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Steve Vai - Live At The Astoria London (DVD)

Steve Vai
Live At The Astoria London DVD
by Eleni Mouratoglou at 23 April 2004, 11:55 AM

This is the first solo concert of Steve Vai on film. Let's concentrate on the fact's importance for a while. We're talking about the man who played guitar for Frank Zappa, David Lee Roth, Alice Cooper, Whitesnake and many more, participated in movie soundracks and tribute albums, won a Grammy Award and innumerable polls for the best rock guitarist worldwide and whose discography consists of over a dozen solo albums, with G3 Live in concert (with Johnson and Satriani-1997) and Rocking the free world (with Satriani and Malmsteen-2004) among them. If he is not a living guitar legend then who is?
The Live at the Astoria DVD contains his live performances at Astoria, London, UK on 6th and 7th of  December of 2001. The bass virtuoso Billy Sheehan, the charismatic guitar and keyboard player Tony Macalpine and the extremely competent guitarist Dave Weiner and drummer Virgil Donati were gathered for your eyes' and ears' pleasure. Steve Vai invites Astoria's audience to celebrate music. He and his gang apparently enjoy the act at least as much as they want us to enjoy it. They seem as a bunch of old friends who took a break from obligations to exchange experiences and experiment on new achievements and at the same time as teenagers who escaped from restrictions.
In a delirium Vai throws his guitar in the air, spins it like a magician,  jumps around with unbelievable energy and from times to times he licks the chords! He changes glamorous outfits and appears on the scene with hats, masks and weird accessories, but his slender figure with his windy hair and the smooth, sensual movements give a sense of sophistication. Sheehan sticks to the pattern violating his bass in ways one couldn't imagine! He also uses a double bass-guitar. The other members follow their example with ease and comfort.
Apart from the impressive presentation no one can deny the artistic perfection of the concert. Exceptional solos come one after another to leave us speechless with their strength, creativity and originality. Like a chameleon, Vai is effective in any circumstance and responds to the special needs of each track's atmosphere.
My only objection is that even from a passionate fan's perspective the concert cannot be called a celebration of music. What we all know about instrumental music concerts is evident here: there is a lack of sentimental participation on behalf of the audience. People are not carried away by the melodies; on the contrary, they are constantly on allert. They praise Steve Vai and the others because of awe, not enthusiasm. They are intruders in somebody else's party where they can only watch, not have fun. Maybe it would be more realistic to characterize this concert as a special guitar lesson, a demonstration of technique, an exhibition of divine talent. If we choose this point of view the audience's reactions are totally justified and it is sure that Steve Vai didn't disappoint them in any way.
The second disc of the double DVD has a rich menu of backstage action, footage, interviews, the band's rehearsals in L.A., their bios and Steve Vai's discography. It wouldn't be an exaggeration if I said that the whole project is ideal for anyone who is not one of his millions of fans and wants to know who Steve Vai is. There is even a directory leading to Steve Vai's official site if your computer is on line.
The production is flawless, absolutely equivalent to such a star's magnitude. The cameramen themselves are excited by what they have the luck to watch and this is discerned in their work. All technicians do their best, far beyond their typical duties. When we deal with personalities like Vai these aspects are taken for granted. And that's something I really estimate whenever I see it because it indicates that the companies and the artists avoid making fools out of the fans.
I suppose it didn't take you more than 4 of 5 minutes to read this review. What you should do now is dedicate 4 more hours to watch this DVD and honor the magnificent guitar playing machine, Steve Vai.

4 Star Rating

Disc 1

Giant Balls Of God
Erotic Nightmares
Blood And Glory
Dave's Party Piece
Blue Powder
The Crying Machine
The Animal
Tony's Solo
Bad Horsie
Down Deep Into The Pain
Little Wing
Whispering A Prayer
Incantation (with drum solo)
For The Love Of God
The Attitude Song

Disc 2

Behind-the-Scenes Footage
Band Biographies
Vai Discography
Los Angeles Rehearsals
Steve Vai - Guitar and Vocals
Billy Sheehan - Bass
Tony Macalpine - Guitar and Keyboards
Virgil Donati - Drums
Dave Weiner - Guitar
Record Label: Favored Nations


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