Steve Vai live at the Manchester Apollo Friday 7th December 2012
As far as superstar guitarists go Steve Vai is probably at the top of the tree. Billed as an “Evening With Steve Vai” and having already been told that due to illness that there was no support and that Steve was going to play an extended set I was not disappointed in the least when Steve and his band walked onstage at 8pm and stormed into what would be the first song in a 24 song set. Looking like a member of Prince’s band and even claiming that he had borrowed Prince’s pants Steve certainly looked the part although this first outfit was merely the first of a number of “Costume” changes.
One thing that cannot be argued was the man has style whichever way you look at it. As a guitarist Steve Vai has a jaw droppingly amazing talent although it is not all 100mph, as many notes as you can get into it style of playing. No, Steve Vai is more than capable of smoking up the fret board better than any speed merchant but in this case there is a good mix of styles and feel throughout the concert which all eventually boiled down to Steve Vai’s own unique style and feel for the instrument that so many people want to play.
A quick heads up for the excellent band accompanying Steve here as well. We have the standard bass (Phillip Bynoe), Drums (Jeremy Colson) and second guitar (Dave Weiner) but the really unusual member of the band is the harpist. Deborah Henson-Conant is almost as big a showstopper as Steve Vai and your eyes are drawn to her and while at times the subtlety of the harp is lost sometimes it really cuts through and really adds to the show and of course Deborah does get to shine in her own solo showcase as do all the members.
The set is built around a mix of the old and known amongst material from the latest album the latest album The Story Of Light and five songs from the album feature in the set (Racing The World, Velorum, Gravity Storm, Weeping China Doll and The Moon And I)
Highlights are hard to identify purely because the whole show was a highlight from start to finish, however if I had to pick one moment it was For the Love of God. I have been a huge admirer of that particular song since first hearing it on Passion and Warfare more than twenty years ago. The song never fails to get to me and tonight Steve’s playing was superb. Passion and Warfare still stands up as an album and obviously Steve agrees as he also includes Sisters, The Audience Is Listening and The Animal and all without exception were lapped up by the audience.
Nice to see an acoustic mini set thrown into the mix as well and also shock horror Steve Vai sings. I say shock horror because for some this will have been out of place c’mon I heard one guy say just play. It was all part of a thoroughly enjoyable concert though and as such did not detract in any way from the rest of the set.
Throughout the concert Steve showed he had a great rapport with the audience and this was highlighted when he invited three members up out of the audience for the Build A Song part of the show and even allowed one of the members of the audience to hold his guitar for a photo. The whole piece was an enjoyable not to mention amusing part of the show with shades of one of Steve’s former employers Frank Zappa.
It looked as though the show was recorded for potential future release for a live album and if this is the case then it was almost a perfect concert and Steve should get much mileage out of the performance which stretched out to almost three hours. Not bad for a cold Friday night in Manchester, in fact Bloody brilliant
- Racing the World x
- Velorum x
- Building the Church
- Tender Surrender
- Gravity Storm x
- Guitar Solo (Dave Weiner acoustic)
- Weeping China Doll x
- The Moon and I x
- The Animal
- Whispering a Prayer
- The Audience Is Listening
- Harp Solo (Deborah Henson-Conant)
- Rescue Me or Bury Me
- Treasure Island
- Salamanders in the Sun
- Pusa Road
- Drum Solo
- The Ultra Zone
- Build Me a Song ("New" song every night)
- For the Love of God