Flying Colors - 'Live In Europe'

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Flying Colors - 'Live In Europe'

The whole show from Tilburg in the Netherlands, along with a tour documentary.

Flying Colors, the other US supergroup put together by drummer Mike Portnoy since his split with Dream Theater, put out their eclectic debut album early in 2012 and toured Europe with it later the same year. This DVD, available in several different permutations of Blu-Ray, DVD, CD and even triple LP, is the whole show from Tilburg in the Netherlands, along with a tour documentary. It's no secret that I loved the album and enjoyed the sole UK show at the Shepherds Bush Empire immensely, so almost three hours of Portnoy, bassist Dave LaRue, singer Casey MacPherson, guitarist Steve Morse and long-time Portnoy collaborator Neal Morse (no relation!) must be my idea of heaven, right? Well, yes... but with one reservation.

The band play all the songs from the debut album, interspersed with a bass solo from LaRue and songs from the other four members' pasts. Highlights include the Steely Dan-like opener 'Blue Ocean', 'The Storm', 'Better Than Walking Away' and the lengthy prog workout 'Infinite Fire', as well as Steve Morse's fiery fretwork on the Dixie Dregs classic 'Odyssey', Dream Theater's 'Resistance' and a superb version of Spock's Beard's 'June', with an impromptu second encore of Deep Purple's 'Space Truckin'' as an unlisted bonus. There's an obvious chemistry between the five members, with much interaction and a light-hearted feel to proceedings, although Casey MacPherson seems a little shy and overwhelmed by his bandmates at times, but he sings beautifully and his harmonies with Neal Morse and Mike Portnoy are very impressive indeed.

On the negative side I'm quite disappointed with the visuals, with key moments swamped in white light to the point of over-exposure and lacking sharpness. Maybe it was meant to look arty, but when it's being put out as a Blu-Ray it lacks the clarity of many other DVD's of a similar budget, Portnoy and Morse's own Transatlantic work, for instance, is far superior. There's a tour documentary that has some nice comments from everybody about fellow band members, and a bit of clowning around, but most of the forty-five minutes is taken up by clips of sound checks and other shows on the tour, some of which seem to be visually superior to the concert here. However, musically it's stunning and the shortcomings don't really spoil the experience.

Hopefully they'll come over on the back of the forthcoming second album and deliver something really special.

Phil Ashcroft

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