Review: Ben Hosking
Being a huge Steve Vai fan, it’s hard to confess that we reckon the Great One’s latest CD falls a little flat. A live CD, recorded at the State Theatre in Minneapolis, the vibe of the whole album leaves you feeling a little unsatisfied.
As usual, the performances are perfect – Vai’s choice of backing musician is always spot on. The set list was well paced; including classics like ‘The Audience is Listening’, ‘Liberty’ and ‘For the Love of God’ from his groundbreaking 1990 album ‘Passion and Warfare’. But for the most part, it all just feels a little dead.
Perhaps it’s the production that seems a bit dynamically flat. Perhaps it’s because the audience can only be heard briefly between tracks, leaving the listener to feel as though they’re merely listening to a poorly mixed studio album and not an expertly performed live recording. Either way, Steve would have been better off saving his strength and letting us all savour the delights of the 2009 live DVD ‘Where the Wild Things Are’; also recorded at the State Theatre.
Vai’s playing really comes alive when you can actually see his fleet fingered antics up close and personal in high-resolution – when you can see him stand in front of his ‘cool fan’ unashamedly letting the breeze swoosh his hair back as if he’s in a late 1980s music video. Sadly, in the pure audio domain you don’t get that – nor do you get the super-polished production and performance levels that his studio albums never fail to provide.
This is one for the die-hard fans.