Sunday night Steve Vai’s Generation Axe Tour rolled into middle America and took over the historic Hoyt Sherman Place in Des Moines Iowa. This small, beautiful venue was full of contrast. For example, in the ‘bar’ there were massive old oil paintings right next to the tour’s Merch table.
This tour is composed of 5 great guitarists with some very different styles. Tosin Abasi , Nuno Bettencourt, Zakk Wylde, Steve Vai, Yngwei Malmsteen were the performers and had the crowd mesmerized from the first notes of the opening song, Edgar’s Winter’s Frankenstein which consisted of all 5 artists performing together, until the very last note of thousands played.
It was a very interesting lineup and the show moved without any stops. Each individual set ended with a song with the current performer as well as the next performer playing. It is not very often you get to see this many great artists performing in one show. I am not sure if this was just luck or the promoters/tour manager planned for this but my seat was an aisle seat right next to a big white X taped on the floor. This happened to be the spot where Zakk Wylde would come into the crowd and stand to play. The crowd really loves when he does this and he doesn’t seem to miss a note. His security and the house security was nice enough to let me maneuver in so I could get some really tight shots. I’m still amazed he can play those scorching solos while walking, climbing over seats in the theater, straddling the balcony railings.
Most of the performances were pretty straight on , non-stop guitar madness with the exception of Extreme guitarist Nuno Bettencourt who actually talked to the crowd a fair amount. Vai was amazing with his smoothness and of course speed and using his whammy bar in ways I had never seen before. Bringing the show to a classical conclusion was Yngwei Malmsteen who showed why he is considered one of the greats. While being washed in red lights he mixed in many foot kicks, pick punts and tosses with the sweep picking and fret board assault everyone has come to expect from him.
At the time of this posting there are 21 shows left on the tour. If you are a rock guitar lover you need to see this show.
Photos and Review by Mike McMillen