The wait is finally over for Sons of Apollo’s new live recording. The band officially released its new recording, Live With The Plovdiv Psychotic Symphony Friday. The 24-song, two-and-a-half-hour concert was recorded at the famed Plovdiv Roman Theatre in Plovdiv, Bulgaria. If that sounds familiar to some audiences, it should. That is because that is the same venue where the Devin Townsend Project recorded its most recent live recording, Ocean Machine – Live at the Ancient Roman Theatre Plovdiv. That’s another concert, though. This concert in question is a presentation that is certain to appeal to every Sons of Apollo fan. That is due in part to the concert’s extensive set list, which will be addressed shortly. The band’s performance of said set list is important to note in its own right and will be discussed a little later. The concert’s production values round out its most important elements. Each item noted is key in its own right to the whole of the recording. All things considered, they make Live With The Plvdiv Psychotic Symphony a good first live outing for this prog-rock super group.
Sons of Apollo’s debut live recording Live With The Plovdiv Psychotic Symphony is a good first live offering from the prog-rock super group. It succeeds all the way around, beginning with its extensive set list. The 24-song, two-and-a-half-hour set list features the band’s debut album Psychotic Symphony in whole as well as covers of some of the band members’ own favorite songs from other acts and even some work from the band members’ own catalogs. While Psychotic Symphony is presented in whole here, it is not in the same sequence as on the record, which is not necessarily bad. It is instead scattered throughout the record with the other noted songs, including three classic Dream Theater songs ‘Just Let Me Breath,’ ‘Lines in The Sand’ and ‘Hell’s Kitchen.’ All three songs were lifted from Dream Theater’s 1997 album Falling Into Infinity, which was really the record that set Derek Sherinian’s identity as the band’s keyboardist at the time. The covers featured in the set list are quite varied in their own right. Rainbow gets a nod with ‘Gates of Babylon.’ The band also takes on Ozzy Osbourne with ‘Diary of a Madman.’ The band members even cover works from Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin and the one and only Henry Mancini (yes, Henry Mancini) in this set list. That’s quite a range of music. From hard rock to prog rock to jazz and even the mainstream rock of Van Halen (the band also covers Van Halen’s ‘And The Cradle Will Rock,’ in this set), the band shows a wide range of influences and talent with the covers and the originals. All things considered, the band’s set list ensures audiences’ maintained engagement and entertainment from the beginning to the end of the show. That is heightened even more through the sequencing of the set list. A close watch/listen shows a lot of thought went into the sequencing, as the show’s energy rises and falls at all of the right moments, ensuring even more, audiences’ engagement.
The engagement and entertainment ensured through this recording’s set list is but one part of what makes it so appealing for audiences. The band’s performance of that set list ensures, even more that maintained engagement and entertainment. Those who actively watch and/or listen to the recording will note that the band wastes little to no time moving from one song to the next over the course of the concert. Case in point is the transition from ‘Alive to Henry Mancini’s timeless ‘Pink Panther Theme,’ and from that song into ‘Opus Maximus.’ The transition is seamless from one song to the next. The band members hit all the right notes and cues to make each transition work. It is just one of the prime examples of how the band makes the most of its time. Earlier on in the set, the band transitions just as seamlessly from ‘Signs of the Time’ into ‘Divine Addiction.’ That fluidity makes for so much enjoyment for audiences. Even in the rare moments in which the band does take a moment to interact with the audience, little time is wasted, such as when drummer Mike Portnoy introduces his longtime friend and band mate Billy Sheehan for Sheehan’s solo. That solo, by the way, would make fans of Cliff Burton and Lemmy Kilmister proud. Getting back on topic, Portnoy’s introduction is short and to the point, giving Sheehan more time to perform. Even when front man Jeff Scott Soto gets his moment in the spotlight for his solo performances, he is gracious and humble in addressing the audience, and brief in the process. Simply put, from the concert’s opening to its finale, the band’s presence and performance of the show’s set list displays the band as a fine tuned machine and as a group of true professional musicians that wants to give audiences the absolute biggest bang for its buck. When that is considered alongside the set list itself, the whole of those two elements gives audiences more than enough to appreciate in this case. Even with all of this in mind, the set list and the band’s performance thereof is still only a portion of what makes the concert so enjoyable for audiences. The recording’s production values put the finishing touch to its presentation.
The production values in this recording are so important in that they add so much more to the general effect of the concert. The camera angles, the transitions from camera to camera (including the speed of the transitions) help to expertly capture and translate the energy of the show for audiences who were not lucky enough to be in attendance at what was the band’s first-ever concert at the Roman Theatre. At the same time, they also give home audiences the absolute best seat in the house, taking viewers right up close wit hthe band on stage and from high above at some points. The sound editing and mixing is just as worthy of praise, as it keeps all of the music and vocals just as expertly balanced throughout. Case in point is the balance of Soto’s vocal delivery against the instrumental elements in ‘Kashmir.’ Portnoy and company are clearly audible, but never once overpower the orchestral backing provided for the performance. At the same time Soto’s vocals are never overpowered by his band mates and guest orchestral musicians as he takes on Robert Plant’s part from the original song. When the expert production and mixing is considered alongside the band’s performance and the set list, the whole of the concert becomes an experience that definitely presents a very wide appeal. Overall, the noted elements make this recording in whole one more of this year’s top new live Blu-ray/DVD recordings.
Sons of Apollo’s debut live recording Live With The Plovdiv Psychotic Symphony is a powerful first live offering from the prog-rock super group. It is an offering whose appeal reaches easily beyond just fans of the band, but the bands with whom each of its musicians have performed and more. That is proven in part through the recording’s extensive set list. The set list not only presents the band’s debut album Psychotic Symphony in whole, but also lots of covers and originals that will appeal to lots of audiences. The band’s performance of that set list does just as much to make the recording enjoyable. The recording’s production and mixing put the last touch to its presentation, ensuring even more its positive impact. Each item noted is important in its own right to the whole of the recording. All things considered, they make Live With The Plovdiv Psychotic Symphony not just a strong live debut for Sons of Apollo, but also one more of this year’s top new live Blu-ray/DVD recordings. More information on the recording is available online now along with all of Sons of Apollo’s latest news and more at:
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