Favored Nations Records
Metal Express Rating: 8.5/10
Release Date: 2009-09-29
by: GEORGE FUSTOS
Email: george (at) metalexpressradio (dot) com
In most cases when a virtuoso guitarist comes out with new material for the general public or his fans, it is deemed to be a hot item the day it is released. Then in some cases, depending on the artist, that stigma could remain attached for that week or even perhaps several weeks. Of course several factors come into play in determining just how long this new release stays in the public mainstream. Is it because the artist is a bit eccentric and curiosity more than anything else is the driving factor behind the fans’ obsession in obtaining this new material? In Vai’s case, eccentricity and talent are the key factors without a doubt.
When asked about his band and the show he has put together for this tour, Vai simply states, “When I put a band and a show together I try to create an entertainment experience that I would like to have if I was sitting in the audience, I like to witness great musicianship but nothing too cerebral or overindulgent…” For this tour Vai has surrounded himself with world-class musicians in every sense of the word. Virtuoso violinists and keyboardists Ann Marie Calhoun and Alex DePue add a new dimension to an already complete, talented, and able-bodied band. Bassist Bryan Beller, drummer Jeremy Colson, guitarist Dave Weiner are the normal members who play alongside Mr. Vai on any given night. Additionally, Zack Wiesinger was chosen as the band’s lap steel guitar player.
Where the Wild Things Are was recorded and filmed live at the State Theater in Minneapolis, Minnesota before a sold-out audience as part of Vai’s Sound Theories World Tour on September 19, 2007. It is being released in the United States on September 29, 2009 on the Favored Nations Records label and available on CD, DVD, and Blu-Ray format. Favored Nations happens to be Vai’s own record label that he started back in 1996. The album was mixed at The Harmony Hut, in Encino, California which just so happens to be one of two recording studios that Steve owns. The other one called Mothership is located in Hollywood Hills, California. Knowing his admiration for music theory and his persistence in excellence, any one of these two could be labeled his home-away-from-home.
As far as music DVD’s go this one is no different. It must be noted that the picture quality is pretty much as good as one could expect. The sound quality is another issue. It is off the charts to put it bluntly. Having watched it through a normal DVD player and your average television, it was decent enough. However, when watched through a PC with an Altec Lansing speaker system, it was off the charts. The sound production is something one has to hear to believe.
There are several key points throughout this concert worth mentioning. Vai makes an extra effort to communicate with his audience in a warm and friendly manner that is both tasteful and almost humorous at times. He also goes the extra mile to showcase his band members at subtitle 6, “Band Intros.” Not only does he state the musicians name for the crowd, he keeps it light with a little give-and-take with each member as they showcase themselves by playing a few notes on their given instrument. Steve follows up by reading a poem that had to be written somewhere in outer space. This is something that has to be witnessed by all. At subtitle 9, “Shove the Sun Aside,” Dave Weiner gets a chance to let go as he performs his guitar solo. Near the end of subtitle 11, “Die To Live,” Bryan does a short but incredible bass solo that shouldn’t be missed. At subtitle 13, “Apples In Paradise,” there is a duel violin solo that takes place and brings the crowd to its feet. DePue also does an incredibly difficult but mind blowing solo himself on violin that is absolutely fabulous. Even if you’re not a fan of the violin, the talent that it takes to perform what these two individuals throw out at the audience is something not to be taken lightly. At subtitle 16, “Beastly Rap,” Jeremy comes out with this voodoo looking contraption that is some sort of home-rigged drumset that is harnessed to his body. This allows him to walk around while he bangs on the drums. It has a skull at the forefront that has eyes that light up (lasers) and breathes smoke. This is another must see highlight. Colson follows this up by returning to his normal drumset to perform his actual drum solo. The highlight of the evening has to be subtitle 21, “The Murder.” This is something new that Vai came up with and what he does with the guitar has you staring in amazement.
There are twenty-seven song titles or subtitles covered between the two-disc set. Only eight subtitles are found on the second disc but this is where the Bonus Material section is situated. According to the back of the DVD case, this is where Band Interviews, Behind the Scenes, and a Jemini Distortion Demonstration are to be found. The one problem with this double-disc set was no Behind the Scenes section found on the second disc. As far as Bonus sections go, this particular one left much to be desired. It was uneventful for the most part and left a void that could have been filled with so much other desirable information the fans would have loved to see. This is basically the only knock against this two-disc set. In the overall picture it’s not much to bitch about so don’t let that stand in the way of you purchasing it.
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