Monday, June 13, 2022

Steve Vai @ Trianon, Paris - June 13th, 2022

Because of his image of a guitar shredder, and his stints as a sideman for party boys David Lee Roth and David Coverdale in Whitesnake, it's easy to overlook the sheer musicality of Steve Vai's output. Yes, he plays crazy-fast runs, impossibly convoluted licks and dangerously acrobatic solos, but it's a means to an end and never the end itself. You don't have to be a muso to dig his work, although it helps: Vai might be the ultimate guitarist. He has Al DiMeola's dexterity, Rory Gallagher's sense of melody, David Gilmour's nuances, Jeff Beck's absolute control of the instrument, Jimi Hendrix' penchant for exploration and Frank Zappa's zaniness.

His technique is jaw-dropping of course but a concert is not a clinic and music is not a sports competition. And despite the complexity of his compositions and the quasi-mystical aura emanating from his on-stage persona, a Steve Vai concert is fun. The man plays, in every sense of the word. It's a treat just watching him enjoy himself on the guitar. His playing is like a stream of pure music, ideas and motifs flowing endlessly... It really feels like Steve Vai could just play forever. Yet despite his genius (the word is warranted), the man exudes humility and warmth. Yngwie Malmsteen he ain't...

Among the many highlights were the pachydermic groove of Bad Horsie and the epic melody of For The Love Of God. Disappointingly, a shoulder injury prevented Vai from using the Hydra, a new instrument of his own design which combines guitar, bass, both fretless and fretted, harp and various electronics.

After nearly two hours of orgasmic guitar playing, Steve Vai and his band left the stage, promising to return in 2023. The concert ended a couple of hours ago and we're already impatient.

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