Steve Vai: Where the Wild Things Are

Steve Vai
Where the Wild Things Are
(Favored Nations)

Over the decades, guitar virtuoso Steve Vai has been known for extraordinary guitar playing techniques, not to mention his state-of-the-art guitar designs of his signature series Ibanez Jem guitar. It is Vai in fact who came up with the seven-string guitar.

All that comes to play in this sold-out show which was recorded at the State Theatre in Minneapolis, Minn.

The two-hour-and-40-minute concert opens with Vai coming out in a warlock-esque coat with his stylish sunglasses and a green Ibanez guitar that has a lighted body. He looks like he just stepped off a UFO as he takes center stage and breaks into “Paint Me Your Face.”

The theatrics don’t let up until 26 songs, and some silly banter, later. Most of the material he slings on his arsenal of six-strings is new, and it gives Vai the chance to show off some amazing guitar chops that would certainly be hard to match. Scales after scales along with double finger-tapping on the fret board, and more – it’s all here. His playing is so tight and explosive you are just waiting for his custom Jem guitars to break, or at the very least, the tremolo bar to snap off.

As mind-blowing as Vai’s guitar playing is, he can’t reach these heights alone on “Where the Wild Things Are.” The addition of virtuoso violinists Alex DePue and Ann Marie Calhoun truly make these songs so much better. Vai is also backed by Bryan Beller (bass), Jeremy Colson (drums), Dave Weiner (guitar and sitar) and Zack Wiesinger (lap steel).

Indeed, Steve Vai is one amazing guitar player with his technical mastery, but after an hour or so it all just blurs together and becomes guitar masturbation. At well over two hours, all this soloing is just too much and too technical. I am more of a fan for feeling and emotion put into the guitar. Give me a little bit of sloppiness and whole lot of emotion. Don’t get me wrong, this style of playing has its place, and is entreating to watch, especially if you are a guitar player, but it was just too long to really get stoked about the entire performance.