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Progressive Rock CD Reviews

Portnoy, Sheehan, MacAlpine and Sherinian

Live in Tokyo

Review by Gary Hill

When I got this disc I was really looking forward to it. I mean, with a list of names like that how could you go wrong?

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2013  Volume 5 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Disc 1
A Change Of Seasons: I. The Crimson Sunrise
They lead things off with this dramatic Dream Theater piece. It’s dramatic, powerful and heavy. It’s also a great way to start the set in style. I love this rendition. They shift and twist and groove. They basically segue it into the next number.
Acid Rain
Killer fusion guitar sounds are the main emphasis here. We’re taken through a number of twists and turns here with the guitar pretty much soloing over the whole thing. This is a screamer, but it’s not got the drama and variety of the opener. It’s a little one-sided to me. Yes, it has some great guitar soloing. You can’t really say much else about it.
The Stranger
This screamer is almost heavy metal. It’s far more effective than the previous tune. That’s because it feels more like a group effort than it does a guitar solo showcase. This has a lot of classical music built into it and is a great number.
Stratus
This massive jam has more of that Dream Theater-like vibe, but overall lands as a fusion groove.
Apocalypse 1470 B.C.
There is some serious drama as this opens. Then it fires out into one of the coolest fusion sounds we’ve heard thus far. The cut evolves from there in a seemingly endless morphing and shifting piece. It has some incredibly dramatic moments that feel like space rock interconnected with some more freeform movements. This is much more of an ensemble piece than some of the others. It’s also a much more dynamic piece. At times it’s heavier, at times it’s more melodic. They drop it back later to a rhythmic section with the audience helping.
Tony MacAlpine Guitar Solo
Interestingly enough, this guitar solo seems to be more diverse and less “let’s hear the guitar” like than some of the actual songs here. It pursues melody and does a great job of merging fusion and classical sounds with rock guitar.
Been Here Before
As this gradually emerges, it feels a lot like a continuation of the guitar solo. Layers of sound are added to the guitar soloing, but overall that carries it for the first minute or so. Then it shifts out to a more fusion “song” oriented sound to continue.
Disc 2
Birds Of Prey (Billy's Boogie)/Billy Sheehan Bass Solo
They open up here with some killer fusion. Then Billy Sheehan’s bass takes it out in a great solo. I’m not often a fan of bass solos, and I am a bass player, but this one is well worth checking out. Sheehan makes that baby sing.
The Farandole
This one really rocks. It comes out of the previous one and has a lot of classical music built into it.
The Pump
A slower fusion groove is heard here. We get more of an ensemble piece here with various members getting to really shine.
Mike Portnoy Drum Intro/Nightmare Cinema
As the title suggests, Mike Portnoy gets a drum solo at the start of this. Then they fire out into some smoking hot progressive rock from there.
Hell's Kitchen
Although this one still has some definite ensemble aspects, it does fall closer to the guitar hero aspect of some of the other music.
Derek Sherinian Keyboard Solo
As advertised, Derek Sherinian gets a great keyboard solo here.
Lines in the Sand
Coming out of the keyboard solo, this is another fusion number with the real emphasis on the guitar soloing.
Shy Boy
A hard rocker, this one has lyrics. It’s not the most proggy thing here, but it’s also far from a guitar showcase. It’s a good slab of variety and a decent tune. They do turn it out into a smoking hot fusion jam later in the piece. There’s an extended bit of audience reaction/talking to the crowd at the end. While that made sense at the gig and most likely on the DVD, I don’t really see the wisdom in leaving it here.

 

 
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