TRANSATLANTIC Live In Europe (Inside Out IOMCD140) (2003)
Transatlantic was a sadly short-lived prog ‘supergroup’ that united the
talents of Neal Morse (Ex-Spocks Beard), Mike Portnoy (Dream Theater),
Roine Stolt (The Flower Kings) and Pete Trewavas (Marillion). Having recorded
‘Live in America’ following a short USA tour in support of their first
‘SMPTe’ album, this double CD set is a statement from a slightly more
mature band, recorded during their ‘Bridge Across Europe’ tour, in Tillburg
Holland at the excellent 013 venue.
The material on the first CD is largely taken from the band’s second studio
release ‘Bridge Across Forever’ and things get underway with the 26-minute
long ‘Duel with the Devil’. But wait, that is only the fourth longest song
on the album! As Mike Portnoy himself says at the end of the tune, 'nothing
but fucking epics tonight!' Clearly this is a disk that will appear to fans
of long progressive epic tunes, but the creative geniuses in this band also
know how to write a fine melody and to deliver a melodic guitar solo, so
please don’t allow that to put you off.
The disk continues with the two shortest tracks, ‘My New World’ and ‘We All
need some Light Now’, both of which seem closest to ‘The Flower Kings’
material in that they are less aggressive and have a certain Beatles-like
quality to the choruses, so one suspects that Roine Stolt had a leading
part in their composition. Then the band confirms their love of Beatles material
by continuing with the 30 minute ‘Suite Charlotte Pike Medley’, into which
they interweave large extracts of tunes from ‘Abbey Road’. Never having
been a huge fan myself, the ease with which the Lennon/McCartney compositions
sit alongside such supposedly ‘modern’ compositions does make one realize just
how ‘progressive’ the fab four were themselves.
Disk 2 opens with band introduction and launches into, in the words of Neal
Morse, ‘my favourite. The epic to end all epics', namely ‘Stranger in Your
Soul’, another extract from the ‘Bridge Across Forever’ album. A fantastic
tune, heavy with the hallmarks of a Morse composition, it makes another 30
minutes just fly by.
Of course the band has to return for an encore, and this being
Transatlantic, the encore isn’t short. ‘All of the above’ was the major
band composition from the combo’s debut disk and unfortunately, the title says
it all. It can’t help sounding like a rag bag of Prog clichés - some better
than others and while I remember enjoying the band play this live, on disk
it has always been one to skip.
So there you have it. The best part of two and a half hours of music,
played by some of the finest Prog musicians of recent times, however the material
itself and the length of the tunes mean that it is probably one for fans
only. Which is a shame as the release fails to transmit the humour and joy
that is apparent when watching this band in action. Neal Morse is an
amazing musician and a real performer who I think many would appreciate more, if
they could see the enthusiasm and good humour he displays on stage. For
that, I suggest that you pick up the 2DVD version of this concert or
perhaps even the Limited Edition 2DVD/2CD set.