Steve is so on-point with his fingering, you will be hard-pressed to say he's not playing live; certainly only the most technical of guitarists can tell. The only beef I have there is that many of the licks I'd like to see him play are not always visible in at least one of the two video angles. But, that would be true of a REAL live performance as well; maybe even MORE so. After reading this critique, I watched the drummer and bassist. They are on-point, too. Only a drummer or bassist, respectively, may find any discrepancy worth noting between the recorded tracks and their performance. None of the video performance is lacking to the point of distraction. The reason I like this DVD so much is Vai is TOTALLY free to convey the mood of the songs with his expressions, his movements, his dancing, every aspect of these songs. Also, all of the licks are clean only as a studio can render them. The only thing I didn't like was knowing he did not use the exact guitars he played for each song in the studio in this video. I like visually equating the guitar with the sound I'm hearing. Now, I'm no metalist ... my favorite was always Ernie Isley of The Isley Brothers. But, Steve Vai is so remarkable a player, I can't help but get into him, albeit, not so much the thrash as the more melodic and bluesey numbers he performs. I am suitably impressed by the metal virtuosity. However, my favorite tracks on this DVD/CD, in approximate order, are: 1. Boy From Seattle I LOVE this piece! To me, the epitome of rhythm/lead comping throughout, then a straight-up pop-blues solo, moving into a melodic distorted/delayed pyro-solo, and wrapping up with a beautiful chord-laced ending. I just can't get enough of it! 2. Die to Live A musical piece that makes the phrase "music to my ears" have poetic meaning! The other track I simply can't get enough! Though the whole thing uses distortion, the combination of lead resolving into rhythmic chords at just the right times makes my skin dance and my fingers roil! It's hard not to move and sway to this song as you imagine playing it as Steve does, with such intense feeling. This is another example of where his expressiveness takes the songs he plays to additional heights! 3. Tender Surrender I know others probably like this song better than my first two choices, and understandably so! The Benson-style octave phrasing is off the chain! He finger-picks and swells each riff so perfectly and it is amazing! The bridge is a wonderful departure from the basic melody (as with Die to Live) and brings you back around to the main cliche in a very satisfying way. His ending is so apt to the title of the song and I can imagine the emotional collapse of two lovers at the end of having drunk deeply from each others ecstasy. Steve is phenomenal on this piece! 4. Bad Horsie What can I say?! Metal for real, but funky and melodic, still. This has got to be a pick-squeal standard, here. The horse whinnying, the locomotive chugging along ... Steve reproduces it all in perfect rhythm. Truly amazing! I am convinced and converted! Steve Vai will go down as one of the greatest guitarists of all time! I can't help but mention one other song that is a top pick I wish were in this collection: 'For the Love of God'. I know it's not included here, but this song is just as satisfying to me as the above four I've critiqued. Many metalists will enjoy the other songs more, I'm sure. And I am duly impressed with Steve's performance on songs like Juice and Kill the Guy with the Ball/The God Eaters. Ya-Yo Gakk was a fun insert based on how he created it, but I don't listen to those over and over as I do the four I mentioned. This CD and DVD are MUST-HAVES. I've bought them both for myself and even for a friend or two. TOTALLY AWESOME!!!
Michael L. Buie