Steve Vai’s Passion and Warfare 25th Anniversary Tour
Guitar legend Steve Vai will be shredding on our stage next month.
Guitar virtuoso Steve Vai shreds guitar like nobody’s business. His dexterity, intensity, and genius at the guitar are second to none. It doesn’t matter if you’re a huge fan or if you’ve never heard of him: you can’t deny his mastery of rock music’s most defining instrument. It was precisely his art, his technique, and his experience that all culminated into the perfect storm that became Passion and Warfare, which was released in 1990. Just check out this 2005 video of one of his most famous songs from the album, “For the Love of God,” performed with an orchestra. (Vai’s visit to the Centre will be with his touring band.)
Vai is now on his 25th anniversary tour for Passion and Warfare. One of the most sought-after guitarists in the music industry, he has soared beyond the stratosphere with his success. But how did he get to that level? Was he a childhood prodigy? Born with a guitar in his hand? Although he describes his first musical epiphany as happening at age 5 (when he walked by a piano, hit a key, and realized that each key was higher or lower than the next), he didn’t begin studying guitar until he was 13. His teacher until age 18 was a guitar legend in his own right, Joe Satriani. Vai then attended the Berklee College of Music in Boston and became a transcriptionist for Frank Zappa. By his fourth semester, he left Massachusetts for California to tour with Zappa.
Over the years, he played with different bands: Alcatrazz, David Lee Roth’s band, Whitesnake, and recorded with many famous artists, including Mary J. Blige, Ozzy Osbourne, Spinal Tap. In between, he was always experimenting with his own music.
For Vai, the verdict is still out: emotional content or technique? In a July 2016 interview with Guitar World, he offers this insight: “That’s a common question I get and it’s a common dilemma in many people’s minds. My answer to it is this: In any field that you’re in, whether it’s art or business, music, whatever, sports especially, you have to go through a phase where you’re developing your technique and you have to focus on preparing your vehicle, so to speak.”
However, he continues, once you have that technique, in order to give the music any fire, you have to go deeper. “The technique becomes your tool to express something deeper. If you don’t go there, then your product is going to sound cold, intellectual and void of any real energy. That can be a trap for some people. You can fascinate yourself with your own technique and get lost in it.”
He was once quoted as saying that he doesn’t try to be better, he tries to be different. Reading several of his interviews gives you some insight into how he thinks: he hears sounds in his mind, sometimes bizarre ones, not always guitar ones, and tries to find a way to make those sounds come alive in the real world. That’s where technique and art meld for him. Whether he needs to co-invent the seven-string guitar (the Ibanez Universe) or record 24 guitars backwards, he’ll do what’s needed to get the sound he wants.
The Centre In The Square is part of Vai’s Passion and Warfare 25th Anniversary tour; he’ll be here on October 30th. Get your tickets now for this historic concert.