Steve Vai October 4th @ The Complex

Steve Vai came to downtown Salt Lake City, Utah to promote his rescheduled North American Inviolate Tour that had been previously canceled and postponed. On October 4th at The Complex, devoted fans eagerly filled half the floor to get a good look. He began by playing some great new and older songs, then takes a moment to introduce the band and thank everyone for being there, while also joking about being 62, even though he clearly still plays like a young man.

Back to playing, the smooth methodical “Tender Surrender” starts to flow out of his fingertips from his classy white Ibanez guitar that he can use to create wild sounds you wouldn’t imagine possible. He makes Cream-like sounds with his guitar yet even more muffled, all while creating riddles with his whammy bar, playing as if he had 6 fingers on both hands. At one point, his drummer, Jeremy Colson, and Vai on his guitar, were playing the same notes simultaneously with quick stop intervals. It was quite epic, as was the call and response he played with his bass player, Philip Baynoe a three-time nominee and Emmy Award-winner, who then launched into a killer bass-solo that was kinda Flea-ish but with his own slow slides. When Steve returned with a green Ibanez under green lighting, the tones emanating from his guitar seemed symphonic, with piano-like notes and reaching violin-like string sounds. Dave Weiner, Steve’s touring guitarist playing a red and white Strat, was also fantastic during his solo, showing off his incomparable talent as the rest of the band came back on stage and finished with a large echoing chord.

Steve Vai is very delicate with his guitar, almost as if he is caressing a human partner. He amazes everyone with his virtuoso two-handed playing up and down the fret board circling each bend of the string sensually with his fingertips, all while enticing the whammy bar with his pinky. It was electrical, ethereal, and enthralling. A clip of the movie Crossroads appeared on the screen and Steve played along with his former self from the show. “Bad Horsie” played as blue-ish purple lights lit up on his fret board, illuminating facial expressions perfectly matched to his unearthly guitar playing skills. Playing one-handed, the man can literally trade off between hands and move notes around to make us feel like we were on a roller-coaster.

Steve peeling back a black cloak to reveal the great Hydra, a three-necked guitar that has several bells and whistles and the three-headed Medusa emblazoned on it. He played “Teeth Of The Hydra” with one hand on one neck while the other was playing a different portion of this musical monstrosity. To close out the show, professional opera-singer Danny G sang the first verse “For The Love Of God”, leaving the fortunate crowd with a feeling of blessed reverence. At the conclusion of the encore, Steve appeared with his signature mushroom hat and struck his chords so loud, the crowd could feel the vibrations emanating through their feet.

Steve Vai will continue his North American Inviolate Tour though the beginning December. I encourage everyone to look up the dates to see if he’s coming close to a venue nearby. The shine of the light-beam bouncing off the body of his guitars as Steve brings out a full range of music as only he can is something not to miss.