Guitar wizard Steve Vai and his great three piece band played an amazing set that tickled the senses Tuesday night at the Hard Rock Rocksino.

Vai is out celebrating the 25th anniversary of his landmark album Passion and Warfare and he is playing the album in its entirety.  

At the start of the show, Vai walked out on darkened stage dressed in a silver hoodie jacket with yellow glow-in-the-dark paint splattered on it.  He wore glow-in-the-dark goggles with two red lasers on top that looked like his eyes were scanning the audience, a la The Terminator.

The fretboard for this particular guitar was lit up with blue lights which added to the overall space age effect while he played “Bad Horsie.”

Three other songs were played before he took a break to speak to the audience.  Steve said that he never got the opportunity to tour with Passion and Warfare because the idea of him standing on stage and just playing instrumental music was something that just wasn’t done in those days.

He said even though there is a lot going on in the world right now, tonight we were going to forget about everything for a few hours and just enjoy the music.  He said “We have the right night, the right crowd, and the right band to play the right album!”  With that, they launched into “Liberty” the first track from Passion and Warfare.  This song featured video footage of he and Brian May from Queen playing the song together from a concert in 1991.

Video footage of other guitarists was something that was used to great effect throughout the show.

“The Riddle” featured a dueling solo between Vai and his former teacher Joe Satriani via video.

Vai is a very animated guitarists and he keeps the audience engaged as he dances and slithers across the stage while emitting incredible sounds from his guitar.  His backing band are amazing musicians in their own right and they include long time members: Dave Weiner on guitar, Jeremy Colson on drums and Philip Bynoe on base.

Another great “video duet” featured John Petrucci.  This one was kind of ironic because Petrucci and his band Dream Theater happened to be in Cleveland on the same night but at a different venue.

The one thing with having all of this technology is that sometimes there may be glitches.  A  minute or so into “The Audience is Listening” the band was out of sync with the video so Steve stopped the video replayed from the top.  After that, there was not another glitch for the rest of the show.

The highlight of the evening was the beautiful “For the Love of God.”  Considered his masterpiece by many, the song soared as each note was played perfectly.

“Love Secrets” ended the “Passion” portion of the show but Mr. Vai and company had one more surprise for the audience.  He said a retrospective couldn’t be complete without Frank Zappa, the man who gave Vai his first break.  Video footage was played of Zappa playing with the twenty year old guitar prodigy as the band played “Stevie’s Spanking.”

Steve was correct.  It was the right night, with the right crowd, playing with the right band.  And to cap it off, the Indians won game one of the World Series.  Does it get any better than that?