It’s a sell out and the sound on stage, described by Steve Vai as “like cottage cheese”, makes everyone wary. But it all goes off without a hitch and the crowd, thankfully, loves it.
Steve Lukather’s set is first, the hardest spot in the show, warming up a crowd. But they’re happy to see him and give the band a warm welcome. The second song of the set is a dark and grooving Herbie Hancock number “Butterfly” from his 1974 album (recorded in San Francisco!) Thrust. Luke’s version features a powerful extended keyboard solo by Steve Weingart. It goes over very well, beautifully played by the band and faithful to the song’s original dreamy 1970′s groove.
Walking around backstage with my bass strapped on, warming up my fingers, I’m addled by the rug. I try not to look down.
Backstage: they know their target demographic.
Steve Vai and his band begin their set with….wait for it….absolute silence. For about thirty bracing seconds Steve glares at the audience, a sly grin creeping over his face. Then they launch into 45 minutes of astonishingly precise music of such statistical density I become afraid. Goddamn this band can play.
Immediately following our set Luke and Vai joined us on stage and, with Joe and Mike Keneally, the G3 jam (four guitars!) packed every auditory orifice. In the dressing room after the show Vai told a story of performing in New Zealand many years ago and playing “Waltzing Matilda” to a confused then very angry crowd. It’s funny in retrospect. I sit comfortably on the sofa, a cool local lager in my fist. My fingers are sore and my ears are ringing…a small price to pay. This is a gas.