In Defense of… Phil Collen on the G3 Tour

The G3, it’s the elite guitarists tour starring Joe Satriani, John Petrucci or Steve Vai and some other guitarist that the Satch deems worthy.  This time around the G3 tour consists of Joe Satriani, John Petrucci and a very interesting choice for the third player:  Phil Collen of Def Leppard.

Now I know there’s a lot of skeptics out there about this.  I mean, I read the comments on the Facebook announcement.  They were frankly quite brutal and unfair.  Things like ‘Two great players and one crappy one’, or ‘why the hell is Phil Collen touring with Satch and Petrucci?’  And all I could think was, ‘Do your freaking research!’  Phil Collen is one of the most accomplished players out there.  Just because he plays in a (GASP) very commercially successful band with hits.  Simply look at a pinch of history.  Collen was really, at the end of the day, a hired gun hired by producer Mutt Lang in order to complete ‘Pyromania’ on time.  But he really fit in well, I don’t think there’s any doubt about that now.  Not enough?  Just listen to the guitar solo on the ninth track on ‘Hysteria’, ‘Run Riot’.  By the way, everyone talks about how Def Lep do a million takes because they’re a studio band.  But the reality is that Collen did that and many other excellent solos in the Leps career in one take.

Not enough?  Than check out Leppard live.  Listen to ‘Mirror Ball’ or ‘Live… In the Round, In Your Face.’  The latter can be purchased with the 30th anniversary of ‘Hysteria’ which was released a few weeks ago.  Phil, like many of his 80’s contemporaries, really lets go live.  He really just lets it rip.  Like, rip rip.  As in I didn’t know he was that good.  Because when it comes to the hits and all that, playing on that caliber isn’t necessary.  And Collen understands that.  Which is what also makes him an amazing, G3 worthy player.  He knows when to be melodic and he knows when to let it go like no other.  I mean really, he has a shred technique that is incredibly hard to master.  It’s just pure, plucking the strings and having the left fingers be at the exact right place at the right time.  No finger hammering, no cheating.  Just hours and hours of practice that can only be acquired by being stranded on a small Caribbean island after a boat wreck for 12 years.  Oh, and nobody, and I mean NOBODY, guitar screams like Phil Collen.  That’s just a fact.

So to all the nay sayers, to all the doubters, I just gotta say.  Check out Collen on the G3 tour.  You’ll get to see what he can really do.  Because it’s true, he usually doesn’t shred to his full potential in Def Leppard.  So if you’re basing your opinions on that, which isn’t wrong, just take a step back and realize that there’s more to this player than selling millions and millions of records.

The Run Riot solo, done in one take.

Listen to that guitar scream at 16 seconds.

I think this speaks for itself.

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2 thoughts on “In Defense of… Phil Collen on the G3 Tour”

  1. He’s good, and I’m not taking away from Phil, but we’re talking about G3 here which typically features true virtuosic players of an incredibly high caliber. If you watch Phil, there are moments of shred but they are confined to fairly simple patterns, no doubt practiced ad nauseum. His shred vocabulary is limited and while it impresses the masses at a Def Leppard concert, it’s not going to impress an auditorium full of guitarists and shred aficionados. Phil represents a level that many seasoned guitarists reach, which I’d define as “really good.” But most players who grew up in his era, like me, who’ve spent any significant time woodshedding can play on a similar level. It’s really nothing spectacular. Guys like Guthrie Govan are light years ahead of Phil. Again, not taking away from Phil as he’s a great player. But you don’t put a Camry on a Nascar track.

    1. That’s valid. Honestly, that’s how I feel about Malmsteen. Everything he plays is ‘Arpeggios from Hell’. It’s just scale patters played really fast over and over again.

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