TransAtlantic - Kentish Town Forum, London
TransAtlantic are the exception to prove the rule, the black sheep of supergroups that actually works as an entity, a whole greater than the sum of its parts. It may be a touch controversial, but I am certain I am not the only person here tonight who believes that for all five men on stage, this is the best band they are or have ever been a part of. And for this tour they have been joined by Ted Leonard, meaning we have both former and current frontmen from Spock's Beard here – there is no question as to which one leads here!
Kicking things off in the only way they know how, the first thirty minute prog epic (and definitely not the last) of the evening is 'Into The Blue' from latest opus Kaleidoscope. Greeted as warmly as an old classic, it has all the TransAtlantic hallmarks with a multitude of diverse sections and chances for them all to take the spotlight. It seems remarkable that this has been a going concern for fifteen years now, as Mike Portnoy reminds us as they launch into 'My New World' from their debut. I remember being blown away all those years ago by SMPT:e, and the effect is the same again here.
Still, it's not quite all perfect; in a three hour show there will inevitably be a few more tedious passages. Although in a vastly shortened form for the tour, The Whirlwind remains largely a dull affair, and with the two newbies 'Shine' and 'Beyond The Sun' bookending it this trio is the nadir of tonight's entertainment. This is only highlighted further as they burst straight out of this lull into the spectacular title track from the latest album, a tour de force of ridiculous musicianship and inspired songwriting.
The main set is rounded out with a stellar version of 'Black As The Sky', this version even more vibrant and rollicking than the studio one and sticks out as the highlight of the night. The encore however leaves me with mixed feelings; in 'All Of The Above' and 'Stranger In Your Soul' TransAtlantic have two masterpieces, potential 'Supper's Ready' for this generation, so to abridge both is tragic, frustrating and utterly pointless. Ultimately though, there is no denying the sheer brilliance of the show put on for us here, a spectacular extravaganza that, despite the odd dip, we don't get to see often enough.