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Hundreds Pay Homage To Late Singer
Vai's Generation Axe Slices Through Dallas' Bomb Factory Photo by Rene Rivera

The quintet opened the set with all five guitarists onstage at once performing the 1970's instrumental "Hocus Pocus" by Focus (a hard rock anthem, before there was hard rock). The song featured each musician as they took turns performing a few bars of a guitar solo, and then slickly passed the torch to the next guitarist, which seemed to throw gasoline on it, igniting their own instrument, smoking, blazing hot. The rhythm of the song is a fast-paced epic, and the band provided the lush background as each guitarist took their turn with the torch.

Extreme guitarist Nuno Bettencourt opened his segment with "Get the Funk Out" (including the vocals) and then showed that he still has the chops as well. I'm not sure where or what he's doing these days, but he hasn't lost a step from the days of Extreme. Acoustically, or electrically, his lightning fingers and heavy tones are awesome, bewildering. I was impressed. He performed a psychotic medley of Extreme solos and such that left me wondering if I sure go ahead and turn my electric guitar body into a coffee table. (see Spinal Tap).

Surprisingly, Steve Vai was next up. Sirens wailing, red police lights racing, Vai opened his set with "There's a Fire in the House", which kind of summarized the night, in my opinion. The song, a smoking track written over 20 years ago is a blazing number which features Steve at his best, especially with the wah pedal and tremolo. He also donned a green hat for "The Animal" on a green set which looked really cool before launching into "For the Love of God". I've seen "Father Steve" several times, but tonight FTLOG song seemed really perfect, every note like the original record, a beautiful melody. He even eased in a bit of Christmas spirt at the end with "God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen". I was really impressed, again. He never ceases to amaze.

The conclusion was a five-man electrical band, a short set which included Edgar Winter's "Frankenstein", Deep Purple's "Burn" and Queen's "Bohemian Rhapsody", an instrumental. Steve said that they worked very hard on this song and it showed. It was a delightful rarity which featured Nuno and Steve doing most of the demanding vocal parts on the guitar. It was a cool end to a cool show on a cool evening. Thanks guys, happy holidays!

John O'Daniel Memorial
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Author: David Simers
Photographer: Chuck Flores
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