Steve Vai the guitar guy

It has been quite the week for guitar virtuoso fans of Luxembourg, first up it was Joe Satriani at the weekend and last night it was the turn of his old time student, Steve Vai who took to the stage at den Atelier.

Known as one of the greatest guitarists of all time, Vai is currently touring his landmark album “Passion & Warfare” which is regarded as one of the most important rock instrumental albums ever released.

Although Passion & Warfare was his second solo album Vai had already spent years learning from the likes of Frank Zappa & Whitesnake both of which he toured with, as well as being a pupil of Satriani’s.

Now 25 years on from “Passion & Warfare” he felt it was the right time to finally tour the album from start to finish, after a few other classic Vai tracks had warmed us up first.

As the lights dimmed and the screen behind the stage began to play an extract from the 80s guitar film “Crossroads”, a hooded Vai took to the stage with lasers coming from neon green glasses with a blue neon fret board, it was quite a fitting entrance for the man they call the “master of the space age guitar”.

He kicked into “Bad Horsie” with all the verve and gusto that we’ve come to expect from the likes of Vai, his fingers running up and down the neck of the guitar at incredible speed, making sounds that only few can conjure.

Vai ditched the neon look as he took us on a journey through some of his favourites from “The Crying Machine” and “Gravity Storm” before the searing atmospheric sounds of “Whispering a Prayer”.

By this point Vai hadn’t muttered a word to the crowd but once he started he was full of nostalgia for the crazy hair and videos of the 80s & 90s. Having already played 45 minutes, some acts would be finishing up but they were just getting started.

Vai mentioned he hadn’t toured this album before because he’d never had the right band until now, however true that is he certainly has an incredible band now. With an exceptional rhythm section in Philip Bynoe on bass and Jeremy Colson on drums giving us the funk when required, leaving the unenviable task of keeping up with Vai to guitarist Dave Weiner.

The opener “Liberty” showed old footage of Vai playing along with Brian May on the screen and it wouldn’t be the last time Vai jammed with an old guitar legend, as the night progressed Joe Satriani & John Petrucci would appear on pre-recorded videos to jam on “Answers” & “The Audience is Listening” respectively. The wizardry and tricks Vai pulled off never let up all evening, with one searing solo after another, who needs vocals when your guitar can do all the talking.

As the album came to its conclusion I thought that would be that, but not Vai, they delved into an old Zappa track “Stevie’s Spankings” before the “Build a Song” segment where he invited two members of the audience to hum rhythm and guitar melodies that are then transformed into songs on the spot from the incredible band.

At over two and a half hours there was surely plenty for all the Vai fans to feel they got their monies worth and with the new album “Modern Primitive” released just days ago he’ll no doubt be back again soon.

29.06.16 – den Atelier

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