Steve Vai, Eric Sardinas - Roseland 04/25/2005

I've seen Vai five or six times, three of which were G3 tours. Why was this the best concert? Lets see, where to start? At the beginning I suppose...

The only thing I knew about Eric Sardinas is what I've seen of him on Vai's Astoria DVD and what I've read in the guit-rag mags. He plays a resonator guitar with a slide, a thumbpick, and four banjo finger picks. Any of you familiar with Vai's earlier work must surely know 'The Attitude Song' which is kind of like Vai's 'Eruption' from the good old days. Well, on that DVD Sardinas comes out at the end to jam with Vai's band and they do the Attitude Song. Sardinas goes toe to toe with Vai and Macalpine, lick for lick. Remember, Vai and Tony Mac are some seriously killer players with chops to die for and this guy is using a slide on a dobro style guitar. The man was absolutely shredding on that song. It still was not enough to prepare me for what I would witness. He was running his resonator through a 4x12 top and what looked to be maybe a 1x15 bottom with what looked like a VHT head on top. He came out ripping that slide around and getting the most unreal tones I've ever heard from that type of instrument.

For stage presence, let me just say this guy had *IT*. He worked the crowd like a seasoned pro. He had so much charisma that it was oozing out all over everyone. He did so many things that I've never seen done. At one point he muted his amp and just started playing acoustically. People started cheering and yelling and he just put his finger up to his lips, "shhh" and played some stuff just acoustically in the room. It was amazing. One guy got it in his mind to start heckling him at this point and other people in the crowd were yelling at the guy to "shut the f___ up" and whatnot. At one point the guy was just being so loud and unruly that no one could hear the purely acoustic music. Sardinas looked in the guys direction and said, "yeah, i'll see you later buddy" and followed with, "I guess the blues ain't for everybody." He even handled the heckler with the dignity and style of a seasoned performer. Later in the show he went to do another purely acoustic bit and walked out to the front of the stage and motioned a little circle to the people in front of him and said, "this one will be just for us right here" and as the place fell silent he did more of the quiet, completely unampliflied stuff.

As he was leading into his final, incendiary solo, he put one foot out on top of the crowd control wall so he was straddling that and the stage. Then he made a motion like what you'd imagine Moses would do when parting the Red Sea and the crowd moved aside and he hopped down onto the floor. He kept the fiery solo going while walking toward the back of the room. He went right up the stairs to the balcony, played at the back of the venue for a while (he's amplified again during this number with his wireless) and made his way around the back of the balcony to the side. He then walked down to the front row of the balcony and as everyone was standing up he walked between the front row people and the very low railing all the way around that side of the balcony to where there are stairs coming down near the stage. Before using the stairs to get down he managed to use portions of the brass railing as a slide on his guitar. After resuming his position on stage he picked up... THE BEER BOTTLE. I thought, "oh sweet, he's gonna use it as a slide, I just know it." Sure, it's a hackneyed trick of the bar band but I was having such a good time I didn't care. I had no idea what I was in for.

He deftly twisted the cap off and took a swig, held it by the neck and capped his thumb over the top of the bottle. As he was ripping through the solo they hit a full band accent and he spit beer foam high into the air (the reason for the big swig). As he was ripping the bottle along his guitar neck, totally shredding the label off, he was shaking it up and you could see the bottle was almost completely foam. He kept his thumb tight though. Then the started doing more musical accents and while ripping out his solo he would let his thumb slip a little and spray foam from the bottle. He was getting covered in beer foam, his rusty old dobro was also getting covered in beer foam. That officially marked the first time I've ever seen someone in concert covering a vintage guitar with beer. It was just absolutely amazing.

I was laughing out loud. Seriously. I was laughing so hard people around me started looking at me. I didn't care, I was having such a good time. Words on this page can not even begin to describe what an incredible show it was and what a good time I had. I turned to my buddy and was just going on and on about how amazed I was. He just smiled a smile that said, "I have no words, I am content."

Remember, that was JUST the OPENING ACT!!!

Vai. I don't even know where to begin. I guess I would say, witness the marvel that is his "Astoria" DVD which is quite amazing. Then triple the intensity of that show. I don't have the time or stamina to go into tonight in type. Just imagine how much I wrote about the 50 minute opening act, and scale that up accordingly for a 2-1/2+ hour show by Vai. Here are some miscellaneous highlights:

  • Billy Sheehan rules
  • Tony Macalpine has freakin fast fingers
  • Vai is the ultimate showman
  • Vai does the whole lazers coming out of his body at every angle
  • Vai plays bass from BEHIND Billy while Billy twists his arms backward and plays Vai's guitar
  • They mix it up at the front of the stage, all four playing each others guitars
  • Vai does an acoustic set (amplified) in the middle of his show
  • more theatrics than I can recall
  • Sheehan and Macalpine trade instruments during the final jam, not only has Sheehan been ripping out shredding bass solos all night, but he uses Mac's Carvin to shred deftly
  • Sardinas joins them onstage for the final jam, "My Guitar Wants to Kill Your Mama"
  • Vai plays at least four songs from Passion & Warfare
  • Vai does a few songs from Flexable including "Call it Sleep" and some of "The Boy/Girl Song"
  • Colson uses a small percussion and sampling rig during the acoustic stuff
  • Colson rules
  • Sheehan rules
  • Macalpine rules
  • Billy Sheehan rules

It may not seem like a lot in that list, but I assure you, Vai's show trumped Sardinas. After the show I remarked to my buddy that Sardinas could never open for anyone other than Vai, because he would blow any lesser man off the stage.

That's all for now. See the show if you get the chance!

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