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Steve Vai in Full Grandeur at De Roma Theater

De Roma Theater, Antwerp - September 07, 2013 - Belgium

Live concert review by Edwin van Hoof

Steve VaiOn September 7, 2014, Steve Vai and his band were scheduled at the wonderful De Roma Theater, an old theatre restored into its classical grandeur without discarding the fact it had been closed for more than 3 decades. During those days the magical atmosphere it was known for crumbled and the interior gotten in decline. It is the restored interior combined with that gritty decline which is captured in the Theatres arena today. The grandeur is back without lacking the character its demise, an overwhelming experience.

In the old days this magnificent venue hosted a wide variety of names like Paul McCartney & the Wings, Iggy Pop, AC/DC, Ry Cooder, and so on. De Roma established a name as one of the frontrunners in the new musical era, promoting bands on the verge of their breakthrough.

Tonight we are witness to a different phenomenon as rockers in this magical setting. Steve Vai takes the stage in front of a seated crowd, neatly served by waiters delivering the ordered drinks and food at their tables. Candles are lit, tables are set.... And so are we.

Vai's "The Story of Light" tour has taken him and his band all over the globe, and what we get to witness is perhaps one of the best gigs I have ever seen. The band is in top shape, the seated audience is enthusiastic and the sound is as magical as the venue; everything falls into place.

Steve claims the spotlight as usual with his unmistakable charisma, voodoo dances and top notch marksmanship. He runs and dances from left to right while entertaining his fans during this 3 hour long performance in which he piles up highlights. He carefully slips and slides through his catalogue of releases, switching his Ibanez as much as his poses. The man is a truly gifted showman. But his true gift is his unearthly playing. His tremolo extravaganza, his razor sharp tapping in combination with the gritty grooves, is truly unique.

From the fog filled opening and "Racing the World" onwards, it is one crazy guitar exercise. "Gravity Storm" is one of the most immaculate guitar anthems composed, featured on his latest studio CD, and it has you boggled. His astonishing technique falling into place and performed live, the song only gains power and expression. There were jaw-dropping moments all night and so many impossible-to-play endings, it took one look around the room to spot other stunned aficionados dropping their jaws to their knees. All night broozing riffs like power drills and runaway trains are blended into a sonic cocktail with the man's shrieking and high pitched solos and screeching tremolo torments. "Building the Church" is another one of those frustrating moments many guitar players can't get their head around, while his classics such as "The Audience is Listening", "Answers", "Gravity Storm" and "Salamanders in the Sun". All this musical extravaganza might come across boring to non-guitar addicts, but it is NOT. Vai is not called the 'High Priest of Guitar' for nothing. His entire extravaganza serves the songs, the man is capable of touching you with a lick and kissing you with a uncalled for note disputation of his Ibanez Jem. He touches your heart with his playing over and over again, composes truly magnificent songs. "For the Love of God" and "Weeping China Doll" are perfect examples of his geniusity. Where the first is composed as a powerful rock ballad, the second is exactly the same but is woven together by his crazy and unearthy guitar playing. But both have the same outcome; they touch your heart instantly. One does it with goofy freakiness, the other with polished gold. And gold is what shines during this excellent performance, thanks to the steady line up Vai brings to the front for several years now.

David Weiner is Vai's sidekick for a long time, providing the rhythm for Vai's escapades, delivering the Siamese half to the immaculate twin solos. Weiner is granted a solo spot midway through the set in which he promotes his new album. An acoustic short set displaying the man's fine-tuned feeling for ear mingling melodies. An acoustic set which is followed by Mr. Vai himself on the Spanish guitar. Unlike of the classically trained Weiner, Vai unleashes his trademark playing onto the classical guitar. The outcome is an entertaining and somewhat uncalled for short set which has many in the audience surprised.

Alongside Weiner, Steve shares the stage with bass monster Philip Bynoe and rock drummer extraordinaire Jeremy Colson. Both long running members in the Vai touring carrousel, both wildly talented themselves. Bynoe displays his immaculate playing on the Kala U-Bass during his short solo spot, where Colson takes the stage with his marching band drum set lit by tube lights and smoke spitting skulls. It leads us into his powerful drum solo, displaying his excellent timing combined with his powerful heavy drumming style. The man tortures his skins and kills his sticks while playing the ultimate groove Steve needs to perform his craziness over.

It's a match made in heaven as proven by the rest of the set. The static and laid back audience is set ablaze during the last section of the set in which Vai takes the stage in his Ultra Zone outfit, complete with lasers and leds all over his suit. He emerges from a cloud of smoke in an alienated style to unleash more of his superb insanely intricate fretwork and blistering hammer- ons, upon the audience. An audience he invites to join him in order to compose a brand new song by only the hints of the participators. Steve as the top marksman on guitar translates the thoughts, handclapping and singing of his guests into rhythm and riffs, eventually flowering as a brand new rock song performed by the band. Of course; the lay out was already present, but judging on a few short mishaps onstage, the band initiated to compose a truly unique song fort his night.

Steve VaiThis 'jam' is the last stand of the band which is hauled back onto the stage by the crowd which finally left the comfort of their seats fort encores. The earlier mentioned power output "For the Love of God" and "Taurus Bulba" are the closing chapter of this wonderful night in which Vai and his band shined extremely brightly!


  • Intro
  • Racing the World
  • Velorum
  • Building the Church
  • Tender Surrender
  • Gravity Storm
  • Dave Weiner solo spot
  • Weeping China Doll
  • Answers
  • Whispering a Prayer
  • The Audience is Listening
  • The Animal
  • To the Moon and I
  • Rescue Me or Bury Me
  • Sisters
  • Where's Jeremy
  • Treasure Island
  • Salamanders in the Sun
  • Pusa Road
  • Jeremy Colson's drum solo
  • The Ultra Zone
  • Frank
  • Composing 'The New Song'
  • The New Song


  • For the Love of God
  • Taurus Bulba


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