June 2nd 2016
The Sir Duke of Guitar was Steve Vai Wonderful at the Palladium tonight. This was a celebration of the 25th anniversary of 'Passion And Warfare', which he once described as: "Jimi Hendrix meets Jesus Christ at a party that Ben Hur threw for Mel Blanc... an adventure in melodic, symphonic, Heavy Metal metaphysics".
It was more than just a run-through of his keystone work with widdle set to max. In spite of being a fully instrumental set, there was warmth, humour and engagement in his performance as well as a front-of-house sound that packed a punch.
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Although the sequencing was unchanged, his fine band added a further dimension and colour to this classic album that was recorded almost entirely as a solo endeavour. This was complemented by choice pickings from his other releases, such as the broody 'Bad Horsie' that opened the show, the great 'Attitude Song' and a sublime extended version of 'Whispering A Prayer'.
To add levity to the virtuosity on display, Steve staged mock guitar battles against video recordings of fellow axemen John Petrucci on 'The Audience Is Listening' and Joe Satriani on 'Answers'. He also used some of his classic videos to enhance songs from the panoramic epic 'For The Love Of God' to the MTV kook of 'I Would Love To'.
It was also great to see an older and wiser Vai playing along with archive live videos featuring a younger, wilder Steve, performing with two of his great musical mentors, Brian May on 'Liberty' (Guitar Legends - Seville 1992) and 'Stevie's Spanking' from a Frank Zappa show in 1982.
Due to the tight curfew at the Palladium, the normally extended improvised song segment, based on audience rhythmic and melodic contributions, was somewhat short and perfunctory. Nevertheless, this gave Steve an extended opportunity to interact with the audience, who gave him and his longstanding telepathic band (Philip Bynoe, bass; Dave Weiner, guitar and Jeremy Colson, drums) a rightfully rapturous reception.
Steve Vai plays the last two UK concerts of the 'Passion And Warfare' 25th Anniversary tour, tonight at Brighton and tomorrow (June 7th) at Bristol. Tickets are available by clicking here.