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Progressive Rock Concert Reviews

Transatlantic

Live in St. Charles, Illinois, February 2014

Review by Josh Turner

Transatlantic covered all the albums and spread their material evenly throughout the night. There was neither an emphasis on ballads nor epics. So that the longer songs didn’t monopolize the whole show, they abbreviated bits and excluded entire sections as a means to fit their expansive pieces in.
As their latest work, Kaleidoscope, had just hit the streets, they made sure to draw an umlaut on the new album; diving headfirst into that unfamiliar territory with its opening track, “Into the Blue.” This also gave them a chance to introduce a new friend, Ted Leonard, of Enchant, who was now the lead singer of Spock’s Beard. Early on, he enjoyed a solo. After that, he stepped out of the way and lingered in the back, adding keys and backing canto on an as-needed basis. This was originally a role intended for Daniel Gildenlöw from Pain of Salvation.

As for the fresh selection, it had all the length and structure that defines a Transatlantic song. However, it’s less subdued and dreamy than their usual fare. For those unfamiliar with the new material, its hard-hitting action may come as a shocker. Recently ripped from its wrapper, they toiled with their new toy as the instruction manual laid latently intact. Upon its completion, they were still a tweak or two away from being warmed up.


Josh Turner
 
Greg Olma
   

After what was both new and blue, they borrowed from the old in a psychedelic cut called “My New World.” In contrast to the evening’s icebreaker, it was clear that this was exhaustively rehearsed and by the time they jabbed its midsection, the soundboards were finally dialed up just right.

As the clock ran past the 40 minute marker, it became evident that the feeling out process was now over. It was time for a meditative breather, and it came in the form of something short and pretty named “Shine.” This pensive paean has simple words and notions that make it easy to digest. It was a pleasant refrain from the sugar rush experienced by the audience in those two opulent appetizers.


Josh Turner
 
Greg Olma
   

As a side note, Mike Portnoy earlier stated that they may only get through five songs, and while he may have been joking, it seemed as if his estimates weren’t too far off. Pretty much repeating the formula, they continued to dose concertgoers with a tall glass of bombastic bliss followed by one or two tiny chasers.

Adhering to the recipe, a small batch of “Whirlwind” was whipped up. Rather than the hour long magnum opus, they carved out a few of its superfluous parts. The surgery was a success as the absent organs didn’t affect its flow in the slightest. And while the song is supposed to be light and airy, this version was served with an extra portion of heavy-handedness, which met the approval of the hard rockers and head-bangers in attendance.


Josh Turner
 
Greg Olma
   

As for what this monster work covered, the abridged edition focused on “Rose-colored Glasses” and an ardent instrumental named “Dancing with Eternal Glory.” One could argue that the latter epitomized the tumultuous typhoon referenced in its title. Back to the debut, they gave a competent rendition of “We All Need Some Light.” Then expeditiously onto the present, they showered spectators with “Black As the Sky.”

Before the encore, the confident flock spread their feathers: the title track from Kaleidoscope in all its unadulterated glory. Like peacocks, they proudly paraded their colorful quills. Taking their time, they swaggered through all seven of its rich layers, slathering on generous helpings of “Ride the Lightning,” before leaving the stage. This was the icing on the cake. Still, there was room for something à la mode. Prompted by the houselights and pre-empting their hasty exit, the crowd stood and clapped insatiably on cue.

After a brief intermission, the beloved crew rematerialized. What remained was not gratuitous in nature. By now, they had featured the latest album, used their time economically, and still had their classics to spare. In other words, it was less of an encore and more of a false ending. The best was yet to come.


Josh Turner
 
Greg Olma
   

While the sound may have been a little rough around the edges at the onset, their gear was more than adequately calibrated for the home stretch.

As they saved space for dessert and got tastier as the evening aged, the highlight and finale were one and the same. They returned to the stage with the daunting first half of “All of the Above” and finished with the conclusive riffs of “Stranger in Your Soul.” It sounded so good and made so much sense that any stop in this or any tour should end this way or else they’d be depriving fans.

What better way to leave their people than to reminisce over those initial notes in their premiere followed by a kind reminder that the band’s final gesture before the breakup was only a temporary goodbye.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2014  Volume 2 at lulu.com/strangesound.
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