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Steve Vai's Generation Axe at the Fillmore, 5 Things to Know
 

By Gary Graff
ggraff@digitalfirstmedia.com, @GraffonMusic on Twi

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Steve Vai has always played well with others -- including the late Frank Zappa, David Lee Roth and Whitesnake since the mid-70s.



With Generation Axe, he's making sure others are playing nicely with him.



The tour, in its second North American incarnation, features Vai, 58, with fellow six-string virtuosos Yngwie Malmsteen, Zakk Wylde (Ozzy Osbourne, Black Label Society), Nuno Bettencourt (Extreme, Rihanna) and Tosin Abasi (Animals As Leaders), playing together and apart and presenting "a different kind of way to enjoy the electric rock guitar." The troupe recorded an album of the show during an Asian tour that he hopes to release next year, and now Vai has brought it back home -- where it's among several endeavors he currently has on his plate...



* Vai says by phone that he and the other Generation Axers "just love doing" the show. "It's like a cakewalk. These guys are all completely accomplished and they've been pounding the pavement for decades. You go through your career with a band or other people and there's challenges and there's glories, and at some point you just want to have a good time and settle into being in your craft. And this tour is a perfect opportunity to do that."



* The three-time Grammy Award winner adds that Generation Axe is about collaboration more than competition. "You don't compete with these guys. You do your best, and they raise your bar. The really cool part of this is when we're on stage and we come together harmonious with what we're playing. You get five glorious electric rock guitars singing these melodies in five-part harmony...There's no feeling like it when you're standing next to these mountains, these other guys, playing with them. It's an experience you just haven't seen -- or I don't suspect so because I've never seen it before this. And I think we pull it off beautifully."



* Vai plans to "go off the grid" early in the new year to begin work on his next solo album, the follow-up to 2016's "Modern Primitive." "I'm just going to hunker down to create. My focus is going to be to make the best guitar record I've made, because a lot of my music is very orchestrated and over-produced at times -- I can't help it. But my idea for this next record is more broken down into a trio format, and more straightforward and focused on guitar."



* Next year Vai will also release a second album of solo piano recordings of his songs, and he'll be recording several of his orchestral scores with European orchestras. "I challenge my fans. It (angers) some of them, but I can't help it. It's just what I do. At this point in life you just do what you want. So a newcomer to my music would have to spend some quality time digging into it to get who I am. It's a little more work for somebody to get into the depth of what I do, but I have to say if it resonates with you, it's a treasure."



* Vai has voiced support for plans for a touring Frank Zappa hologram, which is being spearheaded by his son Ahmet Zappa. He's even promised to make a few guest appearances at whatever point it goes on the road. "After talking to Ahmet quite a bit about what he's planning, it's going to be pretty extraordinary and quite the surprise because it seems like he's evolving the technology. So I think that to have any kind of preconceived idea of what it's going to be and copping an attitude about it would be selling yourself short of having a really great experience of just being in an environment where you get to experience something Frank. Obviously he's not going to be there, but you get the impression. You get the spirit, in a sense."



Generation Axe, featuring Steve Vai, Yngwie Malmsteen, Zakk Wylde, Nuno Bettencourt and Tosin Abasi plays Wednesday, Nov. 21 at the Fillmore Detroit, 2115 Woodward Ave. Doors at 6:30 p.m. $25-$99.50. 313-961-5451 or thefillmoredetroit.com.

Web Site: www.thefillmoredetroit.com

Send your thoughts and comments to Gary Graff

 



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