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Steve Vai - Live At The Astoria CD (album) cover

LIVE AT THE ASTORIA

Steve Vai

 

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3.92 | 29 ratings

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Petrovsk Mizinski
Prog Reviewer
3 stars In this performance, Vai is supported with a great line up, featuring the supremely talented Tony Macalpine, Dave Weiner, the legendary Virgil Donati on drums and bass maestro Billy Sheehan. There is also some classic and truly iconic Vai songs on the set list. Yet, even with all this, I cannot help but feel somewhat disappointed by this DVD. It starts off on a good rocker, Shy Boy, which if I recall is a song from Vai's David Lee Roth. A good song, but nothing spectacular and perhaps not the best opening song.

The next song, Giant Balls of Gold, is one of the better performances on here, with some great display's of Vai's amazing vibrato control, great melody, great solos and a cool duel between Sheehan And Steve towards the end of the song. Erotic Nightmares is great, just as good as the studio album version in it's instrumental playing, and featuring some cool guitar interplay between Macalpine and Vai. Blood and Glory is where some of the problems seem to start. While in general the performance was good, there seems to have been some strange intonation issues at one point in the song, which sometimes make me cringe slightly. Dave's Party Piece is a little solo piece from Weiner, good but not particularly stunning, but a welcome addition to the set nonetheless. Blue Powder was top notch, well played and Sheehan really mastered the bass solo well. The Crying Machine, sounded pretty good, but we really being to encounter some truly irritating visual effects and far too much camera angle cutting, which really detract from the performance. The Animal continues with irritating camera work at times. Vai added a middle section with some noodling around/improvising, but this gets boring after many views of this DVD and should have been left out of the song. Bangkok, is again a camera angle barf fest, but otherwise fairly good. Tony gives us a keyboard solo while Vai dresses up for the next song, and I have to say, this solo is astounding stuff, highly emotional and technical at times, which would make anyone jealous of his ability to switch between guitar and keyboards so effortlessly. Bad Horsie, which has become a somewhat classic Vai song, features Vai dressed up appropiately crazy and 'heavy' for this rendition of the song. Unfortunately I can't watch this song everytime I put this DVD on, as he does a lengthy section consisting of noises and feedback which is cool to watch the first time, but I began to question if it was at all neccessary as it just seems to drag on. Chameleon is a song from one of Billy Sheehan's solo records, which I found to be a pretty boring song in the studio album format, and is unfortunately not much more interesting in this live format and could have been left off this DVD. Deep Down Into The Pain doesn't start off sounding like the album version, instead featuring guitar solos from all three guitarists, and then a duel between Macalpine and Vai and then the intro of the actual song before the vocals kick in. It's fun viewing to see the shred skills of all three guitarists on here, but the annoying visual effects are not so much fun to watch though. A rendition of Hendrix's Fire is next, with some hilarious banter from Vai before the song begins, but honestly I feel this wasn't a necessary inclusion in the set list, and the camera work/editing during the solo make it somewhat unbearable to watch the whole track. Little Wing was a lot better, with not only Vai's take on the original solo, but a nice solo of his own afterward, featuring his trademark right hand cross over muting technique. A truly great solo here. Whispering a Prayer is the best here on this DVD, and easily the most watchable for me. It's not the same as the Alive In An Ultra World version, but this is still just as beautiful and touching. The build up the to the solo is truly amazing, and the solo itself fast and fluid but still very melodic and uplifting. The rest of the DVD is somewhat less interesting than Whispering A Prayer for the most part, which is unfortunate. Incantation is a good song, with much of Vai's great compositional ability, followed by Donati's thundering drum solo, another highlight of the DVD. Jibboom is good at first, but somehow just seems less interesting than the studio album version, and perhaps extended too long than necessary. This DVD features easily the worst performance of For The Love of God in all of Vai's discography at this point in time. It just makes me cringe and I cannot bear to watch it, and there is a lot of noticeable mistakes in his playing, such as the beginning of the first fast two string lick where he just trills for a little bit before he recovers into the rest of the solo properly. This should have been left off the DVD for sure. Liberty was very good, with a few more guitar fills than the studio album version, and Vai is clearly having fun here and his playing is just as emotive as the original album version. The Attitude song is fun as always, and features blues-rock virtuoso guitarist Eric Sardinas as a guest player. There is solos from all guitarists here, as well as Sheehan, and I must say at least this song ended the set on a positive note. All in all, a good DVD, but not great, and perhaps at least 15-20 minutes too long for my liking and too many bad visual effects, some shoddy camera work/editing and some botched perfomances.

Petrovsk Mizinski | 3/5 |

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