STEVE VAI Live show review
@ NYCB Theater at Westbury, NY August 31, 2012
The legendary hometown guitarist returned to his stomping grounds to give another brilliant performance that floored, excited and moved all of us in attendance.
What I liked most about this show was how relaxed Vai and his band seemed to be with a crowd that included had many of his family and friends. I think Long Island looks at the rock star as one of our own and rightly so, he is after all from Carle Place.
Vai’s band came out tearing up three songs off his latest CD, The Story of Light. Then they delved into a wild assortment of musical directions that alternated between being funky, oriental tinged, acoustic, jazzy, hard rocking and so much more. I know I wasn’t the only one that appreciated every diverse tune.
One of the songs that really surprised me was when the opening artist Beverly McClellan (a final four contestant from the first season of the TV show THE VOICE) sang a hard rocking tune “John the Revelator” from The Story of Light.
There were a couple really special instances that displayed the deep passion Vai feels for his fans and vice versa. A young girl was asked to come up on stage, at which point she gave Vai a rose and THE BEE MOVIE DVD. I didn’t realize the significance of this particular movie at the time but have since learned that Steve Vai is an avid bee keeper. It was really thoughtful gesture on the part of the girl and it was a tender moment for all of us to enjoy.
Later, Vai picked a boy from the audience to have him help create a song on the spot, because he said anyone can write a song. “Watch I’ll show you.” The boy mouthed a nice little beat that Drummer Jeremy Colson copied then the kid came up with patterns that Vai assigned to rhythm guitarist, bassist, the electric harp player and even one for himself. Then the band jammed off the new grooves for an improvisational tune. This was really neat because I looked at this like something Vai’s mentor Frank Zappa would have done. I think Zappa must be smiling up in heaven because Steve Vai is carrying on his creative music approach. It was refreshing and invigorating to experience firsthand.
Vai played many of the songs from his 30-year career and every time you’d hear a few notes of one of his signature pieces of music, it sent Goosebumps out to the crowd because we knew what followed.
Steve Vai changed clothes quite a few times over his 2+ hour set. One of them was sort of a science fiction outfit that seemed right of STAR WARS. This get-up featured a cape with gloves & hood that projected tiny laser-like lights out in a variety of colors. While donning this costume, Vai played a specially designed guitar that looked almost like a futuristic weapon that matched the design of his attire. This definitely added spectacle to an already awesome concert.
Another thing that really struck me was what happened at the end of the show. Steve Vai stood emotionally moved by the cheering standing ovation for a good couple minutes after the rest of his band left the stage. Then he said that playing in front of this beautiful town and his hometown people meant a lot to him. He thanked all of us for being there from the bottom of his heart and there was no doubt about his sincerity. I think Vai realizes in this tough economy there is no guarantee about how many people can go to see a live show. But Long Island turned out to support him and his appreciation was obvious.
It’s been five years since Steve Vai last toured. If you’ve never seen him perform, you are missing out on one of the most original, passionate artists on the music scene. If you have seen him before than you know it’s time to go see him play again for the warmth and energy that you will get from experiencing his latest tour. Please visit Vai’s website to find out when he’s going to be in your area.