hendrix’ “Foxey Lady,” ZZ Top’s “La Grange,” and Deep Purple’s “Smoke on the Water.” If you want to read my review on the performances, please refer to my review of the CD.

The DVD is the way this show should be seen. Just being able to hear this trio of virtuoso’s is a treat in and of itself, but being able to see them play, watching them make it look so easy, that is the way to go. Watching as John Petrucci takes the stage with fellow Dream Theater alum, drummer Mike Portnoy in tow, is great. I have seen him in person with Dream Theater, but this is the first I have seen him perform solo material, and proving he is the real deal next to the legends of Vai and Satch. Next up was Steve Vai, with one of the best bass players, Billy Sheehan, joining him. Vai was possibly my first guitar hero, he was the first solo player I had ever really listened to, and watching his fingers fly over the fretboard, and clearly having a good time in front of the crowd, was magic. Not to mention his assist of Sheehan on bass. And of course, how could we forget Satch? I am least familiar with his work, but he is the elder statesman of the group, and founding member of the G3 tour, once again letting his fingers do the talking.

It is the last 20+ minutes of the DVD that I found to be the most interesting, and that is the all star jam. All three of these guitarists on stage, joined at various times by Mike Portnoy and Billy Sheehan. The three of them trading solos and riffs while twisting and adapting the three classic songs to their will. Playing with them, showing them respect, but clearly playing off of them going of in new tangents.

The DVD is clearly the best way to experience this show. Not just hearing them, but seeing them. There are no rock star ego trips at work here, unless you count the idea of a G3 tour. The stage is stripped down, no elaborate sets, no pyro, no backdrops, nothing extraneous to distract the audience. No smoke and mirrors are needed to cover up any lacking performance. If they screw up, the crowd is there to pick up on it, conversely they are also there to bear witness to the masterful performances. There may be no bells and whistles, but they are not needed when in the presence of such talent.

Again, this was a pre-release disk. It is presented in widescreen, a ratio that appears to be about 1.78:1, and the audio is Dolby Digital 2.0. It looks and sounded good, although I believe the final product will have a beefed up 5.1 mix. In any case, any fan of shredding guitar needs to see this.


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