The G3 Tour 2024 shredded through the Magnolia San Diego

On Wednesday February 7th, the G3 Reunion Tour 2024 featuring legendary guitarists Joe Satriani, Eric Johnson, and Steve Vai came to the Magnolia in El Cajon.  The Magnolia reopened in 2019 after a 7 million dollar renovation, and the 1200+ seat venue is a partnership with the city of El Cajon. This unbelievable show of guitar legends was absolutely mind-blowing and was a perfect fit for this intimate venue.  This type of heavy rock show drew a demographic of fans who appreciated the ability to sit and intimately study the actions of the performers, enjoy the musical mastery, and not necessarily fight through a mosh pit to do so.

Guitarist Steve Vai was the first performer up on this fantastic evening.  The legendary guitarist, three time Grammy Award winner, and former contemporary of Frank Zappa, David Lee Roth, and Whitesnake delivered his smooth technical mastery effortlessly as he slid through several styles of music, soloing away in front of a talented backing band.  His songs at the Magnolia included “Avalancha,” “Little Pretty,” “Tender Surrender,” “Zeus in Chains,” “For the Love of God,” and the highlight “Teeth of the Hydra” featuring Vai’s custom made three neck Hydra instrument, which was breathtaking to see him play in person.  The Hydra is multi headed beast of an instrument with a half fretless 12 sting guitar on top, a 7 string guitar in the middle and on the bottom a half fretless bass, plus there is a mini-harp. Vai truly manhandles the beast of an instrument soloing on each neck and violently strumming sympathetic chords throughout.

The second performer of the evening was the legendary rock/blues guitarist Eric Johnson.  Hailing from Texas, this Grammy winner is best known for his classic “Cliffs of Dover” which was a Guitar Hero mainstay.  One of the only complaints of the evening was Johnson’s guitar volume, with most of his sound being unfortunately being projected to only the left side of the theater from his massive stack of amps.  However, his powerful rhythm section and backing band was on point and kept the set entertaining for those of us on the right.  His set included covers and originals in a variety of musical styles that showed off his tremendous soloing ability.  His set included “Land of 1000 Dances (Chris Kenner Cover),” “Righteous,” “Trail of Tears,” “Impressions (John Coltrane Cover),” “Freeway Jam (Jeff Beck Cover),” “Desert Rose,” and a long winding beautifully melodic guitar solo into the fiery finale “Cliffs of Dover.”

The last performer on this fantastic evening of music, before an epic ending group jam, was guitar wizard Joe Satriani.  This New York guitarist has had 15 Grammy Award Nominations, and sold over ten million albums, which makes him the bestselling instrumental rock guitarist of all time.  Early in his career, Satirani was famously also a guitar instructor who taught the likes of Kirk Hammett, Larry Lalonde, and even Steve Vai how to improve their skills.  He also has played and worked with legendary artists including Mick Jagger, Ritchie Blackmore, and the super group Chickenfoot. Satriani played a fantastic set at The Magnolia that included “Raspberry Jam Delta-V,” his classic “Surfing With the Alien,” “Satch Boogie,” “Sahara,” “Nineteen Eighty,” “Big Bad Moon,” “Always With Me, Always With You,” and “Summer Song.”

Ending the evening was a fantastic group jam with all three guitarists covering “Crossroads” by Cream, “Spanish Castle Magic” by Jimi Hendrix, and finishing with a raucous “Born to be Wild” bu Steppenwolf.  The sold out crowd at the Magnolia seemed to love this final group jam and it ended the night on an incredibly high note.  Be sure to check out Satriani and Vai on their own duo tour which is coming back to Harrah’s Resort Socal in Valley Center on May 10th.

Photos and Review by: Alex Matthews