JAM Magazine Concert Reviews

December 5, 2016
The Bomb Factory
Dallas, TX USA
Review by Dave Gray
Photos by Rene Rivera

Steve Vai

Steve Vai Detonates The Bomb Factory With Passion (And Warfare)

I never know what to expect when I go to a Steve Vai show, it's always full or surprises. Tonight's show at Dallas' Bomb Factory was no exception. This year is the 25th anniversary of the release of the Passion And Warfare CD, so I knew in advance that the record would be performed in it's entirety tonight. But I knew there would be more, as Steve has always played long sets, and I wasn't sure of how he would pull this off. I know that he always has a few tricks up his sleeve(s). As it turned out, the audience was treated to a brief history of Steve's life, from Frank Zappa to present, and you also got to witness Steve perform tracks that he has never performed live onstage before.

The set opened with a video clip of the guitar duel scene from the movie "Crossroads" and then the devil's "Jack Butler" took the stage. Smoke all around, he looked like a strange space alien. Wearing a hoodie, a pair of odd glow in the dark glasses resting on the eyes, laser lights piercing through the smoke from the hood he was wearing, he unleashed "Bad Horsie." Incredible sound, colors and visual effects graced the stage as the guitar master scorched the ears of listeners with distortion, flangers, feedback, whammy bar tricks and other musical electronic wizardry. The appetizers continued with "The Crying Machine," "Gravity Storm" and "Tender Surrender," and then the main course was served up.

With a video intro by Queen's Brian May, Steve launched into the opening cut, "Liberty." and through modern video technology, it was somehow synced up with the original video from the Guitar legends show in Spain, circa 1991. The entire CD was then performed in it's entirety. I will say this. The video on this tour was incredible and has a lot to do with the incredible choreography and production of this tour set. 4K Ultra HD visuals, moving shapes, wormholes, and lots of old video shots of Steve from his days with Frank Zappa, David Lee Roth, Whitesnake and more, made sure that there was always something to affix your eyes upon while listening to the master himself. A musical feast for the eyes and ears. I don't want to spoil all the fun that happened onstage tonight, but I will mention that there were some surprise guests... nudge nudge, wink wink.

On a side note, the sound and light quality at the Bomb Factory is superior and really allows the artist to give the listener a memorable experience. The incredible tones that Steve blasted out during "Crying Machine," and "Blue Powder" shot right through you, you can feel 'em in your bones. And to hear Steve perform "Ballerina," "Sisters" and "Greasy Kid's Stuff" live in a venue like this was truly cool. He said he had never expected to play "Love Secrets" live, but he also said that this is the perfect band to do it, 25 years later. If you know the record, another cool thing about this show is that you get to see him put a spin on tracks that he started writing almost 30 years ago, but with a really cool, new twist or on the fly improvisation.

The dessert/encore included a video sync with Frank Zappa as he performed "Stevie's Spanking," with lots of shots of a young Steve Vai on the video background. He then performed "Racing the World" and "Taurus Bulba," in which he left the stage, went to the floor and found a fan in the crowd to hand his guitar off to. The fan was none other than Dallas' own guitar super hero Andy Timmons, who played for a few minutes before handing it back off to Steve who headed back to the stage for the finale. But Steve didn't leave the stage until he was assured that the audience had had a good time, which everyone agreed. To quote Mr. Vai "Our work is done here." Good time had by all.