STEVE VAI LIVE – Mayo Performing Arts Center, NJ

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virtuoso and composer blasted into with a sense of purpose and to perform for this sold out crowd at the Mayo Performing Arts Center, on September 8, 2012.

His mission, to illuminate the audience about his 16th solo CD, The Story of Light, as well as dazzle all the teachers and their students in attendance (as he fondly joked) with skills from another planet.  After watching tonight’s performance, some will go home to practice while will sell their guitar.

His latest CD, The Story of Light is the second installment in a trilogy. The story begins with his 2005 release, Real Illusions: and follows a man driven mad by grief, intertwining tragedy, revelation, enlightenment, and redemption. A future third installment will unravel the mysteries of two CDs and the truths that swirl in both.

Whether the crowd of enthusiasts knew Steve’s legacy from his days with Frank Zappa, Dave Lee Roth, Whitesnake, or his extensive body of solo work, they were all there to see this influential guitarist in action. You may know his songs or watched perform on DVD but it doesn’t do justice to seeing live.  It was awe-inspiring to witness his complex techniques coupled with pure emotion driven playing for 2 ½ hours. Vai’s playing style stretches the boundaries of rock, jazz, and blues; and sometimes all in the same song.

Throughout the show, Vai assaulted his Ibanez JEM guitars, affectionately dubbed EVO and FLO III, in ways that most people would never think possible bending pitches with his fingers as well as incorporating various effects that changed the ’s sound. of  Vai’s special tricks is evoking the sound of the human voice on the like he did on the intro of ’s hit, Yankee Rose. Though he didn’t that song, he did the trick in other songs to get a laugh out of the audience.

Vai’s set included seven songs from the new CD, an set and a song writing “improv” class with special guest writer, of “That Show”.  Trunk laid the beats through a microphone and Vai composed a new masterpiece in front of the audience in a matter of minutes.  Members of also joined Steve on stage tonight to out the song writing class.

Vai’s backing was sensational with Phillip Bynoe on both the six string bass as well as stand bass, Dave Weiner on guitar, Jeremy Coson on drums and “strap on drums”, and new edition to the line- Deborah Henson-Conant, on the electric “strap on” hip-harp. you do detect a running theme to the show!  If you didn’t think a harp could out, you haven’t seen Henson-Conant and Vai dueling it out!

Highlights of the show included Vai’s opening song and a personal favorite from his new CD, Racing the World, a fast paced tune injected with a Satriani influence, Storm, with its vibe and deep pull downs, and his newest delta scorcher, John the Revelator. Other crowd favorites included his classic hits; Whispering a Prayer, The Audience is Listening and For the Love of God.

The Story of Light with Vai, its way through the US, and this Fall; do yourself a favor and check out a true genius and legend for an entertaining and illuminating experience.

Click here to see the rest of the Live Photos.

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