TVD Live: Steve Vai at The Regency Ballroom, 10/9

Steve Vai is the greatest guitar player on the planet Earth. This guy does things to a guitar that were not thought to be physically possible. Last week at The Regency Ballroom, touring in support of his latest guitar magnum opus The Story of Light, he proved once again that there may be a soul sold to the devil in return for the gift of supernatural guitar abilities.

The Story of Light comes to us on Vai’s own Favored Nations record label, which he created to showcase artists who have attained the highest performance level on their chosen instruments—an exclusive club for the best musicians on the planet. Vai covers an insane amount of ground on his new record, which includes his signature over-the-top guitar productions alongside big gospel-choir blues, Broadway show tunes, traditional Irish music, and even a duet with Aimee Mann on the majestic “No More Amsterdam.”

Vai has quite a colorful history. He began his career with Frank Zappa in the early eighties, and then he went on to record and tour with the likes of Public Image Ltd, Alcatrazz, David Lee Roth (remember the giant heart guitar?), and Whitesnake. He took guitar lessons from Joe Satriani in his early days only to surpass his master several years later. He has three Grammy awards, one specifically for the god-like performance, reportedly in one take, of “For the Love of God” from his groundbreaking 1990 masterpiece Passion and Warfare.

At 52 years old, Vai looks fantastic and is still playing what I like to call “Springsteen sets.” Three hour, non-stop performances from a guy who’s not doing it because he has to, but because he wants to. This show was absolutely stunning. It’s like seeing Beethoven live, but instead of an orchestra, it’s a full-on rock extravaganza blasting each of your senses from multiple angles. He even had an electric harp player out on stage for much of the set. One additional highlight came in the form of opening act Beverly McClellan, of The Voice fame, lending her incredibly powerful soul-filled vocals to a stunning version of “John the Revelator” from Vai’s new album.

Steve Vai is an eccentric visionary who continues to push the boundaries of progressive music. His deep understanding of music theory and his supernatural ability to pull sounds from his custom guitars is something to be celebrated. Check out all of the hi res photos from the show here.

Were you at the show? Have you seen Steve Vai live? Join the conversation in the comment section below.

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