June 2016, Newcastle O2 Academy
By Gordon Armstrong (G’s Gig Shots)
Minutes before the lights went out, a more experienced photographer confided in me that he was feeling unusually nervous about shooting this one, as it was one of his all time guitar heroes… that kinda calmed me a bit as I only found out I had a pit pass two hours before the gig, I was cacking myself at the thought of cocking it up being so close to a huge guitar legend like STEVE VAI!
Saying that I nearly didn’t get any photos as when the lights went down the video screen kicked in with the segment from the movie Crossroads where the kid accepts the devils challenge to “cut heads” with his boy Jack Butler (Vai) I was transfixed as the band walked on and the opening slide/wah of Bad Horsie kicked in, I looked down saw my camera and thought “ooh shit yeah I can take some photos”.
Vai came out in a cloud of dry ice face hidden by a hood and luminous green shades and as the track kicked in 2 laser beams cut through the smoke from the specs and thus began a 2 hour 20 orgy of guitar!! Bad Horsie led into one of my all time favourite tracks The Attitude Song from Flexable, however this was the 25th anniversary tour for Passion and Warfare and after another track he and his band performed said album in full. Along the way there were a couple of guitar duets with Satriani and Pettrucci via a video screen, and a shout out for local boy Thomas McRocklin when The Audience is Listening was played (he was at the gig, shame he didn’t get up and join in!).
He wasn’t finished there though, another selection of tracks including Stevies Spanking performed alongside a video of his mentor Frank Zappa and the usual build a song with audience members. Vai has around him an incredible band too but lets face it everyone is there to see him and they’re good with that.
The best thing though was that he looked like he was having an absolute hoot up there even playing to our cameras down front and still possessing some of the best guitar faces ever known!
It was not a night everyone would warm to, full on guitar for that length of time, but I loved it!!
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