|David Von Bader|
When we queried
virtuosic guitarist and composer Steve Vai about what to expect from his
impending South Florida performance -- the kickoff show of his tour -- he said that we were "in for some surprises." Last night, Vai performed to a beyond-packed house at Revolution Live and showed the massive crowd that (mostly) instrumental guitar music can be extremely enthralling and exciting live.
finalist Beverly McClellan
was Vai's opening act. McClellan is also the source of the immense-sounding lead vocal on the first single from Vai's newest release, The Story of Light.
The singer performed a set of her own songs, accompanying her wonderfully soulful vocals only with the strumming of an acoustic guitar or a few chords on a keyboard. Unfortunately, McClellan's set fell prey to the noise of a capacity crowd settling in and fueling up on adult beverages. The applause between songs, though, made it clear that those paying attention truly appreciated her efforts.
While the Vai band's small team of technicians prepped the group's gear, it became apparent that it had been a long time since we'd borne witness to a crowd as large as the one last night at Revolution. Any preconceived notions we had about the archetypical "guitar music" fan-base were completely shattered. So dense was the crowd, that fights broke out during sound check.
Finally, a thunderous crack of noise ended the playback of Tom Waits' Rain Dogs, though Vai was still nowhere to be seen. The lights went out, the stage was engulfed in a cloud of fog, and rising from it, propelled by a wave of cacophonous sound, was Steve Vai. Wrapped in a long black coat, wearing ornate, printed pants, and a black "Zorro" hat, Vai coerced feedback and noise from his trusty white Ibanez guitar (EVO, for the nerds) to the room's utter delight.
After a fake-out start, Vai welcomed the audience to the "first live show in over 5 years," and the band re-ignited, blasting through the progressive riff of the track "Velorum" from the new album.
100 SW 3rd Ave., Fort Lauderdale, FL