Portnoy, Sheehan, MacAlpine, Sherinian - 'Live In Tokyo'

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Portnoy, Sheehan, MacAlpine, Sherinian - 'Live In Tokyo'

A ninety-five minute set that will be nirvana to some but definitely an acquired taste to others.

Surely any project that features ex-Dream Theater drummer Mike Portnoy and Mr Big bassist Billy Sheehan, linking up with renowned guitarist Tony MacAlpine and keyboard wizard Derek Sherinian (Black Country Communion, Dream Theater, Billy Idol) is assured of some level of success in Japan, a real stronghold for most of those bands and virtuoso musicianship in general. Recorded at the end of 2012 at the Zepp in Tokyo, this DVD captures four of the best musicians around playing mostly instrumentals (or instrumental versions) of their back catalogues, alongside a couple of classics in a ninety-five minute set that will be nirvana to some but definitely an acquired taste to others.

In a set that includes a representation of Sherinian's relatively short time in Dream Theater ('Hells Kitchen', 'Lines In The Sand' and a section of 'A Change Of Seasons' to open), everybody gets a solo spot and a rare chance to play lesser known selections from previous projects, of which the highlights include Liquid Tension Experiment's 'Acid Rain', Sherinian's 'Been Here Before' and MacAlpine's 'The Stranger'. The solo spots are a bit hit and miss, probably depending on which instrument you play/favour, and I'm not really sure of the point of covering Billy Cobham's 'Stratus' or Jeff Beck's 'The Pump' when they have so much other material at their disposal, but everything is impeccably done and the cameras do a great job of keeping up with the soloists and capturing a good onstage vibe between the musicians.

The amount of rehearsal it must have taken to be this tight is mind-boggling, but this is probably not a DVD for the average music lover, only the encore of the Talas classic 'Shy Boy' having vocals, Billy Sheehan and the slightly better Mike Portnoy trading verses in a way that suggests they could probably have done well enough on the Dream Theater tunes. With a short documentary that shows the band happy, relaxed and appreciative of each other's talents, Japan is sadly one of the few places where this kind of project could be done on a big enough scale. Let's be thankful that the cameras were there to capture it.

Phil Ashcroft

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