Steve Vai Delivers 'Surreal' Night of Guitar Heroics

Steve Vai Delivers 'Surreal' Night of Guitar Heroics

Hundreds from all over the country and beyond swarmed to the Nerve Centre ahead of an intimate master class with revered guitar hero Steve Vai. For six-string advocates this sold-out workshop was the event of the summer.
 
The venue was wall-to-wall with generations of fretboard fanatics, many of whom had come prepared with their own trusty axes in the hope of kicking out a few jams with an icon of the instrument and for an incredibly lucky few those dreams were made.
 
'It's really nice to be here,' said the American virtuoso following a rousing opening number, an introductory sample of his ludicrous natural ability. 'It's my first time this far north in Ireland. I came to a good place, huh?' 
 
As roars of approval filled the room there was no doubt that Vai was right at home among his Maiden City disciples. 'I always enjoy doing this because everybody here is a lover of the guitar. And rightfully so, it's the best instrument in the world.'
 

An almost unclassifiable occasion, the night would go on to feature a mishmash of insightful discussion, compelling anecdotes and the sort of tips on playing and the music industry you couldn't put a price on.
 
Taking the time to bring everybody up to speed on his beginnings as a guitar player, Vai recalled early lessons from fellow maven Joe Satriani who had him composing pieces for the school orchestra in his early teens and by the mere age of 20 he'd wound up in Frank Zappa's band.
 
Though his admittedly elaborate responses to questions from the audience seemed to take us on many detours, they were what led Vai onto some of the most fascinating tales of the night. He raved about early episodes in his career such as when Brian May lent him his one of a kind guitar and his pal 'Edward' Van Halen schooling him in his own living room – with Vai's own custom-designed Ibanez Gem.
 
He also touched on his short-lived venture into film after a guitar duel scene in Crossroads from 1986 and why the acting life isn't for him -'When you're on stage there's no 'cut' – and found time to take song requests which he dutifully obliged with a Mac-assisted backing track.
 
It wasn't all tech chat though, as his key-note-like address evidenced his support for independent and underprivileged aspiring musicians, especially for those in Derry~Londonderry. 'I think what you're doing here is vital and beautiful,' he said of the Music Promise programme, which aims to provide free music tuition for young people in the city. 
 
'Music is a birthright' the lord of licks concluded before, in a move akin to John Bonham letting you have a go on his drum kit, electing a lucky handful to join him for an on stage shred-off. Among them was Michael McCarron, who was outside the Nerve Centre from sunrise the day tickets were first released. 'It was an unbelievable experience to share the stage with the god that is Steve Vai,', he beamed. 'Surreal'.
 
For more upcoming gigs and events check out the Nerve Centre's What's On section.
Location map