Steve has The Passion
I can’t believe it was 25 years ago that I got Steve Vai’s Passion and Warfare album but when I heard Steve was touring the album for the first time it was a gig that I didn’t want to miss. I made the long trip to Bristol in glorious sunshine and all was well until I got to within a few streets of the venue when the traffic ground to a halt. It seems that the other nearby venues also had events on and the road to the carpark was packed solid with cars. I managed to park and get to the venue just in time and before I knew it the show started.
I could make out several pairs of feet standing behind a curtain at the back of the stage and as the venues interval music was turned off a large screen at the back of the stage played a clip from the Crossroads film.
This famous film is now thirty years old and sees Steve battle it out in a guitar riff battle with actor Ralph Macchio. It was the perfect start to what was going to be a very special night. As the clip drew to an end Steve’s band made their way onto the 02 stage where they were soon joined by the main man himself.
Steve’s entrance continued the visual delights as with very few venue lights on he walked on with a pair of green neon sunglasses fitted with red lasers and a guitar with a light up fretboard. With the smoke machine engulfing the stage this created a visual the likes of which I had never seen before and is going to take some beating. The sound was spot on and although Steve’s guitar may have been slightly higher than the rest of the band I think the mix was just right. As the first song came to an end Steve removed the glasses and switched guitars. As I stood in awe of his playing style I also got the impression that this is a guy who just wants to play his guitar and entertain people. Several songs went by before Steve addressed the crowd and again I got the impression he was glad to be there.
Throughout the night the large screen played a big part in the show as different artists, video clips, and psychedelic artwork played on it. Artists that had the privilege of being part of the night included Brian May, Joe Satriani, John Petrucci, Frank Zappa, and this just added a little extra so whoever came up with the idea deserves a pat on the back. The fact there was no support band meant that Steve had a longer than normal set to play and the way he mixed new material with the Passion and Warfare tracks was a real treat.
As we got to the two hour mark Steve announced that this would be the last song but as this song came to an end he decided to play another. After this final song he got a couple of fans from the crowd to help write a new song. The woman had brought with her a portrait of Steve and promptly got him to sign it for her. As he did this he joked with her asking if he should add his email address and mobile number. After he had signed it she produced a birthday card for him and although it was a day late he seemed quite surprised and asked the man who was pulled out from the crowd if he had got him a card. He then got the two fans to sing different parts and the band played them to make a new song that Steve then said may be a hit in Bulgaria. As the song finished he thanked the fans and they got to sit at the side of the stage as Steve played what was to be the last song of the night. During this song he invited the woman back onto the stage and as she stood with her hands in the air Steve put his guitar over her head whilst playing it. He then continued to play it from behind her as she continued to dance.
As the song neared the end whilst still playing he removed his guitar and stood with it hanging from his left hand and somehow he was still playing it. He then brought his band to the front of the stage where they took the applause whilst bowing to the crowd.
This amazing display was over so I left the venue and joined the crowd of people that were waiting at the stage door in the hope they might get to meet their idol. As the time went by I contemplated joining those who had given up but decided to stick it out with perhaps as many as fifty other people.Then the stage door opened but it was a false alarm as Dragonforce guitarist Herman Li left the building. He spoke to the few of us who knew who he was and signed a few autographs before getting on the tour bus.
Eventually Steve made his way out of the venue and seemed taken back by the size of the crowd that had waited to meet him but took the time to chat with everyone whilst signing things and having his photo taken with the fans. Several people even got him to draw his logo on them so they could get it tattooed. Steve also let slip to one of these fans that he had designed this logo himself so these fans now had an original Steve Vai piece of artwork on them. As I shook hands and thanked Steve for signing my photos I left for my car a very happy fan.
Full gallery can be seen here.
Catch Steve on tour!