Steve Vai at the London Palladium | Passion and Warfare 25th Anniversary Tour | June 2 - 2016 | Live Review
Steve Vai has had many memorable shows in the UK’s capital city during his solo career. Highlights include his December 2001 shows at the fabled Astoria (that would later feature on his first live DVD) to playing at the Royal Albert Hall as part of the 2004 edition of the G3 tour, to name just a couple. However the choice of a 2,000 plus, all seated, grade II listed theater in the heart of London’s west end may have seemed a bit stuffy to celebrate the anniversary of one of instrumental rock’s most famous albums on paper, but in reality, it was the perfect location for a truly theatrical event.
Although titled the Passion and Warfare 25th Anniversary Tour, it was apparent from the first few notes that the night wasn’t going to be only about the 1990 album.
As the short clip from the 1986 movie Crossroads played on the big screen, a hooded figure took to the dimly lit stage. Lasers appearing to beam from his eyes and led-fitted Ibanez Jem ‘Bo’(The mirror finished guitar famously stolen last year at a benefit show for Tony MacAlpine, later found left in the bushes at the gate of Steve’s property). Vai set a menacing tone, recreating a key scene from his role as the devil’s “axe-man” Jack Butler in the film, performing the riff that would become the intro to “Bad Horsie” with the movie clip synced behind him.
With the many of the crowd already out of their seats, the full band featuring long-time members; Philip Bynoe (Bass), Dave Weiner (Guitars/Keys) and Jeremy Colson (Acoustic & Electronic Drums) kick in for a note perfect and powerful rendition of the instrumental piece from Steve’s 1995 EP, Alien Love Secrets.
Surprisingly, it’s over a half-hour into the show before even a snippet of material from the tours namesake. Following a slightly lengthy version of “Whispering a Prayer,” Vai addressed the sold-out audience. He gave some surprising insight regarding his musical mindset during the inception period of the record through to its completion and subsequent early live performances in stating; “I thought; I’m gonna play this entire record with a really great band all around the world! I don’t know what I was thinking because this shit’s hard to play”. Although said tongue-in-cheek, it's still a testament to Vai’s constant pursuit of pushing it to the limit when it comes to his writing.
A highlight of the night was “The Riddle”, not only for the fact that the fifth track off the sophomore release is rarely performed but because the nearly seven-minute epic performance was at times breathtaking in the band's delivery. Vai once described the track as “The ever-burning glorious nimbusly exalted question mark”. Now I have no idea what that actually means, however after experiencing the songs many modal twists and turns swirled around the venue, I now appreciate it in a whole new light, with its many sections held together, like your brain piecing together the seemingly unrelated events of the day in a dream. It’s madness, but somehow it makes perfect sense.
Due to a policy of the historic venue, a twenty-minute intermission had to be taken during the show. This worked well and complemented the dynamic set, with the first half closing with Passion and Warfare’s centerpiece; “For the Love of God” and kick-starting of the second half with the rowdy and unforgiving; “The Audience is Listening”. The later featured an additional on-screen special guest (one of two special appearances of the night. Who were they you ask? Well that would be telling) trading solo’s with Vai during the song.
The shows climax skillfully brought everything full circle, in referencing the virtuoso’s career beginnings as a part of the Frank Zappa’s band with “Build me a Song”. A now regular part of Steve’s last few tours (and a more light-hearted affair compared to the seriousness of the earlier set), the part audience participation/part musical experiment/part stand-up is a real crowd pleaser with most of the audience. At times seeming to channel Zappa to provide some great fan service for those who miss his onstage humour as much as his musical talents. This followed on nicely from Zappa’s “Stevie’s Spanking” before closing the show with an offering from 1997’s Fire Garden, "Taurus Bulba".
As part of the celebration of the 25th anniversary of the 'Passion and 'Warfare' album, Steve Vai will be releasing an expanded version of the classic album, newly remastered from the original analog tapes, along with four bonus songs.
As a 2CD set, it will also include Modern Primitive, a collection of thirteen previously unreleased tracks that Steve has labeled on his website. "The missing link between Flex-Able and Passion and Warfare."
The album package will be available from Friday 24th June 2016. To celebrate this momentous occasion Licklibrary are offering up to 60% Off our Steve Vai Ultimate Collection Lesson Bundle. Click here to see this awesome offer - www.licklibrary.com/store/offers
Steve Vai at the London Palladium: Passion and Warfare 25th Anniversary Tour - June 2, 2016
The Attitude Song
Whispering a Prayer
Passion and Warfare (Part One):
For the Love of God
Passion and Warfare (Part Two):
The Audience is Listening
I Would Love to
Greasy Kid’s Stuff
Alien Water Kiss
Stevie’s Spanking (Frank Zappa Cover)
Build me a Song
Racing the world
Fire Garden Suite IV- Tarus Bulba