Category Archives: Shows & Event Reviews

STEVE VAI Live show review

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

 

www.vai.com/tourdates/

2Cellos Live at Highline Ballroom

2Cellos Live at Highline Ballroom
New York City, NY April 2, 2013

 

There’s been a long standing debate over the value of classical based instrumental music outside of the traditional music settings.  For example, many from the classical music population argue that rock music lacks the structure and integrity of formal music.  While the heavy metal/rock followers often feel classical music doesn’t have the spark and enthusiasm of their favorite genre.  That being said, 2Cellos are a perfect blend of each.

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What was so invigorating about seeing 2Cellos is that there was absolutely none of this pompous, elitist attitude from the musicians or the audience.  The two talented, classically trained cellists from Croatia just wanted to rock and have fun.  It shows by the choice of songs they play and especially how they perform them.  It’s actually a great way of cross pollinating the two types of music because it opens the door for them to establish a much larger audience.

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Stjepan Hauser and Luka Sulic began the evening by performing “Where The Streets Have No Name,” which brought an infusion of energy to the New York City crowd.  The two guys play with such an incredible amount of passion and emotion, which is visually obvious in every song. The music was so emotional that you could almost hear the words being sung from the cellos themselves.

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The men were smart with their arrangement of songs by taking the audience up with “Streets” and then easing us down with another U2 song “With Or Without You.”  This was a brilliant approach as everyone could get energetically into one song and then catch your breath in the other.   They did this tactic pretty much throughout the whole show, like playing Michael Jackson’s sensitive “Human Nature” followed by their breakthrough version of the late performer’s “Smooth Criminal”

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I think the songs that really showed off 2Cellos instrumental prowess were all the rock songs like Guns N Roses “Welcome To The Jungle,” Jimi Hendrix’s “Purple Haze” and three of their renditions of three AC/DC songs “Back In Black,”” You Shook Me All Night Long” and “Highway To Hell.”

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Though I’m from Seattle, I never really liked the grunge music, but I will admit the Nirvana song “Smells like Teen Spirit” and Green Day’s “Good Riddance” actually worked wonderfully as rousing soulful renditions.

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I have never experienced a concert like this.  If you haven’t already, please do yourself a favor and look at 2Cellos’ concert schedule. They are set to play dates scattered across the country until the third week of April. Going to see them would refresh your musical palate and undoubtedly bring sparkles of joy into your life.  If there are no dates near you, I suggest you check out their myriad of videos on their website.

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If you think this concert was full of emotion, you should look at the passion of the Bach Double Violin Concerto in D Minor.

 

www.2cellos.com