Review and Photos by Fred Kuhlman
Promoter: Danny Zelisko Presents (https://www.dannyzeliskopresents.com/ )
Venue: Celebrity Theatre (https://celebritytheatre.com/ )
Date: October 2nd, 2022
Tour: Inviolate Tour
This was the second night of a three-night concert weekend for me. I was really looking forward to seeing this show. I love progressive music and love to see musicians that truly excel. Having seen Steve Vai in the past I know what to expect. Over the years I have seen many good guitarists. I have even been lucky enough to see some of the really great guitarists. But there are some guitarists that are in a league of their own that other guitarists look up too. Some of these truly outstanding and revolutionary guitarists include Jimi Hendrix, Eric Clapton, Jimmy Page, Randy Rhoads and Eddie Van Halen. Today we have a group of guitarists that if not already in this superstar class, will soon be included: Joe Satriani, John Petrucci and Steve Vai are just a few.
Back in 1980, this young 20-year-old guitarist got his chance to perform with Frank Zappa. It was one of the first few shows that Steve Vai played with Frank and they were here in Phoenix Arizona at the Celebrity Theatre. Steve fondly remembers being on the rotating stage and walking out onto the ramp. While there, he was pulled into the crowd by a woman. Being only 20, he was trilled and figured that he was now a real rock star. Its now 42 years later and Steve Vai came back to the Celebrity Theatre, but this time as the master. Joining Steve Vai are longtime guitarist and keyboardist Dave Weiner, bassist Philip Bynoe and drummer Jeremy Colson.
For some people, they wonder “Where is the singer?” Steve Vai is an instrumental musician that relies of his and the rest of the band’s musical skill to lift the music and enlighten the soul of the audience. The show started with Steve playing “Avalancha” from his new album Inviolate, his 10th studio album. The majority of the songs tonight were from this new album. There was a mixture of songs from other album including some songs from his Live albums. During the show, each of the other band members got to show off their skills by performing solos. Some of you might be wondering, “Who or What is Hydra?” When will they be performing. Hydra is not a band or a who, but a what.
The stage went dark. The guitar tech came out carrying this covered monstrosity. It was huge and had its own stand to hold it. Shortly, Steve came out and pulled off the cover and behold HYDRA was revealed. Like its Greek surname, this guitar has 3 heads and a body that confounds the user. But Steve just wraps his arms around it and starts to tickle its necks to produce an array of notes that turn into a musical score. Unlike the Greek Hydra that devours its audience, Steve controls this version and makes it sing to us. Unlike other guitarist that have multiple neck guitars, Hydra looks like a combination of one of Uli Jon Roth’s Sky Guitars and a multi-neck guitar. It has controls that Steve can use to control and bend the guitar’s sound to his will.
At another point near the end of the show, Steve invited his soundboard engineer Danny G on stage. Danny is also an MMA fighter and to everyone’s surprise, an Opera singer. So, Steve has Danny sing an Opera song during “For the Love of God”.
After 2 solid hours of amazing music, the crowd was giving Steve and the band a standing ovation. Please listen to one of Steve Vai’s Live album prior to the show to get an idea of what to expect at one of his shows (I personally recommend this for any new band you want to see). Steve’s music is not for everyone, but if you like classic music or progressive rock, then you will really enjoy this show.
You can follow Steve Vai on his website and Facebook page to find out more about upcoming tour dates. You can watch Steve videos on his YouTube channel. To get more information about Steve and what he is up to, join his Patreon page.
Photos by Fred Kuhlman, All Right Reserved
Steve Vai Setlist: (Album)
Giant Balls of Gold (Alive in an Ultra World)
Little Pretty (Inviolate)
Tender Surrender (Alien Love Secrets)
Lights Are On (Modern Primitive)
(with Philip Bynoe bass solo)
Guitar Solo (Dave Weiner)
Building the Church (Real Illusions: Reflections)
Greenish Blues (Inviolate)
Bad Horsie (Alien Love Secrets)
I’m Becoming (Sound Theories, Volume I & II)
Whispering a Prayer (Alive in an Ultra World)
Dyin’ Day (Fire Garden)
Drum Solo (Jeremy Colson)
Teeth of the Hydra (Inviolate)
Zeus in Chains (Inviolate)
Liberty (Passion and Warfare)
For the Love of God (Passion and Warfare)
((with Danni G singing Opera)
Fire Garden Suite IV – Taurus Bulba (Fire Garden)