Steve Vai | 12.07.16

Vai is finally touring behind the seminal Passion and Warfare album that’s now 25 years old.


The Pageant, St. Louis

The annual meeting of St. Louis Chapter of Guitarists and Their Teachers took place at the Pageant on Delmar Ave. Literally hundreds of St. Louis’s guitarists showed up to meet and swap stories about being on stage, what kind of pickups are in their guitars, their favorite chord progressions, and their predilections towards guitar chords or cordless systems.

Unbeknownst to many of those in attendance, national president of the Guitarists and Their Teachers Union was in attendance to deliver the keynote speech on the vast importance of sweep-picked arpeggios, varying one’s use of stomp boxes, and to discuss whether or not vocals themselves were important in popular music.

Sadly, the stage hands had forgotten to set up a microphone on The Pageant’s stage, so the President chose to give his speech via several different Ibanez guitars. Like many guitarists, when told they can play, he did go on.

Steve Vai was backed up by his band featuring Dave Wiener on guitar, Philip Bynoe on bass, and Jeremy Colson on drums. These three fellows really buttress Vai and allow him to wiggle in and out of the nooks and crannies he chooses to enter.

Vai is finally (as he mentioned) touring behind the seminal Passion and Warfare album that’s now 25 years old. The show started off with a few familiar tunes to longtime Vai fans, and then Vai and the boys played Passion and Warfare front to back.

The importance of this album cannot be overstated. This is the record that made Steve Vai—well, Steve Vai. Before that, he was a hired gun to the stars; after that, he was his own man.

Lasers, video recorded guests, and Vai playing his songs in front of the videos were all a part of the night. As to be expected, Vai did not sing, but simply played his guitar.

For this show, I stood close to the stage rather than in the back, watching. I simply had to be near Vai. Being in his presence is like watching Lord Voldemort rise from the cauldron. He’s simply a wizard.

Seeing his abilities up close and live, taught me that, if anything, Steve Vai is an underrated guitarist. | Nik Cameron

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