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Transatlantic - KaLIVEoscope

by Tim Bolitho-Jones at 14 November 2014, 10:57 AM

As a rule, even the best live albums sharply divide opinion. There’s always the lingering sense that they’ve been recorded to fulfil a deal with the record label and the lack of new material makes them hard to recommend. Why shell out the cash just to hear a bunch of songs you already know but with people cheering in the background?

On “KaLIVEoscope” however, multi-national Prog super group TRANSATLANTIC make a significant effort to change things up. It’s still not an essential purchase by any means, but they’ve clearly put almost as much effort into this as they do their studio output. Recorded during the tour for their recent “Kaleidoscope” album, it’s a perfect souvenir for anyone that attended one of those gigs and a must-have for any of their fan base who couldn’t make it out. For newcomers though this would be a bad place to start.

For one thing, the run time will be enough to put some folks off. Clocking in at over three hours total runtime (that’s longer than the first Godfather movie!), listening to it in one stretch is almost impossible without imposing some kind of interval. For another, they’re incredibly fond of improvisation and several tracks are extended significantly by the band members getting into a serious free-wheeling groove then forgetting how they finish.

All of which means that fans of DREAM THEATRE that want to check out Mike Portnoy’s “other band” would be better off starting elsewhere, but existing converts will already be frothing at the mouth. The fact some of these live versions sound better than the original recordings will be the icing on a great big indulgent cake.

“The Whirlwind Medley” for instance is terrific. As its name suggests, it’s essentially a condensed version of their third studio album, cut down from over an hour into thirty minutes of high energy keyboards and guitar masturbation. It’s the sound of several talented musicians trying to play through an entire record as quickly as possible and you can practically hear them grinning constantly throughout. Old favourite “My New World” is pleasingly upbeat and the cover of “Nights In White Satin” will have THE MOODY BLUES nodding along happily.

The best parts though go to the cuts off “Kaleidoscope”, which understandably get a lot of attention. “Shine” and “Beyond The Sun” both feature highly emotive vocal performances from NEAL MORSE, especially the latter which starts off with a haunting a Capella intro. The epic title track meanwhile is everything a prog-marathon should be; pretentious, self-indulgent, melodramatic and all the better for it. The occasional segueing into METALLICA’S “Ride The Lightning” is an unexpected treat as well. In fact, they could have taken the five tracks that made up “Kaleidoscope”, added nothing else and still wound up with a pretty decent live album.

It can’t be denied though that the sheer scope of “KaLIVEoscope” is as much a hindrance as a blessing. If you’re a Prog-nerd, can’t be bothered to switch between albums on a long car journey or need something to listen to while struggling through a dissertation then fine, but for newcomers it’ll feel closer to having the door slammed in the face than anything else. Stick with it though because there’s plenty to enjoy here and it captures the atmosphere of their live shows remarkably well, the between-song banter alone makes them sound like the nicest bunch of rock stars to ever take the stage.

3 Star Rating

CD 1

1. Into The Blue
2. My New World
3. Shine

CD 2

1. The Whirlwind Medley
2. Beyond The Sun
3. Kaleidoscope

CD 3

1. Neal And Roine Duet
2. We All Need Some Light
3. Black As The Sky
4. Nights In White Satin
5. Sylvia
6. Hocus Pocus
7. Medley: All Of The Above/Stranger In Your Soul
Roine Scott – Guitars, Vocals, Percussion, Extra Keyboards
Pete Trewavas – Bass
Neal Morse – Acoustic Guitars, Lead Vocals, Keyboards
Mike Portnoy – Drums, Vocals
Ted Leonard – Guitars, Vocals
Record Label: InsideOut Music


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