Steve Vai rocks up to Mexico gig to find street performer playing For the Love of God… on two guitars

Steve Vai watching street performer Rafael Flores
(Image credit: Steve Vai/Instagram)

Steve Vai is currently in the midst of his Inviolate tour, which recently took him to Mexico City – where he was met with a very warm welcome when he arrived at the Teatro Metropólitan for his show on Wednesday (June 21).

That greeting took the form of a talented street performer, who serenaded the Hydra master upon his arrival at the venue with a rendition of his 1990 Passion and Warfare classic, For the Love of God.

But here’s the twist: he played it using two electric guitars.

Wielding two custom builds crafted by Ortiz Murcio, the performer – whose name is Rafael Flores – made light work of both the accompaniment and upper register melody at the same time, using his left hand to fret out chords and arpeggios on one guitar, while his right hand busies itself with the lead on the other.

Playing For the Love of God is tricky even with just one guitar, but to navigate the song with two slung over your shoulder is quite the achievement. Oh, and the fact he was able to keep his composure in the presence of Vai and pull off the spellbinding arrangement makes the whole performance that bit more impressive.

Unsurprisingly, Vai was so impressed by Flores’ efforts that he took to social media soon after the gig to praise the two-hand tapping wizard.

“Mexico City, I arrived at the venue and this wonderful man was creatively navigating two guitars and performing his lovely rendition of For the Love of God,” Vai wrote. “Thank you Mexico City for an absolutely outstanding and memorable evening.”

Flores, clearly a keen follower of Vai on Instagram, commented on the post, revealing the arrangement took him three years to complete.

“Steve, thank you so much!” Flores wrote. “I worked three years on this arrangement. And sharing it with you is a dream come true.”

Flores’ For the Love of God arrangement can be traced back to 2020, when he uploaded a video of himself performing the track using a dual Washburn setup onto his YouTube channel. 

The guitarist also posts regularly on his aptly named Instagram page, rafaelflorestapping, where he further flexes his dual fretboard two-hand tapping prowess.

Of course, For the Love of God made it onto Vai’s setlist that evening, cropping up at the end of the first main set after the Ibanez signature artist had made his way through Zeus in Chains, Teeth of the Hydra – performed with the Hydra, naturally – and Liberty.

Vai also returned after For the Love of God for the gig’s encore – a performance of Fire Garden’s final suite, Taurus Bulba.

To see Vai's upcoming tour dates, head over to his website.

Owing to their need to capture bypassers' attention, buskers and street performers are some of the most skilled and imaginative players out there. Borja Catanesi, for example, continuously takes the wireless system to new heights with his viral street performances, while busker Damian Salazar offered one of 2022's best shred performances.

A young busker also received praise from Metallica themselves following a viral cover of Master of Puppets.

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Matt Owen

Matt is a Staff Writer, writing for Guitar World, Guitarist and Total Guitar. He has a Masters in the guitar, a degree in history, and has spent the last 16 years playing everything from blues and jazz to indie and pop. When he’s not combining his passion for writing and music during his day job, Matt records for a number of UK-based bands and songwriters as a session musician.