Hard rock guitar virtuoso Steve Vai flew to Long Island on Nov. 3 to be inducted into the Long Island Music Hall of Fame, but not before he stopped at the Algonquin Commons Theatre on Nov. 2 as part of the 25th anniversary tour for his second studio album, Passion and Warfare.
“I thought, this is it. This is the end of my career,” Vai told the audience as he reflected on the time he spent writing the album. “No one’s going to get this music, it’s too weird. Yet, here we are, 25 years later.”
Vai threw up his arms and the audience roared.
In an interview with the Times two weeks before the show, Vai said Passion and Warfare was one of his favourite albums he’s written because he followed his own creative desires instead of trying to cater to what other people might want to hear.
Vai told the Times the solo he enjoys playing the most is from the track For the Love of God.
“I never get tired of it,” said Vai. “I just feel appreciation and gratitude pouring through me, just the joy of being.”
His passion certainly showed. Right from the haunting opening notes, the crowd was enthralled. Bodies swayed in sync with every note he played.
The Long Island Music Hall of Fame website calls Vai “a visionary composer and consummate producer who sculpts musical sound with infinite creativity and technical mastery.”
According to Patrick Dempsey, an 18-year-old computer science student at Algonquin, anyone who’s picked up a guitar knows Steve Vai.
“I think it will be a religious experience to see him,” said Dempsey as he waited in line before the show with his friend Michael McAsey, 19. “He’s one of the best prodigy guitar players that are good at their technical skills, but are also very melodic.”
McAsey, a computer science student at Carleton University, said Vai plays a special kind of music that is especially appealing to musicians.
“Anyone who can appreciate his art is going to be drawn to him,” said McAsey. “It spans across all ages and generations.”
McAsey wasn’t wrong. Fans young and old filled the theatre to see Vai in action. Loïc Gendron, 11, was one of the youngest faces in the audience.
“I don’t know anyone else my age who listens to him,” Gendron said in French as his father, Frantz, translated for him. “I’m really excited to see him play. I really loved his last tour, when he was playing with the violinist. I think other kids my age should discover him. There’s not just pop music in the world.”