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Friday, October 5, 2012

Steve Vai

The Stiefel Theatre
Salina, KS
© Lydia Lowe 9/30/2012

Steve Vai . . .I’ve heard the term “blistering guitar licks” before and thought I knew what that meant.  Then I went to a Steve Vai concert and everything that I thought I knew about the guitar, went right out the window.  I know what “blistering guitar licks” are now and somehow I doubt The Stiefel Theatre will ever be the same again.

The concert Vai gave this past Sunday night, was equal parts music, spectacle, fantasy, and escape.  The audience got schooled on just what can be done with the guitar as an instrument.  I heard sounds and melodies that I would never have thought I’d hear from a guitar.  Vai played the strings up and down the guitar in ways I doubt that instrument has ever been played.  He clearly knew all the intricacies of what a guitar can do.  Add in a band-mate playing an acoustic guitar, a drummer with a kit that had some different sorts of add-ons to it, a bass player who played bass guitar as well as stand-up bass, and a harp player. Yes, a harp player and Deborah Henson-Conant was spectacular. Who would ever think you could play rock harp?

There was one piece that Vai played half way through his set, I wish he’d have announced what the names of the pieces were although that would have disturbed the flow of the music, this tune was soft, sweet, and reminded me of a day at a picnic.  He followed that later on in the evening with a tune that made me think “Iron Man” and he came out onto the stage in this costume where he was covered from head to toe in black and brilliant lights.  The guitar he played can only be described as futuristic.  It reminded me of something you might see Kiss using on stage.

There was a backdrop behind the band with an eye and a light in that eye.  The light show that went along with the concert was full of color and worth the price of admission itself.  Occasionally the light in the eye would spin around with the rest of the light show and shine different colors out into the audience.   It was hard not to concentrate on the light in that eye and what it was doing.

Vai’s concert featured exceptional music, a back-up band with a harpist, a light show, a stage set with  backdrop graphics, big speakers, and amps.  Vai changed outfits five times during the evening and with each change of clothes his music reflected his attire.  He gave it his all and played for about three hours without taking a break.  The man is like a machine on stage.

If you missed this concert, you missed a lot.  The Stiefel Theatre was so lucky to get this show.  It was unlike anything I’d ever seen before.  I know I’ll remember it for a long time to come.  Check out “The Story of Light”, which is the name of this concert tour, and you’ll get a chance to see a photo of the backdrop that was behind the band on stage.  Also, you can learn more about the Steve Vai experience.

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