When I took a look around inside the Fillmore Charlotte venue, all I saw were Dead-heads and men in their mid-50’s with Pink Floyd, Van Halen or Zappa shirts on. There were definitely guitar-lovers of all ages there, but a majority of the audience were old souls.
The night started with a talented opening act, Beverly McClellen. You might recognize her as “the bald girl” from the NBC show, The Voice. That’s how she referred to herself once on stage, but to many, she is so much more than that.
She has an incredible soulful but rock ‘n’ roll kind of voice that is super easy on the ears. Not only does she have a great voice but she has some amazing skills on the guitar and keyboard.
She has a great sense of humor and in the transition between songs that it seemed like she was doing stand up comedy. The crowd seemed to really like her cover of various songs, one of which was “Drift Away.”
Steve Vai, the legendary Grammy-winning guitarist, made his entrance onto the stage with lots of smoke fumes and lights. Kind of in a cheesy, 80’s rockstar way but with his kind of talent, he could have came on stage in a bunny costume and no one would have cared.
His fingers glide so beautifully along the fingerboard; he makes it look too easy. Women in their 40’s surrounding me were screaming like little girls that had just seen Justin Bieber.
The facial expressions Vai makes along with his playing is what makes his performance so mesmerizing.Vai mouth is shaped like he is screaming when he is playing a high note or when the melody is fast. He is also a charmer with his eyes, in an almost flirtatious way to the audience.
Charlotte was Vai’s fifth stop in his G3 tour and he mentioned it was his first whole length solo show in 5 years.
“Why did I wait so long? I don’t know,” Vai mentioned. “Let’s build a church in here tonight!”
He was switching guitars left and right between song transitions and he had about 10 on stage with him. He played some new stuff from his new album, “The Story of Light,” with songs like “Weeping China Doll.”
Not only is Vai the sickest guitarist I’ve ever seen live, he is also a great guy.
He told the audience, “Everyone always asks where I get the inspiration for songs. I don’t know it just comes. So who’d like to help me write a song right now?”
He pointed to a little boy in the front and asked if he wanted to come on stage and the boy did. He asked the little boy, Matthew, to give him a drum beat.
“I don’t know” was his answer. He made a beat out of the answer. After getting the responses “South Carolina” and “45 minutes” for where he was from and how long it took him to get here tonight, he made beats for the bass and melody with the answers.
After instructing his band what notes to play and when to play, a song was developed that soon rocked the house. It was a huge hit with the audience and I think we all fell in love with him (if we weren’t already) after that.
If Steve Vai was unable to speak, he would still be able to easily communicate with anyone and everyone just from playing his guitar. It literally speaks to you. Vai without a doubt the best of the best when it comes to experimental rock.