Steve Vai

Live at the Astoria

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Out of all the 'guitar heroes' to surface during the late '80s, one of the few that has continuously put on an entertaining live show is Steve Vai -- no doubt due to the fact that he's had the opportunity to pick up pointers from the likes of Frank Zappa and David Lee Roth. On his first ever full-length concert DVD, the double-disc Live at the Astoria, Vai proves to still be quite a showman -- whether it be going through a variety of costume changes, or striking rock god poses (as a fan continuously blows on his long locks throughout the show). But beneath all the prancing and posing is a heavily talented band, comprised of such heavyweights as bassist Billy Sheehan and second guitarist/keyboardist Tony MacAlpine, who will make any guitar shredder fan drool in delight. The track list focuses on latter day Vai tracks, for the most part ("Giant Balls of Gold," "Bad Horsie," "Jibboom," etc.), but the older and more uncommon selections are what prove to be the real standouts here. Tops include the furious, concert opening rampage of the Talas/Roth nugget "Shy Boy" (with Sheehan on vocals and Vai hiding behind a Prince-like blindfold), several tracks from Passion and Warfare (especially "Erotic Nightmares," "the Animal," and "For the Love of God"), and the lone track from Flex-Able, "the Attitude Song." Also included is a second disc of goofy interviews with members of Vai's backing band (and a longtime guitar tech), as well as rehearsal footage. Those who prefer their guitar heroes to simply play (with little-to-no showmanship) will probably not dig 'Live at the Astoria, since it seems, at times, that Vai is more concerned with posing rather than playing. But for longtime Vai fans, Live at the Astoria is a must see.