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Stillness in Motion: Vai Live in L.A.
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Stillness In Motion: Vai Live in L.A. was recorded October 2012 at Club Nokia in LA while Steve was on his two year worldwide Story of Light tour. This live 2CD features new, arresting arrangements of his classic material and fan favorites, including material from his latest album, 2012 s The Story Of Light.
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I was at a STORY OF LIGHT concert in 2012. It was fantastic! Mind numbing guitar work, which we expect from Steve, but this concert was longer than any other Vai concert I've been to. Ending the concert with TAURUS BULBA was a masterful decision: wonderful to hear part of The Fire Garden Suite live! A heavy yet lyrical guitar fest.
It's way too early to give a comprehensive review of this CD as it was just released yesterday: I need to listen to all of the nuisances to give a full-on review of every piece, but here's what stuck out for me:
Starting the concert with RACING THE WORLD was brilliant when I saw it live, and sounds just as energetic and refreshing on this CD as it does on THE STORY OF LIGHT CD. This piece soars! Great opener!
GRAVITY STORM is genius. I remember emailing Steve and telling him I LOVED the whammy bar work on this tune: it was recorded sans whammy bar! This is one of my favorite Vai compositions on THE STORY OF LIGHT...it's a raw, guitar oriented instrumental reminiscent of compositions on the Alien Love Secrets EP. The lipstick cam video released by Vai on YouTube captures the playful seriousness of this piece. Yes...playful seriousness!
SALAMANDERS IN THE SUN gets a beautiful, albeit in my opinion too short, makeover on acoustic guitar.
THE AUDIENCE IS LISTENING: I prefer this version to the one on LIVE IN ASTORIA. It's more bare bones and to the point. Plus, I love hearing Steve's grammar school teacher yelling at him in the background.
The new intro to Steve's homage to Zappa, aptly titled FRANK, literally brought tears to my eyes. A fan of Zappa's for over 30 years, I can only imagine what goes through Steve's mind as he plays this piece. I'm glad it's been made available on this CD.
PUSA ROAD, THE MOON AND I, and RESCUE ME OR BURY ME were tunes I was not expecting to hear on this tour. Bravo!
In the liner notes to the double CD and DVD, Steve talks about reaching a place of union with the music, the guitar, the band, and the audience. He calls this the "Ultra Zone". I do believe WEEPING CHINA DOLL is an example of that synergy. This piece is mysterious, powerful, and lovely.
I must admit that I saw the concert in a converted movie theatre (replete with balcony), and the CD actually sounds better than the venue (I was sitting under the balcony in the section reserved for disabled folk, so there you go). So as far as the sound and dynamics of this live CD, it is spot on. The mix is perfect: You can hear every instrument. Nothing gets lost in the mix.
I cannot wait to see the DVD. This concert had the most beautiful light show. Every song was illustrated with a most gorgeous, yet simple, computerized lighting design. You'll have to see it to understand what I mean.
As far as the band goes, anyone who knows anything about music theory can appreciate how difficult these compositions are to play, yet this band is flawless (ok...there are a few missteps, but they're minor and this IS live).
Steve's guitar work gets more fluid and lyrical every year (as if I even thought that could be possible). He told me that by the end of the show he literally has to will his fingers to move. Whatever he's doing, it's working (check out TAURUS BULBA after FOR THE LOVE OF GOD!)
Jeremy Colson continues to floor me, making a 5-6 piece drum set sound as full as Virgil Donati's...that's no small feat. This is a cliche, but he IS a powerhouse of a drummer.
The ONE musician who truly shined--and you can hear her contributions to the tunes better on the CD than I could live in concert, is Deborah Henson-Conant. As stated above, she is a harp player extraordinaire. I was actually weary about a harpist joining the band...until I saw her live!
I have to believe that the reviewer who dissed this as "just another Vai album" didn't actually listen to it. He posted his review right after the release. One look at the track listing renders his review moot: there are MANY new pieces and different arrangements on songs we've come to expect and love from Steve over the years.
My point: I've been a Vai fan for over 30 years. I prefer this to WHERE THE WILD THINGS ARE and I've only listened to STILLNESS IN MOTION in its entirety twice. I have listened to a handful of tunes several times over. That's saying a lot.
This is a bare bones rocking live guitar album.
The song arrangements and track listing are unique and new.
JUST GO FOR IT!
If you're a fan, I'm sure that you'll be buying this record anyway but if you're not really familiar with his work but are a fan of very solid compositions with a lot of heartfelt emotion in them, you need this. Don't be mistaken. I do not see Steve Vai as a "shredder" although he can certainly play at any tempo that he wants to, it's his compositional skills that really amaze me and what, to me, separates him from his peers. There is no noodling going on here, each note has impact and meaning. I'm not bagging on any players out there because there are a lot of very talented players making very good and worthy music, but to me, Steve Vai is on another level. Get this!
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Both at his art, and at his production skills.
The extra DVD is just as valuable and important as the show itself.Read more