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STEVE VAI Live In Ottawa, Canada

By Andrew Depedro, Ottawa Corespondent
Sunday, November 27, 2016 @ 5:19 PM

Passion & Warfare.....And Joe Satriani’s Wig Collection? Steve Vai Celebrates A Quarter Century While Shredding It Old School

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In 36 years of touring and recording, one of hard rock’s most influential guitarists has developed a reputable name for himself, having started his career in Frank Zappa’s band before gravitating towards various other esteemed musicians/performers ranging from John Lydon to David Lee Roth to WHITESNAKE to MEATLOAF to DEVIN TOWNSEND, among others. And his lengthy career has brought him to another of my former institutions of higher learning where myself and several other aspiring students and mindful observers are anticipating the arrival of the Man At The Crossroads - better known as guitar virtuoso Steve Vai as he paid homage to the album he described as “Jimi Hendrix meets Jesus Christ at a party that Ben Hur threw for Mel Blanc” as well as the album which he claimed would end his career. The album in question was Passion & Warfare and had been conceived as far back as 1982. Yet for an instrumental solo album which was being released at a time when flashy guitar solos were discovering that their days were numbered, Passion & Warfare fared rather well in the stakes, reaching #18 in the Billboard charts and achieving gold status by the RIAA - hell, Vai was even on his way to Long Island to be inducted into its Hall Of Fame the day after this show and be congratulated for the album’s quarter century of existence.

And chances were that a good 95% of the audience had either purchased Passion & Warfare with the remaining 5% being their kids who were conceived by it.

The show starts with the famous duel scene in Crossroads as both Vai and Ralph Macchio stand ready to do battle with axes in hand, the erstwhile Karate Kid’s worried expression on his face as he pondered to himself “....his full use of the whammy bar will make my beatdown by Johnny Lawrence look like a teabagging by comparison”. Then the house lights dimmed and a slow-walking Dalek brandishing a silver Ibanez made its way to the stage as the opening riffs of “Bad Horsie” were played.

With his backing band consisting of drummer Jeremy Colson, guitarist Dave Weiner and bassist Phil Bynoe, Steve Vai delivered an immeasurable and energetic 2-hour fret-tapping and riff-tastic show with little more than a backstage screen to project impressive backgrounds to suit the mood of the music. And while the inclusions of more recent material such as “The Crying Machine” and “Gravity Storm” piqued the crowd’s interest, they were the precursors to the entire Passion & Warfare album which would be the highlight of the evening - featuring some special guests showing their support for Vai as they congratulated him on his musical milestone.

Opening with “Liberty”, which included some footage of a performance with Brian May, Vai and his band recreated the spirit of Passion & Warfare with the same enthusiasm and fury which personified the album back in its time. Its highlights in particular would be a broadcasted cameo by Joe Satriani during “The Riddle” - complete with a whole bunch of goofy-looking wigs and sunglasses he’d wear while him and Vai traded solos - and witty barbs - with impeccable ease. John Petrucci of FREAM THEATER - “dressed like a wookie” according to Vai - also assisted in an extended rendition of “I Would Love To”.

Another highlight of the show also featured a cameo of sorts by the man who’d discovered his impeccable talents - the late Frank Zappa, who’d indoctrinated and immortalized the burgeoning young guitarist in his song “Stevie’s Spanking” which, as the title implied, delivered a wallop. The brash, fiery “Racing The World” could have been the final number for which Vai and his band could’ve closed the show with, particularly as its extended solo gave the guitarist an excuse to wander off the stage and noodle it up with members of the audience, including one ecstatic female fan who’d gotten several selfie ops with him, but with as much crowd adulation as Vai had received, he still felt honor-bound to close his set with an encore rendition of the riveting “Fire Garden Suite”. His mantra of “savor every single note” resonated with the 1,500+ crowd that night as he thanked everyone for turning out.

And, with that, a homeroom teacher has been kept up to date as to what l’il Stevie Vai’s been up to since his teenage years since that rather loud classroom performance for Show & Tell that day. A quarter century later, the audience was still listening and picking up an instrument by the thousands because of him.



  • “Bad Horsie”
  • “The Crying Machine”
  • “Gravity Storm”
  • “Tender Surrender”
  • “Liberty”
  • “Erotic Nightmares”
  • “The Animal”
  • “Answers”
  • “The Riddle”
  • “Ballerina 12/24”
  • “For The Love Of God”
  • “The Audience Is Listening”
  • “I Would Love To”
  • “Blue Powder”
  • “Greasy Kid’s Stuff”
  • “Alien Water Kiss”
  • “Sisters”
  • “Love Secrets”
  • “Stevie’s Spanking” (Frank Zappa cover)
  • “Racing The World”
  • “Fire Garden Suite IV - Taurus Bulba”

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