Steve Vai / A Evening of Guitar Virtuosity in New Brunswick 

It is Thursday, August 3rd, a warm summer evening in beautiful Atlantic Canada, Steve Vai plays The Imperial Theatre in Saint John, New Brunswick. His name is lit up across the marquee of the venue, as a range of young and old fans filed into the beautiful theatre. This being his first time in the province, fans excitedly awaited the maestro.

Steve Vai – Inviolate Tour

The Imperial Theatre, Saint John, New Brunswick – 3 August 2023

Words and Photography: Taylor Cameron

Steve Vai - The Imperial Theatre, Saint John, New Brunswick - 3 August 2023.
Steve Vai – The Imperial Theatre, Saint John, New Brunswick – 3 August 2023. Photo: Taylor Cameron/MetalTalk

The lights dim promptly at 8 pm, as Steve Vai and his band of exceptional musicians take the stage. Known for his unique melodic playing style, Vai has the crowd captivated within seconds of commanding the stage. His fingers dance across the fretboard of his Ibanez guitar as they opened the set with Avalancha, a track from his 2022 release, Inviolate.

Steve Vai - The Imperial Theatre, Saint John, New Brunswick - 3 August 2023.
Steve Vai – The Imperial Theatre, Saint John, New Brunswick – 3 August 2023. Photo: Taylor Cameron/MetalTalk

Mesmerized by the pure talent that Vai encapsulates, a pin drop could be heard throughout the audience as they watched in pure awe. Everyone sitting is something I’m not familiar with when attending a rock show.

“Let me introduce the band,” Vai smiles as he takes the mic. “We have Philip Bynoe on bass, he has perfect pitch. If I knock on my head he can tell me what key it is. D-Diminished.” The crowd laughs.”

Steve Vai - The Imperial Theatre, Saint John, New Brunswick - 3 August 2023.
Steve Vai – The Imperial Theatre, Saint John, New Brunswick – 3 August 2023. Photo: Taylor Cameron/MetalTalk

“Then we have the animal on drums, Jeremy Colson and Dante Frisiello on guitar.” The crowd cheers. “It’s nice having some young blood on the tour. When women see Dante they just have to say hi to him and they get pregnant,” Vai jokes.

“Alright, show them your secret weapon,” Vai says to Frisiello. Pulling up his shirt sleeve as Colson did a drumroll, Frisiello shows off his muscular bicep.

Steve Vai - The Imperial Theatre, Saint John, New Brunswick - 3 August 2023.
Steve Vai – The Imperial Theatre, Saint John, New Brunswick – 3 August 2023. Photo: Taylor Cameron/MetalTalk

Getting back to their regular scheduled program, the band continued to work through Vai’s diverse catalogue of music, including the iconic piece from his appearance in Crossroads, as he played an array of Ibanez guitars.

Voted the 10th greatest guitarist of all time by Guitar World Magazine, Vai’s abilities on the guitar are otherworldly. Although it may be a Steve Vai show, each member of his band was given a solo section to wow the crowd. Having strong unique players joining him on tour, the crowd cheered loudly for each member.

Steve Vai - The Imperial Theatre, Saint John, New Brunswick - 3 August 2023.
Steve Vai – The Imperial Theatre, Saint John, New Brunswick – 3 August 2023. Photo: Taylor Cameron/MetalTalk

Taking the mic once again, Vai talks about being on tour since May 2023. “When you’re on the road for so long on a tour bus,” he says, “there’s no secrets. You know everything about everyone.

“Our sound engineer is not only a great engineer, but also a great guitar player, an actor, an MMA fighter, a cook, as well as a great opera singer. I’d like to introduce Danny G on vocals for this next one” Vai says, before kicking into a riveting version of For The Love Of God that had the crowd on their feet for a standing ovation.

Steve Vai - The Imperial Theatre, Saint John, New Brunswick - 3 August 2023.
Steve Vai – The Imperial Theatre, Saint John, New Brunswick – 3 August 2023. Photo: Taylor Cameron/MetalTalk

Closing out the set with Fire Garden Suite IV – Taurus Bulb, the crowd remained standing as they cheered on the guitar virtuoso. Halfway through the song, Vai makes his way into the crowd, fans beaming with joy as they get an up-close view of the guitar master.

Letting fans touch his guitar and have a turn at wiggling the tremolo bar on his white gem Ibanez, he continued to play with ease. Stopping midway through the aisle, Vai signals for me to step towards him as he takes off his guitar, placing it on me.

“Put your hands behind your back,” Vai says, as he wrapped his arms around me and continued to play the guitar, giving it the look that I was playing. “Wow you’re really good,” he joked.

Steve Vai - The Imperial Theatre, Saint John, New Brunswick - 3 August 2023.
Steve Vai – The Imperial Theatre, Saint John, New Brunswick – 3 August 2023. Photo: Taylor Cameron/MetalTalk

Taking his guitar back, he smiled and patted me on the back before making his way back to the stage. I watched the rest of the song in complete shock at what had just happened. Vai absolutely made my entire night.

As the song came to an end, the band stepped forward and took a bow, the audience erupting into roars of cheers. Playing for almost two and a half hours, Vai and his extraordinary band left everyone in complete awe, putting on a show that was unforgettable.

Steve Vai plays Toronto tonight. For full tickets and details of the rest of the tour, visit https://www.vai.com/tourdates.

Steve Vai - The Imperial Theatre, Saint John, New Brunswick - 3 August 2023.
Steve Vai – The Imperial Theatre, Saint John, New Brunswick – 3 August 2023. Photo: Taylor Cameron/MetalTalk

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