There are two things you can count on each year in the world of rock and metal. The first, tons of new albums to listen buy and crank up. The second, just as many live shows to attend and get your fix of those tunes live. Everyone’s concert year begins at different times and mine just started when Sons Of Apollo played the PlayStation Theater in Times Square.
Of course they didn’t come alone. Like most bands they brought along some new talent to introduce to the crowd and get everyone’s blood pumping. The first the hit was Sifting all the way from California. I sadly cannot say much about their music or performance because during their set myself and everyone in the venue was distracted by their personal photographer who was all over the stage. First some up she’s walking across the stage getting video and photos of the drummer while also occasionally turning to photo the other band members all while trying not to get knocked over by the band as they were trying to give their best performance possible to the New York City crowd. Then she proceeded to jump off and on stage to get photo pit shots then back to stage shots. This was a total distraction that barely got them an applause at the end of their set. Sure I get that Sifting was excited to play NYC but upcoming bands learn from their mistake; if you’re an opening band concentrate on your performance and keep your personal photographer in the photo put or off stage because it only proves your ego is bigger than the band you actually are.
After that fiasco was over next up was Felix Martin. I had heard about him and even posted some news about him a while back but unfortunately his albums got lost in the shuffle of promos I receive and I never got the chance to list to them. Needless to say I was curious of what I had missed. Well I definitely missed a lot. Pictures and video do not do this man justice. He is redefining music in his own way with his double electric guitar and playing it like no one has before. Not using the second as show or separate tuning but using it simultaneously to create a sound that is truly unique to him. Playing both frets at the same time, sometimes at a furious pace that’d have Yngwie Malmsteen caught in amazement. It’s rock and metal and jazz and Venezuelan all at the same time. Truly ultimate fusion says it best. His set was so unique and amazing that it felt too short. Needless to say I’ll be reaching out to his people soon because his tunes are tunes I want to play on air for the masses to hear.
Then the time had come for the Sons Of Apollo to do their thing. For those that don’t know this is, for lack of a better term, a Supergroup made up of Jeff Scott Soto on vocals, Derek Sherinian on keyboards, Billy Sheehan on bass, Ron “Bumblefoot” Thal on guitar, and Mike Portnoy on drums. Take a moment to let that sink in because a line up like that doesn’t happen as often as you think.
You’d expect any group of that caliber to come out swinging and they did more than that. They came out blazing hot opening with “God Of The Sun”. Instantly you could feel the energy they had and knew that this was a show that was going to be more than expected. It was without doubt the most intense opening song I’ve seen performed live and to have the testicular fortitude to open a show with an 11-minute epic said that they were only getting started.
The energy level continued to rise in the band and crowd as they progressed through their set and during their performance of Dream Theater’s “Just Let Me Breathe” I found myself in amazement at the chemistry within the band. Sons Of Apollo by industry standards are a young band. Only one album that came out late last year and this was their first full blown tour. But yet the chemistry between them was like they have been playing together and touring the globe for years. Playing off of each other, goofing around without missing a cue, and sounding flawless. At one point Jeff Scott Soto behind Mike Portnoy with each other using the others microphone without missing a note. You don’t see this from bands with all original members of multiple decades together yet alone a band touring together for the first time.
Of course I lost myself during “Labyrinth” as there’s just something about that song, on the album and live, that just grabs me. Still don’t know what it is exactly but it’s truly a powerful song that retains its energy.
Then I saw a first. Right before their performance of “The Prophet’s Song” and “Save Me” by Queen we got a vocals solo. Yes, through the magic of technology Jeff Scott Soto got the chance to highlight his talents as a singer. Technology allowed him to harmonize with himself as he belted out vocals throughout his range by echoing the previous tone he sang in. Needless to say I’ve become a fan because for once the singer wasn’t about how high a note he could hit or how long he sustained the note but his own actual voice as it was just him, the microphone, and the crowd.
After that it was pure fun. Nothing like seeing today’s top musicians do their take on “The Pink Panther Theme” that lets everyone just let loose. Bumblefoot and Mike Portnoy leading the way as Billy Sheehan added to set the mood. Metal and jazz together as only one would expect it to be.
But that wasn’t the end of their fun and surprises. After continuing to rock the house with “Opus Maximus” and “Figaro’s Whore” they hit the crowd with “Lines In The Sand” by Dream Theater to hint to the crowd without the crowd knowing that in rock and metal that line between fans and band gets moved every so often. Their encore blew that line away as the came out with Van Halen’s “And The Cradle Will Rock…” with Jeff Scott Soto in the crowd making everyone, band and fans, one for just a few moments.
When all was said and done, the band took their bow, and “Happy Trails” played through the sound system no one felt like it was a 2-hour plus show because there wasn’t a dead moment to be had. No stalling, no mediocre song to give fans a bathroom break. Sons Of Apollo delivered a full on rock and metal show that the metal gods would raise a glass to. And here’s hoping this is just the beginning of many more shows like this from them.