To receive the mere honour of being in the presence of a musician as esteemed as Steve Vai, if only for a few moments of virtuosity, is indeed a treat for anyone who appreciates the finer things in life. One has to be a connoisseur of the meandering ethereal Lydian scales and fantastical chord progressions that emit a cryptic esoteric, almost occult feel to the proceeding onslaught through your very being.
This is not a concert but a shamanic cleansing and Steve Vai is soaking the audience in healing and awakening forces that enlighten.
If you have not heard of Steve Vai before reading this, then you have something seriously missing from your fucking soul, so you better get learning. Steve is no looper, DJ, or autotune monkey. He is a real fucking musician, a virtuoso who knows every scale, chord and mode ever discovered on the devil’s instrument, and he is also inventing new things as he goes along. Those little intonations, triple quadruple tapping and whammy bar embellishments are also part of the arsenal he utilises to, of course, show off his showmanship. Whilst the current music charts are full of talentless shit and banal template mediocrity, real musicians like Vai continue to serve those audiences who appreciate musicality, melody and true dedication to the art of music.
Where 49 meets 61 somewhere in Clarksdale, Mississippi is where Robert Johnson is said to have been given the gift of fretboard knowledge, and it is almost a certainty that Steve Vai was given the same Mephistophelian gift somewhere. During the concert, the screen even shows off scenes from the 1986 film Crossroads in which Vai’s character, a minion of Papa Legba falls foul of the Karate Kid, but that’s all fiction. In reality, Vai may be 62, but he is still reaching musical plateaus to challenge himself and indeed his myriad of listeners.
The endearing part of Vai’s compositional sense is to move from one place to the next with seamless ease, from a quiet moment to sudden torrents of blazing Zappatastic arpeggios bringing forth the vast array of effects pedals and racks of vintage/modern processing available to him.
If you ever get a chance to see Steve Vai in concert, brace yourself for an assault on your ears — a good assault.