On a warm night in Philly I was able to take in the majesty of the one and only SONS OF APOLLO live for the first time. For those of you not already in the know, we’re talking Mike Portnoy (drums/vocals), Derek Sherinian (keyboards), Billy Sheehan (bass), Bumblefoot (guitars/vocals), and Jeff Scott Soto (lead vocals) all IN THE SAME BAND!!! Their debut album Psychotic Symphony was one of my favorites when released late last year through InsideOut Music/Sony Music, so getting to hear these tracks live and in the flesh had me pretty excited. As an added bonus this would be the first show I worked with Chris Minor, photographer and owner of Rockview Live. Hell, he even drove and had us at the venue in near record time.
The Theater of the Living Arts had a nice-sized crowd without being too packed and before long I found a perfect vantage point to watch everyone going by, most of whom were t-shirts with either DREAM THEATER or THE WINERY DOGS on them, which should come as a shock to no one. FELIX MARTIN was direct support for this run. Being a casual fan I was curious as to what his show would be like. He and his two bandmates are insanely talented, really nice guys, and I thoroughly enjoyed their set. If you caught this tour I sure hope you got there in time for them. Unfortunately I missed opening band SIFTING, but I hear they were good as well.
So the lights go down, the intro tape starts to roll…and then Holeee Mother of Pearl, the band tore into “God of the Sun”, 11-minute opening track from the new disc. We all know what a great musical pedigree these five guys come from, no one can argue that. But when you see and hear them as a cohesive unit up on that stage? It is mind-blowing. Everyone plays his parts to perfection, and there is so much “WOW!” up there your eyes dart from player to player just trying to take it all in. And I also have to say this: Jeff Scott Soto is not only a phenomenally talented singer, but man alive, he is an INCREDIBLE frontman, too!! He knows every part, every nuance, every lick, and he is so much fun to watch that I want the band back here yesterday!
Oh, and I knew Bumblefoot could sing, but again, when you hear his pipes live, there were just some moments where it was jaw-dropping what he could do, all the while shredding away guitar wise. Another thing too about him, Soto, and the others, is that they really look like five guys having FUN up there. They play with each other, and they play with the crowd, too. The one-two punch of new tunes “Signs of the Time” and “Divine Addiction” had the faithful going crazy, and then, along comes some DREAM THEATER in the form of “Just Let Me Breathe.” Admittedly I hadn’t heard this one in about 20 years, but oh man, was it stellar!! Especially Soto’s performance, wow!!
Other highlights for me included them doing “Lost In Oblivion”, one of my favorites from the disc, and “Opus Maximus.” One is a super-killer rocker, the other is a 10-minute instrumental. It was also very cool to get another DT song with “Lines In the Sand”, and what’s this? VAN HALEN’S “And the Cradle Will Rock”?? Again, all I have is WOW! The show closed with “Coming Home”, which is definitely one of the best in their arsenal, and was my ringtone for a bit. Man, listen…if you missed SONS OF APOLLO on this run you 100% missed out. But that’s forgivable. Because there is no way this is a one album project. I think these five musical giants will be making music together for quite awhile. Just get yer ass out to see ‘em next time!
LIVE IMAGES: ROCKVIEW LIVE
LIVE WORDS: THE MAESTRO