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Live At The Astoria, London (DVD)
Released: 2003, Favored Nations Entertainment/High Insight
Steve Vai is easily one of the best guitarists that this world has ever heard. His style is not for everyone since he doesn’t play for the masses and much of what he does is either above many people, or is perhaps too quirky for a casual listener…especially a non-guitarist. When this DVD arrived I didn’t know what to expect – would it be all new songs I’d never heard of? Or would it be a set relying on a lot of classics? Thankfully, with over 3.5 hours of footage (including bonus features) this 2-disc DVD, being Steve's first live solo DVD, was packed with enough variety that I didn’t get bored or lost while watching it.
Before I dig into the DVD, I have to warn you that for me Steve Vai is at his best on David Lee Roth’s EAT EM’ AND SMILE and on his solo album PASSION AND WARFARE. Those, along with his excellent performance in the classic movie Crossroads, are what I’ve always loved most about Steve Vai. I know he’s done a lot more since and before then, but for me as a casual fan, this is Steve Vai what I like. The live concert of the DVD gets started with one of my favorite Vai/DLR songs “Shyboy”. Although I miss David Lee Roth on vocals here, it was respectably done by bass god Billy Sheehan. This is the only song Billy sings. If you are looking for vocal oriented stuff, you know that’s not what you’ll get from a Vai concert since his guitar playing does all the talking required. Steve himself does take to the microphone for a couple of Hendrix covers (“Fire” and “Little Wing”). It’s on Steve’s own tracks that he shines the most though. His lead playing makes the playing that most other players do seem like child’s play.
Steve is not the sole guitarist on stage here. Shred heads will no doubt recognize the name of Tony MacAlpine. Mr. MacAlpine also plays keys on a number of songs and he is as gifted at the keys as he is at guitar. There are a few jaw dropping moments in the show where Steve and Tony get to rip it up together doubling some solo sections and nailing them flawlessly. The third guitarist, Dave Weiner, was an unknown to me. He was playing more rhythm, but he did get to show his stuff in a few places. One of the visual highlights of the concert is when Billy and Steve sport some wild laser light costumes. Steve looks like a member of Dimmu Borgir in this section complete with the giant leather buckled boots but with the addition of red laser lights flying all over the place…mad!
The bonus disc was a bit of a letdown for me. I would of preferred more of a focus on Steve and even Tony’s playing. The best part was the “La Rehearsals” section where is shows the band practicing for the tour.
If you are a guitar head, you will be impressed with this concert. If you are a casual Vai fan like myself, you’ll still love the live concert. If you are a Vai freak, then you’ve most likely already bought this DVD by now and have yet to pick your jaw off the floor!
DISC 1: LIVE
Giant Balls of Gold
Blood & Glory
Dave's Party Piece
Tony MacAlpine Keyboard Solo
Down Deep Into the Pain
Whispering a Prayer
Virgil Donati Drum Solo
For the Love of God
The Attitude Song
DISC 2: BONUS FEATURES
Dave's Super-Informative Tour
Billy's Tofu Jack Russell Terrier
Billy's Bass Lesson
Thomas Nordegg Intervew
Thomas' Guitar Lesson
La Rehearsals: Giant Balls Of Gold
La Rehearsals: Erotic Nightmares
Special DVD features include: 5.1 Surround Sound Mix; PCM Stereo; Audio Commentary Track by Steve Vai, Billy Sheehan, Tony MacAlpine and Dave Weiner; Band Bios; and Steve's discography.
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