Sunday night, Rochester NY ... The 500ish Vai fans squeezed into the small, hot and sweaty Waterstreet music hall experienced a rare and special treat as Steve and his band hit the stage. Think old school style here... there were no seats, there was no massive stage; there was the man, his band and his music. Many acts would suffer from being stripped of props and having the crowd literally a foot off the stage; but not them, not that night. from my vantage point 15 feet back of center stage, it was obvious that Steve breathed it in and loved it. Here's a shot of the action:
The band was super tight without being mechanical ... the song selections spanned most of Steve's career, including a short acoustic set that included a fresh take on my personal favorite "Rescue me or bury me". The improv sectrion where the band built a song around the rythmn and vocal melody suggested by an audience member ( a young man in a Fender T-shirt, LOL! ) was stunning. As Steve translated the suggestions into musical direction the intense focus of the band to Steve's leadership was stunning to experience. To watch Steve's face light up when his harpist nailed it and won the crowd over or when his guitarist Dave punched out a jaw droppingly beautiful solo acoustic piece was really special to witness.
Of course, you play an old Hall and things are going to go wrong... the curve balls thrown at Steve in the form of bad electrical, dropping PA's and so on were handled with grace, humor and professionalism. Despite playing in a virtual sauna, Steve brought it for a solid 2+ hours and really demonstrated why he and his remarkable band deserve the accolades they recieve.