Our world is blessed with amazing guitarists. Some are shredders, some are soloists, some are masters. A handful, a very small handful, are artisans. Touring in support of his 10th studio album, Steve Vai demonstrates his artisan qualities in a mesmerizing 2.5 hour show for the capacity crowd.
Limited to the first 3, I was excited to cover the acclaimed guitarist and pleased with the venue selection for the tour stop here. The venue employs some of the best house lighting in Atlanta and coupled with newly upgraded dual follow-spots and an accommodating pit I was certain in my future capture of epic photos. Then the challenges began. The pit was split in the center with a large “road case” for lack of a better term serving the sole purpose of supporting one of the numerous stage monitors. This made passage left to right across the front of the stage an impossibility. Therefore, given Steve’s a right handed player I chose a house left shooting position. With the GA floor being full, it takes a good 1-2 minutes to cross around the outer edge of the house floor so I reserved this trip for the very end of the set. Most annoying was touring productions heavy use of low-end LED lighting vs the house lighting. They scream of cheap and serve no purpose other than to cast washes of completely flat color without the slightest hint of contrast or color balance across and otherwise great stage (the reason all but a handful of images give no depth to the artist). Quite frankly, they even look awful from a crowd perspective simply as a fan in which the artist appears to be playing behind frosted glass. I was in hopes the follow-spots of which two were in operation would all but eliminate this, however the follow-spot operators choose to blend with the false LED color washes rather than over power them and highlight the artist as they should by about 1 stop.