Transatlantic at the O2 Forum in Kentish Town
What can I say about Transatlantic. A band consisting of four legendary musicians in the progressive rock genre coming together to create what can only be described as the prog supergroup of the 21st century.
Accompanying the four permanent members of the band (Roine Stolt, Mike Portnoy, Pete Trewavas, Neal Morse) this evening, albeit now may as well be an honorary 5th member, is Spocks Beard’s Ted Leonard – who may I say performed superbly filling in the gaps where the rest of the band members didn’t have enough hands.
I covered the release of their new album last year, and I’m thrilled to be able to catch them performing the entire thing live! Not even just the abridged, or extended version mind, but the full whack Blu-ray version that’s just over 96 minutes long!
With the band not having been in London since 2014, the crowd was more than ready for the return of the band. Everyone knew how much of a rare treat it is to catch them all on the same stage doing their thing live.
The evening started with the full rendition of The Absolute Universe with no parts being missed out. The band were on top form with everyone’s parts cutting through the mix when it counted. Roine’s iconic red telecaster kept catching my eye as his recognisable play style provided a contrast to the classic Neal Morse style sections of the music.
At the halfway point of the album, Mike joked that this evening the band are going to play all three versions of the album, one after the other (which would take over 4 hours!) And as much as that would be an interesting test of stamina, I’m thankful that they kept moving forward with just the Blu-ray version.
I also really enjoyed hearing Pete’s lead vocals live. They aren’t always as prominent in Marillion, but in Transatlantic they have their own special place in the vocal blend between these musicians – and I couldn’t imagine it any other way.
The crowd roared to the finish of The Absolute Universe, knowing full well that this may be the only time they ever get to witness it live in full.
After a brief interval, the second half of the set began with melodies of crowd pleasers from The Whirlwind, SMPT:e, and Bridge Across Forever. It’s hard to cover your discography when every album is a continuous concept track, but they hit all of the best parts in the limited time that they had.
There was one inkling of crowd interaction during the start of SMPT:e – a little sing song with some gentle encouragement from Neal during ‘We All Need Some Light’. It does always come as a surprise when an audience has been quietly nodding away for two hours, and then everyone suddenly awakens and starts singing along, even if tonight it was in a more muted fashion.
I loved Neal’s snazzy extended acoustic moment during this track with the harmonies on his 12-string. It gave a nice bit of contrast to what was a very constant instrumentation throughout the three-hour show.
Thankfully this live set will eventually live forever as the show is being filmed for dvd Blu-ray in Paris on the final date of this European tour.
Is this the end for Transatlantic? Mike tweeted out a cryptic phrase on Twitter suggesting that this may be the case, but as with any of these long-standing musical projects, they always seem to come back eventually, even if the breaks between activity become further apart.
Remember that 2022 is the year we got a new Porcupine Tree album. Anything could happen in the future…