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Album Reviews : Steve Vai – Where The Wild Things Are

By on November 14, 2009


Solo guitarists aren’t my thing. I’m not a musician of any sort, nor a particularly large fan of fretboard wankery music. If someone can’t write music, fiddling around with scales and time signatures, and randomly running up and down the neck doesn’t do a thing. Now, that cancels out most solo metal and rock guitarists, but not Steve Vai. Well, for the most part anyway.

‘Where The Wild Things Are’ is Vai’s latest release, comprising of almost 80 minutes of live music recorded at the State Theatre in Minneapolis two years ago. 80 minutes is a long time to keep anybody’s attention, and that’s the main problem. Despite the fact that the tracks in the later half are just as good, if not better, than the first half, I just can’t get that far without a break. Of course, die-hard Vai fans won’t have a problem, but casual fans might. What you could do, theoretically, is just cut out the tracks you enjoy least and you would probably end up with a normal length album. For me, the 8 minute “Building the Church” and 11 minute “Freak Show Excess” would be straight in the bin. They’re exactly the type of tracks I was referring to in my opening sentences. Tracks like “Die To Live” and the fantastic “Tender Surrender” show his blues-focused side which is where his feeling and groove really comes out. “Gary 7”, “Par Brahm” and “Treasure Island” are newies that all border on world music with interesting acoustic guitars and tribal drums. Great tracks in their own right, but would’ve been a welcome break a bit earlier in the setlist.

As expected, Vai’s performance is flawless. He pulls of each track with apparent ease, and his backing band are just as impressive. The dual keyboardists and violinists are spectacular, and I really couldn’t imagine it without them. The way they dance around the guitars in “Angel Flood” is truly memorable. On top of that, the mix is spot-on.

A lot you will have a love/hate relationship here. Unless you’re already a big Vai fan already, you’re definitely going to find this release drags on in places. Which style of music it is that’s dragging on will be dependent on your tastes, but chances are there will be one. Ignoring the length, this is a fantastic live album. The performances are spot on and the band sound generally enthusiastic which is what most live performances come down to. If you’re that much of a fan that this isn’t enough, you’re in luck! There’s also a DVD version of the concert available, with an extra 14 tracks. For me, listening to the audio version in halves will do. 7/10

Band: Steve Vai
Album: Where The Wild Things Are
Year: 2009
Genre: Guitar virtuoso/Rock
Label: Favored Nations/Riot! Entertainment
Origin: USA

Track listing:
1. Paint Me Your Face
2. Now We Run
3. Oooo
4. Building the Church
5. Tender Surrender
6. Band intros
7. Fire Wall
8. Freak Show Excess
9. Die to Live
10. All About Eve
11. Gary 7
12. Treasure Island
13.  Angel Flood <- Reviewers choice
14. Taurus Bulba
15. Par Brahm


Mitch Booth is the owner, designer and grand overlord of Metal Obsession. In the few seconds of spare time he has outside of this site, he also hosts a metal radio show over on PBS 106.7fm in Melbourne (Australia) and organises shows under the name Untitled Touring. You should follow him on Twitter.