About Steve Vai, I don't really like his music. At least the songs of his that are featured on the 'G3 - Live in Tokyo' dvd (John Petrucci, Steve Vai, Joe Satriani).
The usual misconception, Tom. Most people who know about Steve Vai don't know more about him than his participation in G3. Does anyone judge JP solely on the basis of his
G3 feats? No, in any case noone who knows how fantastic Dream Theater are.
Though Vai probably earned a lot of money doing the G3 tour, it has given him an unfortunate reputation among many proggies of being nothing more than a guitar acrobat, which is a damned pity, because this guy is extremely talented, not only as a guitarist, but also as composer, keyboard player and singer.
Vai's albums "Fire Garden", "Real Illusions: Reflections", "The Ultra Zone", and "Passion and Warfare" are masterpieces, musically as great as the albums of Redemption, and Vai's lyrics are better than Nick van Dyk's (more metaphysical).
OK, he likes putting on a show at his concerts, which in his case is fine, because it doesn't at all detract from the music and adds to the entertainment. I experienced him live in Copenhagen last year, and that was a tremendous concert.
Re Stride, twice I've placed a link in the Room to an excellent sample, namely a video of their song Imagine (not John Lennon's). Their album Imagine is a treat for any heavy proggie.