Concert Review Archive

 

Transatlantic

Wednesday, 12th March 2014
HMV forum, London, the UK

Article By John Wenlock-Smith

Thursday, 13th March 2014
013, Tilburg, the Netherlands

Article, Photo and Video By André de Boer

Friday, 14th March 2014
013, Tilburg, the Netherlands

Article By Marcel Hartenberg
Photos By Theo Verstrael

London

John

Transatlantic Transatlantic have now been in existence for some fifteen years releasing four Studio and four Live Albums/DVD’s in that period and this is the first time I have witnessed this band in the live arena and I was eager to see and hear for myself how they would take the music of Kaleidoscope forward in a live setting.

Well I am delighted to report that Live Transatlantic are every bit as awesome live as they on disc (or vinyl), I mean I shouldn’t have been surprised after all these are consummate musicians with impeccable pedigree and literally thousands of hours gigging experience yet we’ve all see bands that sound great on disc but live are just a soggy mess – often some pretty “Big” bands too, however my fears were totally unfounded.

For on Wednesday 12th March 2014 Transatlantic virtually blew the roof off the HMV Forum in North London with a remarkable 2 hour 50 minute set that encompassed all of Kaleidoscope along with certain key moments from their back catalogue.

The stage set up was simple but also strikingly different ain that both Neal Morse and Mike Portnoy were at opposite sides of the stage – Mike Portnoy being sideways on almost, giving a new slant on drummer centre of the back of the stage idiom, actually this worked really well as it gave an unparalled view of Mr Portnoy who is an extraordinarily excellent drummer plus you could catch his whole visual showman ethic and his sheer joy of being on stage with these guys and this band in this venue and this show.

Transatlantic

The was also a very impressive screen showing backdrops and visuals throughout and these added rather than subtracting from the overall effect of the music – again another rarity.

However towering above all it was the music that stole the show, Transatlantic do not have mediocre songs nor do they have many short ones really …which again makes for the sense of occasion, from the opening keyboard motif of Into the Blue to the closing bars of Stranger in your soul we are talking about both a fantastic live sound, being both clear and distinct and also of musicians capable of delivering these songs with integrity, passion and intensity.

For me one of the highlights was Shine, which I think is replacing we all need some light as my favourite shorter Transatlantic song, this was made even more poignant by Neal’s heartfelt dedication to a huge Prog Fan (Paul Hanlon) who was in hospital and couldn’t make the show, in fact the song is written with him in mind and this made this song even more emotive and captivating and moving.

Transatlantic

It is the use of light and shades that transatlantic employ and the majestic and sometimes strident nature of these songs that propels the evening forward, these guys were also revelling in playing for a UK (London) crowd and in no way did they disappoint.

The segment from Whirlwind was rapturously received, hardly surprising as that album marked a major step forward for the band into a different league I’m just astonished how they remember all the twists and turns of what is very complex music. However they manage this with style and grace and aplomb the Whirlwind segment was followed by a haunting rendition of Beyond the Sun with its refrain form into the blue adding to the beauty of this shorter song.

Transatlantic

Then came Kaleidoscope which was absolutely stunning, it’s a long song over 30 minutes in duration and they played it brilliantly too, great interplay between Neal and Roine and superb support from Pete, Mike and Ted, throughout this song there are some genuinely great moments, keyboard solo’s, guitar solos and Pete’s singing, well he will never set the world alight with his vocals but his bass is unsurpassed, overall though it adds rather than detracts from the song adding moments of whimsy almost.

Roine and Neal then indulge in a brief but entertaining guitar duel before leading into We all need some light, during the chorus of which the rest of the band join in, again this is another splendid version with a lovely Roine Stolt guitar solo, For all their individual instrumental “Prowess” Transatlantic are very much ensemble players, each using their virtuosity to take the rest of the band to a higher level and it’s an approach that works and pays dividends as it lends the music a cohesiveness that makes it shimmer and shine.

Transatlantic

A short but energetic and powerful Black as the sky follows and brings the main part of the set to a close, naturally though no one wants to go home just set and the crowd are very vocal about this And so they return like conquering heroes to deliver two further fine pieces all of the above and Stranger in your soul that round off majestically what has been a fantastic evening of music from five very talented and good natured musicians.

Well I can say I will not let their next tour pass me by and I will see you down the front in eager anticipation as Mike Portnoy famously quoted “Welcome back my friends to the show that never ends” – let’s hope this one runs and runs for a good while yet.

Oh and I hope someone somewhere is recording this tour for a live DVD and / or CD.

A fantastic evening – highly recommended, so catch them if you possibly can …

Setlist Wednesday 12th
Into The Blue
My New World
Shine

Overture (from Whirlwind)
Rose tinted glasses
Evermore
Is it really happening?
Dancing with eternal Glory

Beyond the sun
Kaleidoscope
Guitar Duel – Roine Stolt and Neal Morse
We all need some light
Black as the sky

All of the above
Stranger in your soul
 

Tilburg

André

Almost two thousand addicted souls were looking forward to this Transatlantic gig, most of them with an exquisite 2010 show in mind. And to be short, tonight turned out to be such a sublime night too. In my opinion this is always the case with Neal Morse and/or Roine Stolt and/or Mike Portnoy on stage. Never a dull moment and hours of great show and music. And watching Mike Portnoy is a small show on its own as well. Nice to see that Neal pointed his finger in my direction twice with a big smile on his face, telling with his eyes he recognised me from the wonderful interview I had the privilege of doing with him last year.

Transatlantic

I had heard rumours that Mike Portnoy was injured or ill but I did not notice anything of that during this show. He was throwing around with his drum kit, using his kit while walking around it and acting like one happy clown as we know him. On the other hand I did notice Neal Morse was rather tired and / or had a bad cold. His voice did not always reach the high notes (Ted Leonard helped him out a bit on several occasions) and while playing his keys he had to reach for a box of tissues a few times. Still he stood fierce, the show must go on.

To end up the show after the first encore, Mike Portnoy announced Transatlantic be playing the Dutch national anthem. After which the audience got really excited on Thijs van Leer entering the stage as special guest. Some nice people in front of me had already shown me their smartphone pics of Neal and Thijs walking in Tilburg together that day.

Transatlantic

Hearing Transatlantic play the Focus songs Sylvia and Hocus Pocus while looking at Thijs van Leer on keys and flute -with the biggest smile I've ever seen on stage- was a real treat. Again Ted Leonard had to help out here by filling in the high yodel notes! A staggering night.

Setlist Thursday 13th
Intro ("The Orchestral Whirlwind")
Into the Blue
My New World
Shine
Whirlwind Medley
Overture (abridged, Intro and Whirlwind)
Rose Colored Glasses
Evermore
Is It Really Happening?
Dancing With Eternal Glory (Whirlwind Reprise)
Bridge Across Forever
Kaleidoscope

Guitar Duet - by Morse and Stolt
We All Need Some Light
Black as the Sky

Sylvia (Focus cover with Thijs van Leer)
Hocus Pocus (Focus cover with Thijs van Leer)
 

Tilburg

Marcel

Transatlantic My friend and I, we arrived rather late at the 013 in Tilburg and were glad to find something of a good spot, way down, not somewhere on the balcony what we had first expected. Strange feeling, going to this concert, only hours after I was at a gig by Giovanca, the Dutch lightfeathered soul and funk inspired singer in my hometown. So I had to switch off my dance mood to get into full on prog mode.

Into The Blue took immediate care of that, the song being the opener of the recent and great Kaleidoscope record. My New World had the whole of 013 in swing and strangely enough, my dancing shoes almost slipped back on. We witnessed a band that more than ever appeared to be a band on stage, yet the domination of Mike's "power-on drums" for me did not imply to be an enrichment for the music. Sure, he knows a thing or two about drumming, but subtlety just never will be his middlename if he continues to drum solely on the fore of the music. Of course, it is part of seeing him play live, but it might add to his stature if he could actually manage to control his on stage extravaganza. Not all songs benefit from giving it your all as a drummer.

Thus, we found it hard to find moments of rest in the set. Sure, there were the semiballads yet Transatlantic could do with more balance in songs and not just put that into songs which simply are semiballads. The 'Is it really happening?' part of the Whirlwind showed that they do know how to do that and it features a calm enough Mike on drums. More of that, please.



Transatlantic

I thought Ted Leonard did a great job, Neal is always fine and Pete's basslines (most particularly during one of the new numbers) were sometimes incredible. What a great bassplayer he is! Even though I am a sucker for guitarsolo's, there always has to be that certain something. Roine really played several great solo's, I could hear that, yet, great solo's are not just that, they should be felt. I don't know what it was or is; that didn't work for me at the gig. When listening to the album, there is no such difficulty in loving them. Perhaps just the moment?

Another things that happened, very much less so with the 'Kaleidoscope' tracks is that I lose track (unintended pun) of what the song is about musically. Yes, I hear great parts and I understand that they fit into a song altogether but I, more than once, thought, where are we going now? Yet, all around, people had smiles on their faces and knew lyrics from way too exotic parts of ever so long songs and I enjoyed their happiness. More observer than participant, I realized I was witness to something special for the greater part of the audience.

Transatlantic

I enjoyed the Kaleidoscope and the older tracks very much. I must add, I found both covers were great, even considering Neal's voice and technical strains. Perhaps Ted should have done the whole of the singing on 'And you and I'. TA having a special relationship with Tilburg came back for another encore. And this time we could relate to it! All in all, a nice gig. For sure, it was many people's party and it was nice to witness that.

Setlist Friday 14th
Into The Blue
My New World
Shine

Overture (from Whirlwind)
Rose tinted glasses
Evermore
Is it really happening?
Dancing with eternal Glory

Beyond the sun
Kaleidoscope
Guitar Duel – Roine Stolt and Neal Morse
We all need some light
Black as the sky

Night In White Satin (The Moody Blues cover)
And You And I (Yes cover)

All of the above
Stranger in your soul

Links
Transatlantic Official Website

DPRP's Review of "Kaleidoscope"
DPRP's Review of "The Whirlwind"

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