Fri, Jul 30, 2004 - Page 18 News List

`Little Italian virtuoso' Vai touches down

By Meredith Dodge  /  STAFF REPORTER

For true rock fans around Taiwan who are tired of the cheesy soft rock and pop that blare from every street corner and alley, there's relief around the corner this weekend.

On Sunday, Steve Vai, the legendary hard rock guitarist will arrive in Taiwan for his third visit to the country. He will perform at the Taipei International Convention Center at 7:30pm.

The solo recording artist has worldwide sales of more than 2.7 million and he has played with luminaries such as Frank Zappa, David Lee Roth and Whitesnake, as well picking up two Grammy awards and a slew of other honors from around the world. His upcoming album, Real Illusions, is due out in February next year.

The musician Frank Zappa once dubbed "my little Italian virtuoso" has enjoyed popularity all over the world, and Taiwan is no exception. Fan Charlie Lee (李宥魴) describes Vai as both mysterious and noble, like a magician who can be both righteous and evil.

"I purely like his music -- his guitar can really grab your heart," said Gina, another Vai fan.

From his first solo album Flex-Able to his recent Alive in an Ultra World -- which incorporates unique sounds from numerous countries -- Vai has always aspired to produce a sound that's different from other rock gods.

One of Vai's finest moments was in July 2002, when he performed renowned Japanese composer Ichiro Nodaira's Fire Strings with the Tokyo Metropolitan Symphony Orchestra.

Accompanying Steve will be a handpicked lineup of outsanding musicians, including famed bass guitarist Billy Sheehan along with Tony MacAlpine on guitar and keyboards, Dave Weiner on rhythm guitar and Jeremy Colson on drums.

Steve will be rocking out on his guitar, dubbed "Evo, "with a list of mainly instrumentals, including the classic Whispering a Prayer.

Last night, Rock Empire said 2,900 out of 3,000 tickets had been sold already. The remaining tickets, priced from NT$1,000 to NT$2,200 may be purchased online at www.rockempire.com.tw or by phone at (02) 2723 2535. The doors open at 6:30pm.

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