Steve Vai - Where The Wild Things Are [CD] (Favored Nations/Riot)

Let guitar legend Steve Vai and his String Theories band take you on a live musical journey that enlightens and also suprises your aural senses!

For people who know of Steve Vai, there are normally two classifications people label him under - A) As a shredder guitarist who just wildly plays all over the place or B) As a talented musician/composer & songwriter. Having recorded a plethora of material over the years, choosing a set for a live album would be hard to cover all the bases and keep all of the fans happy. However, with his latest live offering Where The Wild Things Are, Steve and his String Theories band deliver a blistering yet ecletic peformance that is sure to please the listeners' aural senses.

Recorded in September 2007 at The State Theatre in Minneapolis, Minnesota USA, Where The Wild Things Are captures a 13-track selection of the 27-track set that was performed that evening. If you think this is just a pure live rock record, and it is in some ways, it still has the traditional guitar, bass and drums but with the additional textures of keyboards and violins; making it quite a spectacle to listen to without coming across as pretentious and wanky.

Where The Wild Things Are's 77-minute setlist covers a little bit of everything from Steve's back catalogue, but with a fresher perspective. Some stand out cuts include the high energy Now We Run, the delicate touch of Tender Surrender & Die To Live, the groovy, funk-laden Firewall, the technical showcases of Building The Church and Freak Show Excess and, to top it off, the beautiful acoustic ballad in All About Eve, which also showcases off Steve's singing voice.

There are also some new compositions especially played for Where The Wild Things Are and they sit well alongside the classic material. Pieces like Gary 7 and Treasure Island have a world music-type of vibe, where Taurus Bulba and Par Brahm are classic Vai electrical pieces mixing skill with melody.

The band, String Theories, is compromised of a group of world class musicians who play excellently and complement Steve to the highest degree. But, honestly, did you think a band backing Steve Vai would be sloppy and unprepared? The rhythm section of bassist Bryan Beller, drummer Jeremy Colson and rhythm guitarist Dave Weiner are machine-like precise and keep the ball rolling along smoothly. But the most interesting and exciting addition is the duo of keyboardists/violinists Alex DePue and Ann Marie Calhoun; their violin lines complement Steve's fluid fretwork and at times harmonise perfectly with Steve when he is off soloing away. Lap steel guitarist Zack Weisinger adds an interesting element to the acoustic portions as well. Vai himself is just mind blowing and plays as if this was his last day on earth, with no boundaries or restrictions. Just isten to the introduction of Building A Church and you will see what I mean.

Being a live album, you would normally think there would be inconsistencies, but everything sounds great: every instrument has its place within the mix and it all sits nicely together . It is also quite refreshing to hear the crowd; you can feel the enthusiasm and the vibe by just listening.

It was hard to find flaws in Where The Wild Things Are. For a casual listener, it may tend to drag on a bit, but someone with an open mind, and dedicated Vai fans, will really enjoy this. It gives the older material a new spin while also displaying some of the newer ideas that are inside Steve Vai's head and what could be coming up in the future.

The CD version of Where The Wild Things Are is only a taste of what came from this concert. It is a companion piece to the DVD which has another 14 tracks. However, the CD still has enough quality material to stand on its own feet, and is perfect to chuck on the iPod or in the car.

Steve Vai's Where The Wild Things Are is out now on Favored Nations/Riot. Buy it here!