April 17, 2016
The Bomb Factory
By Dave Gray
Photos by Michael Insuaste
Steve Vai's Guitar Army Obliterates The Bomb Factory
Despite the rainy weekend, the masses attended Steve Vai's Generation Axe tour in force at the freshly revamped Bomb Factory in Dallas on Sunday night. Joined by Yngwie J. Malmsteen, Zakk Wylde, Nuno Bettencourt and Tosin Abasi, the five musicians performed a "diversity" of guitar magic and mayhem.
The producers of this tour really have their act together. No intermissions, but a seamless three and a half hour set where each musician handed off their solo act to the next guitarist, while joining them for a song for the segue. The stage's backdrop also displayed the artist's name during each individual set, so any new listeners wouldn't be perplexed.
Opening the set, all five guitarists appeared on stage and performed Boston's "Foreplay" for a ten minute grand entrance that gave the audience a taste of what we were all about to witness. The stage was then turned over to Tosin Abasi, the guitarist of Animals As Leaders, who for twenty minutes, showcased his rare eight string guitar, and performed some kind of strange new rock fusion instrumentals. Nuno Bettencourt then returned to the stage and performed "Physical Education" with Tosin, before beginning his set. Nuno opened up his performance with "Get the Funk Out" while singing the vocals as well. Nuno has aged gracefully, looked great, and showcased his set with his sense of humor and playing a medley of his own hooks and licks that he "stole" from a fan on YouTube.
Before turning the stage over solely to Zakk Wylde, Nuno played "Sideways" with Zakk, a Citizen Cope/ Carlos Santana cover. Father Zakk chose to cover some of his favorite artists by performing Black Sabbath's "N.I.B," Hendrix's "Little Wing" and the Allman Brothers classic "Whipping Post" but also cleverly mixed in hints of Robin Trower several times. During "Little Wing" he took his axe into the audience and performed close up for what seemed like fifteen minutes to different rows of happy fans.
Then Zakk introduced Sweden's Yngwie J. Malmsteen, who opened up his set with "Spellbound" before engaging in a forty minute set that included edited versions of some of his greatest hits, solos, and "The Star Spangled Banner." Yngwie's high kicks, flying guitars, and constantly tossing guitar picks everywhere, prove that the man truly is a showman, as well as a musician. While performing his final cut, "Black Star" the aforementioned Steve Vai joined in.
Steve's set included "Racing the World"; an incredible cut which really shows how smooth a guitar player this guy is. It's a difficult song to play but all the while it seemed effortless to him. Simply amazing. "Tender Surrender," "Gravity Storm" and "Building The Church" closed out the set before Steve promised some "surprises." The man is a true humble gentleman, and I personally saw him, as best he could, at the end of the show try to look every fan in the eye and say "thank you."
After Steve's set, the guitar ensemble all returned to the stage to perform a monster version of Edgar Winter's "Frankenstein" in a guitar form, with Tosin Abasi playing the Edgar Winter keyboard solos on the eight string, and all joined in on massive guitar solos. The final cut of the night was Deep Purple's "Highway Star," which was sung by Yngwie and absolutely shredded/destroyed by the fivesome.
It's a cool idea to produce a show like this with no breaks, and continuous virtuosity and diversity for three hours plus. It's hard to go without a drink of some sort for that long, but I did it. The tour goes on for a few more weeks, and if you get a chance to see it, you might bring some ear protection, ‘cause my ears are still ringing.
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