Mike Portnoy has worked with Dream Theater, Avenged Sevenfold, Liquid Tension Experiment, Adrenaline Mob, Stone Sour, and Twisted Sister; currently works with The Winery Dogs, Flying Colors, and Transatlantic. Billy Sheehan has worked with Talas, Mr. Big, and David Lee Roth; currently works with The Winery Dogs and Steve Vai. Tony MacAlpine has worked with Planet X, Ring Of Fire, and CAB; currently works with Steve Vai and has his own solo project. Derek Sherinian has worked with Dream Theater, Planet X, Billy Idol, Yngwie Malmsteen, and Joe Bonamassa; currently works with his own solo project.
Impressive list is it not? These four musicians have talent to spare! Them coming together was obviously going to be recipe for greatness, and so I wanted to review their live DVD. I'll discuss how the chemistry exists between them, their stage performance, and of course, the music.
1) A Change of Seasons: I. The Crimson Sunrise: With the years they have playing on stage and playing music like this, it is no surprise how effortless they make it seem. The chemistry is also present. Watching the DVD, we can visually see the relationship the quartet have. They express admiration and respect for their individual talents. Their take on this Dream Theater classic is amazing. There was not one note out of place, but a few added here and there to add their own PSMS flavor. A great rendition indeed! With each member doing their own little solo, it is a real eye/ear catcher.
2) Acid Rain: Unless you know both tracks well, it is hard to know where one stops and the other begins. Track one segues into Acid Rain and since it almost plays in conjunction with the other track, there is no deviation from the performance into this song. This rendition of a Liquid Tension Experiment song works so fluidly with the other, it just seems like one song.
3) The Stranger: This more upbeat track from Tony's solo career is very exciting. A tornado of notes coming from all instruments could possibly mess with your brain for a bit, but that is Progressive Rock music! You can see the audience with their eyes fixed on PSMS; not wanting to miss a note trying to catch what they're playing. The music notation of The Stranger is complicated as well as entertaining.
4) Stratus: This song brings the beat back down a bit to let you catch your breath. This song has a bit of a Joe Satriani vibe to it. Very chill and smooth, but still very rock n' roll. It seems more like a jam session, everyone kind of doing their own thing, but still complimenting the song as a whole. Nothing but relaxing and friendly vibes on stage. Such a smooth performance.
5) Apocalypse 1470 B.C.: Hold on to your hats for this track! This song is not for the weak minded. It is heavy, riveting, powerful, crazy, and it is complicated! The patterns that are played here are hard to follow if this music is not your cup of tea. It blew my mind the first time I heard it. Aside from the chaos here, it's really quite a piece of work. Beautiful guitar melodies and harmonies from the keys make for an effortless performance. There is audience participation here and there which makes it a fun track to watch live.
6) Tony MacAlpine guitar solo: I'm not sure what to say here but: talent, skill, and passion. It is no question how many artists choose to work with Tony. An impressive resume is expected from such an experienced and vibrant guitar player.
7) Been Here Before: Transitioning right into it from the solo, this track is a bit tender with a gentle vibe. It features great solos from the band but on a different dynamic level.
8) Birds of Prey: This is another of Tony's songs here and is lively as it is moving. This song features a solo from the amazing Billy Sheehan. He plays his bass just like Tony plays his guitar! Tony's fingers seem to be flying all over the place in a melodic whirlwind. He does things with his bass that I have not seen a bass player do since Jaco Pastorius, and others I have never seen done before. He is so into his element that his vision never leads to his instrument. This is one of my favorites and highlights of the DVD. The band jumps right back into the song and finishes with great emphasis.
9) The Farandole: This song has a mighty Renaissance era vibe with a nice rockin' edge to it. I really dig it! It is not something you hear a lot of and they seem to connect very well. They all seem to be having so much fun playing this. I don't blame them, it is a fun song that you can move to.
10) The Pump: "The Pump" certainly has the crowd into it as they are keeping the tempo for the band on this one. This is not a bash-away-go-crazy kind of song, just pure groove. Everyone I see seems to be moving to the music. It is one you can really feel and get into. "The Pump" is a great song to just relax to.
11) Mike Portnoy drum solo: His solo into the next track is brief, but is something to behold. One does not need to know drums or drummers to know how talented Portnoy is behind the kit. He is a legendary drummer many times over and although it is a short solo, it is amazingly crafted nonetheless.
12) Nightmare Cinema: This song has a bit of a terror/doom/horror kind of vibe. With a name like "Nightmare Cinema", what do you expect? Some great energy in this tune for sure. It is downright heavy and will be an instant favorite for anyone who loves any of this band musical performance thus far. If I am not mistaken, this was the first track these guys wrote together.
13) Hell's Kitchen: Another Dream Theater classic captured with amazing talent by PSMS. This gentle, ballad-ish tune is one that Dream Theater fans are sure to appreciate seeing live again. The open feel is one that fits right where it's at in the set-list. It is not too early and not too late.
14) Derek Sherinian solo 2012: Once again, not sure what to say here but: talent, skill, and passion. I am intrigued when Derek takes a solo.
15) Lines In the Sand: A powerful opening statement with lights to compliment. There is strength in the music that quickly slows down to let you brace yourself for the guitar solo to come. It is one of those grandiose solos that is not complicated, but one of those slow/big features. This song also feels like one of those jam sessions song where everyone is bringing what they have to the table. A tune of true talent.
16) Shy Boy: This encore and concert finisher is plain and simply a fun song. Nothing too complicated as is the norm with the genre, but something to end the night with a bang. It is a song from Billy's archive, and the only song with lyrics in the whole show is fun and a very active one for the band. I really enjoy those instrumental conversations that the players have with each other. There seems to be a sort of call and response in the music. Where one takes a solo, another will follow. It is a great song to capitalize on an incredible show.
As I said earlier there is talent to spare in PSMS. I often wonder if there is anything these guys cannot musically do? I cannot say enough about them. This DVD is fun and inspiring. It makes you wanna get up and play music of your own.
I sure hope we see more of them in the future. This super-group has caught my attention for sure and they left me wanting more!