Steve Vai

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author BV date 28/11/12 venue Amager Bio, Copenhagen, DEN

Upon arriving at Amager Bio, I was met by a large but unexpected crowd, consisting of all ages, from the smallest of kids to the downright elderly, which coincidentally showed me that Steve Vai is apparently still in sort of a high demand, which I had actually doubted.

Steve Vai

Steve Vai entered the stage with a loud bang at exactly 20:15 and the pressure was on from the beginning. Steve Vai wasted no time in showing off his blazing virtuoso guitar-skills in a three song cavalcade featuring “Intro”, “Racing the World” and “Velorum”, before taking the time to even acknowledge the audience by speaking to it, and teaching it a lesson or two in the art of photography. – But that’s cool, he lets the guitar do most of the talking anyway. When he did have something to say however, it was dripping with a great sense of humor and a great deal of irony towards himself, the band and the utterly flamboyant and somewhat awkward dance-moves he pulled off. And flamboyant is just word to describe his on-stage persona.

Apart from being one hell of a guitar-player, he managed to meticulously perform most of the earlier songs in the set to absolute perfection while maintaining constant movement around the stage, which is by all means an impressive feat from a 52 year old guitar player. What probably surprised me the most was that he decided to play one of his hit songs, “Tender Surrender” extremely early in the set, as if the hit status didn’t even matter. He really seemed to trust the audience to stick around and see the whole gig, and for the most part, they actually did. Vai was backed by an incredibly tight band consisting of Jeremy Colson (Drums), Dave Weiner (Guitar, keyboards), Philip Bynoe (Bass, vocals) and Deborah Henson-Conant (Harp, Keyboards). The musicians of his backing band got multiple chances to show off their own impressive skills by performing short interlude solo-tracks while Vai went off to the dressing room to change – which he did multiple times during the 3-hour show.

Even though Mr. Vai himself performed extremely well, bordering on flawless, the show did have its issues. The ballad “The Moon and I” from his new album The Story of Light is an instrumentally beautiful song, but the fact that Vai decided to sing on the track as well, had a mildly devastating effect. His vocals are, to say the least, not as impressive as his guitar-playing which was sadly reflected in the audience, as several audience members chose this moment as a great opportunity to converse with each other. What a pity. Furthermore Vai had decided to put in a solid 30 minutes of acoustic music in the otherwise tempo-filled shredding paradise, which seemed awkwardly misplaced and plain out boring compared to rest of the show. Vai did however make an audience grabbing comeback during the last 45 minutes of the show, in which he decided to let two young audience members help him create a song. A song that primarily ended up sounding like something off of a 70’s porn-soundtrack, but it was cool nonetheless. Vai ended the show with “For the Love of God”, before entering the stage one last time to perform a blistering encore in the form of the extremely powerful track “Tarus Bulba” – a powerful ending to an overall powerful concert, in which I felt wildly entertained during most of the show, with the exception of the acoustic set which I would have preferred to be left out. But it was a tremendously cool night, all in all.

Photos by Peter Troest / Steve Vai

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