This was my fourth time seeing Steve live. I saw him two other times in Milwaukee, and once in LA. I'm not going to lie, going into it, as much as I like P & W, I was at first not super thrilled that he was going to be doing the whole album live. I like when he pulls songs off of all of the albums from all different eras -- but it's Steve Vai, how could I not go?
Boy was I wrong about not being thrilled. As many of you already know, he opens with songs not on P&W, and then goes right into the album. It was simply incredible! Hearing it live brought out the true magic and genius that is P&W. All of the raw emotion and musical bliss was poured out onstage right in front of my eyes. Out of the 10 years of my life that I've gotten to see Steve on tour, this was the best. This was the album that I used to constantly play all the way through when I would be cutting the grass on weekends as a teen. It introduced me to the world of Vai.
Although I'll never forget seeing him for the first time at age 18 on the Sound Theories tour, and how mind-blowing musically and visually it was, this show was different. There were no special additional musicians with odd-ball instruments used for the most amazing rock show you're going to see. There were no rugs, no special stage costumes, backdrops (minus the screen, which I will get into in a bit). This was 100% RAW, back to the basics, and AMAZING. Throughout the whole show, I couldn't help but feel like this is what it probably felt like seeing him back in the 80's and early 90's. To top it off, there was a projection screen which many times had throwback footage of Steve in his earlier years playing the same songs that he was playing on stage. Note for note, everything matched up with the video footage and was so awesome! The Stevie's Spanking dual with Zappa was an especially surprising highlight, and the FTLOG music video footage was probably the most beautifully haunting part of the show. During intermission, I went to the bathroom and in the line, everyone was saying it was an insane show. Some even said it was the best they had ever seen. I can't argue there!
As usual, Steve pours his heart and soul into the show, and gives it everything. It's so refreshing to see an artist who you can tell actually cares about every one of their fans. At one point, he stopped playing and looked up and down every single row in the theater to see everyone of our faces and soak in the moment. He definitely made me regret not getting the EVO passes, and at the end of the show even put his guitar around a girl in the audience. During solos, he had people in the front hit his whammy bar, and did not short them on picks and other awesome memories. I ended up not getting them because I went with a friend who is just a fan of music, and doesn't necessarily religiously listen to Steve. I will DEFINITELY be buying EVO passes next time.
Although this entire post only mentions Steve, it shouldn't be that way. The band was incredible, and they are all virtuosos. I love the line-up of having Phillip on bass. I honestly forgot how incredible the bass lines were on P&W, and he brought so much energy to the show. You could feel the music and awesome jam's coming from Phillip's guitar. Of course then there's Jeremy Colson.....need I say more? I've seen him on every tour, and the guy plays his ass off every time. He's simply world class, not to mention, a very nice person. I also enjoyed seeing him bring P&W alive, and his great cover of Terry Bozzio's drum parts on Stevie's Spanking. Dave Weiner was wonderful too! It was great hearing those complex keyboard parts, the sitar, and second guitar off P&W.
I just want to thank the band. I'm sure they've heard it a million times, but they are world class and put on an amazing show. I've been going to shows since I was 15, and I have to say that Steve's band has by far put on the best performances that I've ever seen. It makes going to other band's shows almost disappointing because with Steve, you're getting every cent worth of the ticket price because he and his band are playing their asses off every night of the tour. I can't even imagine how exhausting it has to be to play at that level nearly every night for months and months. You are so appreciated by me, and I'm still grinning ear to ear several days later.
Thank you for continually coming to Milwaukee! As I said before, when I was 18, I got to see the band play for my first time for the Sound Theories tour. I brought a high school friend, and our minds were blown from the first few notes. We ended up waiting outside until 1 AM on a school night to meet Steve, because we were both broke kids and had to let Steve know our appreciation for him and the band. He was so gracious to us, and so was his whole band. I will always support you, and you are by far the most down to earth musician I know. Please come back soon! And next time bring back the beautiful Anne Marie Calhoun