G3/Steve Vai @ The Sun Theater, Anaheim CA 06/27/01
One of the more unusual gigs I’ve attended, venue wise. Dbfield and I made the trip to Anaheim to see this shred fest. The Sun Theater was a good venue, intimate and well maintained and cared for. However they had a policy of requiring a dinner purchase with every reserved seating ticket order. So much of the venue is filled with long tables. It was an awkward arrangement, and some fans ignored the dinner purchase, much to the frustration of the waiters. I asked the guys across from us “hey what’s up the the waiter?” A Satriani fan, he replied “Oh he’s an asshole! I told him I was fine with my water for now and he gave me a hard time.” So hopefully this policy is revisited or revamped, because the tension detracts from the concert experience. At least at the House of Blues you’re not “required” to buy any food.
As usual, Vai went with the “more is more” approach when assembling his live band. The band was an impressive collection of musicians, including ex David Lee Roth/Mr. Big bassist Billy Sheehan, Frank Zappa alumnus Mike Keneally on keyboards/guitar, Dave Wiener on additional guitar, and the unbelievably gifted drummer Virgil Donati. They reminded me of one of Zappa’s bands. Geniuses on their instruments…but they looked like a bunch of misfits and freaks! LOL. Billy Sheehan looked like a scrawny spinster holding a massive bass, long bushy hair tied back. Mike Keneally is huuuuuge. That man has put on a lot of weight over the years, and he was dressed rather casually: shorts, a T and a vest, and what looked like a fisherman’s cap. He looked like a big dude going camping or something. Dave Weiner looked like some young skater kid plucked off the street. Donati and Vai were the only guys that looked like actual rock stars, but who cares really.
It was a typical Vai show, with virtuoso musicianship and flair. That is not always a good thing unfortunately. The set grew tiring, and the performance got to the point that the wizardry became noodling, like long winded musical masturbation. I greatly enjoy Vai’s work on record. He’s the showy, flashy yin to Joe Satriani’s bluesy, Hendrix-like yang (it’s impossible to have a conversation about Vai WITHOUT having a conversation about Satriani, they go hand in hand). But translated onstage, there’s great potential to bore the audience. Another Donati collaborator, keyboardist Derek Sherinian (Alice Cooper, Billy Idol, Dream Theater) said it best: play like that all the time and it (the music) becomes boring. That’s exactly what happened. I surveyed the crowd a bit and there was a dichotomy. There was a section of fans that were very into the show, at attention, and eating it up. And there was another group of people that looked tired and were holding their heads up. Keep in mind we were all seated at dinner tables. Have a meal, get comfy, become a little bored…and you’re ready for a nap. Still glad I was able to witness one of the guitar masters live. Highlight for me was Donati’s insane drum solo. What I can’t get over was the portion where he twirled his sticks while maintaining a backbeat on the kick and snare. That asshole.
Giant Balls of Gold
Blood & Glory
Whispering a Prayer
For the Love of God