Steve Vai, the celebrated maestro of the guitar, made his presence felt at Helsinki’s esteemed Kulttuuritalo on May 7th, 2023. The audience was treated to a night that would endure in their memories, as Vai’s final performance of the tour surpassed all expectations. With each chord, riff, and intricate melody, Vai proved a level of skill and artistry that reaffirmed his position as one of the greatest guitarists of our time. The atmosphere was electric, with every note resonating deep within the souls of those fortunate enough to witness this musical genius in action.
The evening began with a burst of energy, as Vai launched into “Avalancha,” instantly capturing the audience’s attention with its powerful riffs and dynamic tempo. The venue reverberated with the thunderous sound of Vai’s guitar, setting the stage for an epic musical journey. Keeping the momentum going, Vai transitioned seamlessly into “Giant Balls of Gold,” a fan-favorite track from his 1996 album “Fire Garden.” The intricate guitar work and complex composition demonstrated Vai’s ability to seamlessly blend technicality and emotion, leaving the audience spellbound.
The mood then shifted to a more subdued atmosphere with “Little Pretty,” a hauntingly beautiful instrumental with emotional and evocative melodies. He then brought the energy back up with “Tender Surrender,” one of his most recognizable and beloved songs, which featured his trademark blend of melodic phrasing and technical prowess. Moving on to “Lights Are On,” Vai continued to show off his musical diversity with a funky and groovy track that got the crowd dancing. He then surprised the audience with “Incantation,” a track that featured his techs on three additional guitars, creating a wall of sound that was both impressive and awe-inspiring.
The mood then shifted to a bass solo by Philip Bynoe, which allowed Vai to take a breather while his talented bandmate proved himself perfectly capable of keeping up. The energy then picked back up with “Candlepower,” a track that featured a guitar solo by Dante Frisiello, another of Vai‘s talented band members. Vai then launched into “Building the Church,” a track that showcased his seamless blending of technique, melody, and emotion. He followed up with “Greenish Blues,” a funky and groovy track that got the crowd moving.
One of the highlights of the night was undoubtedly “Bad Horsie,” a track that featured Vai‘s signature use of the wah-pedal, creating a distinctive and unforgettable sound. He then followed up with “I’m Becoming,” a soaring and epic track that is cinematic and grandiose. “Whispering a Prayer” followed a beautiful and emotive track full of soaring and evocative melodies. He then moved on to “Dyin’ Day,” a frenetic track with lightning-fast finger-work.
The energy then shifted to a drum solo by Jeremy Colson, in another spectacular performance. As the evening unfolded, anticipation built in the air, and whispers spread through the crowd about a special moment that was about to unfold, and then, in a moment that seemed suspended in time, Vai revealed his three-necked Ibanez Hydra guitar, eliciting gasps of astonishment and excitement from the audience. And then it began: the opening notes of “Teeth of the Hydra” rang out and a wave of exhilaration washed over the audience. The distinctive sound produced by the 3-necked guitar was unlike anything we had ever heard before. The combination of rich, melodic tones and intricate harmonies created a sonic tapestry that seemed to transport everyone to a different realm.
He then launched into “Zeus in Chains,” a track that showcased his technical prowess and ability to create complex and intricate guitar arrangements. The night then ended on a high note with “Liberty,” a fan-favorite track that got the crowd singing along and dancing. For the grand finale, Steve Vai delivered a mesmerizing rendition of “For the Love of God.” With each haunting note, the audience was captivated by the raw emotion pouring from Vai‘s guitar. Dano G.‘s expert sound engineering elevated the experience with his operatic voice, ensuring every nuance resonated with breathtaking clarity.
Of course, there was an encore, wherein Vai delivered a stunning rendition of “Fire Garden Suite IV – Taurus Bulba.” With this final performance, Vai left the audience in awe and cemented his status as one of the most talented and innovative guitarists of his generation.
In conclusion, Steve Vai’s performance at Kulttuuritalo in Helsinki was nothing short of extraordinary. From the electrifying energy of the opening notes to the heartfelt and captivating melodies, Vai proved his remarkable skill and left an indelible impression on everyone.
Written by Peter Jerman
- Giant Balls of Gold
- Little Pretty
- Tender Surrender
- Lights Are On
- Bass Solo (Philip Bynoe)
- Guitar Solo (Dante Frisiello)
- Building the Church
- Greenish Blues
- Bad Horsie
- I’m Becoming
- Whispering a Prayer
- Dyin’ Day
- Drum Solo (Jeremy Colson)
- Teeth of the Hydra
- Zeus in Chains
- For the Love of God (featuring Dano G.)
- Fire Garden Suite IV – Taurus Bulba (encore)