Steve Vai's new concert DVD, "Stillness In Motion," showcases Vai and Band at Club Nokia in Los Angeles on October 12th of 2012. It's a fantastic sort of homecoming for Vai and crew following an exhaustive tour during which they criss-crossed the globe. This was the 49th concert of the tour and viewers will appreciate how the previous 48 shows fostered a cohesion of the band. We get a balance of early tour energy with the absolute confidence of a group truly performing as a single unit.
Like his mentor, Frank Zappa, only top-notch players need apply. Zappa's broad orchestral approach to instrumentation was nicely adopted by Vai's inclusion of Deborah Henson-Conant on harp. No, not a "blues harp," but not quite the stereotypical harp of the cherubim and seraphim either. An electric harp with a strap and built-in lights, masterfully manipulated with a delicate elegance such as I've never seen before.
The band hits the stage with furious intensity on "Racing The World" with a level of stage production rarely seen for virtuoso performers. A few songs in, Vai eases into a parallel universe Wes Montgomery vibe with a sublime rendition of "Tender Surrender." "Gravity Storm" has a palpable effect; is this what it would feel like to walk the plains of Jupiter?
All the musicians are given their chance to shine. Dave Weiner demonstrates why Steve has kept him around all these years. In addition to mind blowing harmony leads and call & response licks, Weiner picks up the acoustic with 2 capos (perhaps he could just retune). He deftly coaxes sounds both soothing and exhilarating as he melts into the audience with his instrumental "The Trillium Launch."
When the boss-man returns to the stage we are treated to a transcendently gorgeous "Weeping China Doll." Next up is a profound lesson in advanced "Don't judge a book by its cover-ism." Guest Vocalist Beverly McClellan is brought out for a visit to the Church of the Surreal as the Gospel-Blues standard, "John The Revelator," is re-imagined in a way that retains a fidelity to the passion and feel of the original genre filtered through Vai's wonderfully quirky idiom. This is not your Grandfather's Mahalia Jackson, 'tho the pipes and performance leave you feeling redeemed. An acoustic rendering of "Salamanders In The Sun" is a lovely surprise.
One last detail that deserves some recognition is the video editing. Finally someone gets it; we want to see the guitarist's fingers! There are even some cool headstock-cam shots of the master's digits working their magic on an Ibanez. Too bad they didn't have this for "The Song Remains The Same."
There are many more riches to be found here than can be covered in a review. But hey... enough of my yakkin.' Stop reading this and go get your own copy and watch it yourself.
- James H
To Purchase Steve Vai: Stillness in Motion go to: bit.ly/VaiStillnessinMotion
Steve Vai ~ Stillness In Motion: Vai Live In L.A. Interview with GuitarHD.com