The combined musical pedigree of the band members is unsurpassed. Quality is guaranteed along with technical virtuosity although with only one album released to date I was sure that I would be in for an evening of extended jams and solos and much improvisation. Thus, I approached the Sons of Apollo show with mixed feelings, I was never a musician, nor did I attempt to follow that route as a hobby. I am more a lover of songs, mostly following a standard shortened format. I never also relished those extended solos by all band members which used to blight many of my early gig-going experiences back in the eighties.
Charging on stage to one of the few instantly catchier album numbers, Sons opened with “God of the Son” – no stoic serious musician faces present in this band as unbridled enthusiasm and fun was clearly the order of the evening. Without pausing for breath the band then deliver in quick succession “Signs of the Times”, their latest single and then “Divine Addiction”. The band members’ smiles were apparent throughout as they engaged both with each other as well as the packed-to-capacity Manchester audience. Time then to take things down as the first solo of the night arose. Billy Sheehan, I have to say, despite seeing him in many guises, always has me as a non-musician very entertained. His solo wasn’t too long in that it caused insomnia, but rather as a tasty intro to the first Dream Theater song of the evening, “Just Let Me Breathe”, before returning to their own debut album with “Labryinth”.
Billy and his bass again got a longer solo spot which preceded the song “Lost In Oblivion”, my attention was still riveted on the stage as indeed was all of the audience, despite the second solo bass spot. While each musician was afforded his own time in the spotlight, it was also important to give credit to the powerfully delivered vocals of frontman Jeff Scott Soto, who also had his little moment of individual glory which paid homage to one of his own musical heroes, Freddie Mercury. Two Queen songs then were featured, the first, “The Prophet Song”. which just featured Jeff as he harmonised with the vociferous Manchester audience. Secondly, Jeff was joined by guitarist Ron Thal as they worked through an incredible version of the well-known Queen number “Save Me”, complete with operatic vocals.
The guitar-driven song “Alive” brought the rest of the band back into action before Ron himself got his accorded solo when he delivered a surprising version of Henry Mancini’s song which is more known in the UK as being the theme to the Pink Panther children’s television series.
Keyboardist Derek Sherinian delivered a classical sounding Overture before the audience again were engaged with the second Dream Theater song of the evening, “Lines in the Sand”. Cue for the end of the main body of the set before a brief lull and the band returned with yet another cover, but this time one that I enjoyed. Van Halen’s “Cradle will Rock” had many of the audience revisiting their youth and the classic rock era of the eighties.” Their own song, “Coming Home” climaxed the show and indeed sent the audience exactly in that direction.
In conclusion, the show entertained me much more than I had anticipated despite the many covers and solos. Definitely, a supergroup and more than worthy of the name longevity-wise, I hope they stick around to at least record a follow-up that would allow them to tour and actually play a complete set of solely original material.
All photos © John Gilleese