CD Reviews

Flying Colors - 'Second Flight: Live At The Z7' Hot

Added by Central Electronic Brain     February 22, 2016    
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This release easily fits into the category of "every home should have one".

Have I been looking forward to this? You bet I have. From the moment I left the Islington Assembly Hall, having witnessed the gig the night after this recording was made (see review in issue #67), I've anticipated this release with a desire that borders on obsession; that's because the show in question was one of the best I've attended...ever!

Such expectations could lead to disappointment if the output doesn't live up to the memory, but I'm delighted that this release more than meets my lofty requirements. It is, in my opinion, one of the best live albums...ever! The sound is incredible, with several new, unique and innovative treatments available across a variety of available formats; the DVD is superbly shot, using twenty-four cameras, and edited, with no irritating effects or rapid cuts between scenes.

Given the presence of the Prog luminaries in this band's line-up, one could assume that this was a wholly Prog affair. However, between them they have successfully and brilliantly melded Prog sensibilities with melodies, hooks and choruses right out of the Melodic Rock playbook. Also, what pleases me so much is the fact that despite the players being virtuoso musicians there are no unnecessary, superfluous and, dare I say, unwelcome solo spots to bore the pants off the listener; it's great songs all the way. Any soloing is kept well in bounds and perfectly in context with the track being played. Steve Morse's guitar solos are absolutely sublime and Dave LaRue's bass showcases are kept brief.

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The show is more cohesive than their first tour as a consequence of a full set of their own material (one track aside) rather than covers from their "other" bands; the pacing is also spot-on with just the right placing of quieter moments.

Of the fourteen full tracks there's not even a hint of a weak moment, the entire album is an absolute treat from first note to last, therefore picking highlights is nigh on an impossible task; No need to mention every single song. Yes, it really is that good.

The previously mentioned cover is the beautiful acoustic number 'Colder Months' performed solo by Casey McPherson that makes for the perfect segue into the mesmerising and epic 'Peaceful Harbor'. McPherson handles the majority of the lead vocal duties but having Neal Morse and, on occasion, Mike Portnoy taking on that role provides extra colour and depth to the material. The three share vocal duties on the brilliant and vibrant 'A Place in Your World' which also features another wonderful Steve Morse solo.

This release easily fits into the category of "every home should have one".

Gary Marshall

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