You nailed it right there; read my mind. Vai is just too sterile sounding & feeling for my taste.Vai impressed me at first, but his music lacks feeling or something. Did you get to see him with Mike Mangini and Tony Levin ? That must have been pretty good. But in that league of guitarists he doesn't make my top 20.I have seen Steve on several occasions, even once in Deep Ellum @ Trees (first place I saw EJ play) but I much prefer & enjoy Andy's playing, especially live.If Steve Vai says he's a badass I'll take your word for it too.I resided in Dallas (1987 - 2001) and saw Andy Timmons play nearly every week, for years, at Blue Cat Blues in Deep Ellum.
Andy is a MONSTER guitarist & a really nice guy to boot.
One of my Andy favorites ..............
Live performance is where it's at IMO. Listening to a record, a recording, whatever is one thing but a live performance is where you can really find out what a musician is really about.
Take EJ for example: I saw him play live 14 times in the space of 29 months, and his performances will always be a bit different, as with most guitarist.
Also, IMO he plays at his best level when he is playing in Austin. I have seen EJ burn down Antone's a few times. LOL
Didn't see Vai with Levin/Mangini; bet that was a blast.
Not really my cup-O-tea but this take by Andy is an amazing demonstration of Andy's ability to combine different facets of a song in one performance.