'Portnoy Sheehan MacAlpine Sherinian' Deliver Impressive Prog and Fusion

Four titans of progressive rock demonstrate their individual and collective genius. The virtuosity is dizzying but no one gets hurt.

Portnoy Sheehan MacAlpine Sherinian

Live In Tokyo

Label: Eagle Vision
US Release date: 2013-09-03
UK Release date: 2013-09-02

Recorded during an exhaustive tour in the dimming days of 2012, this video chronicles the impressive partnership forged by four giants of contemporary progressive music. We don’t have space here for the full family try but suffice it to say that these cats have all worked together before, although, as far as we can tell, never all at once.

For those keeping track here’s a quick overview of the collective’s ties: Mike Portnoy (drums) and Derek Sherinian (keyboards) served in Dream Theater together; guitarist Tony MacAlpine and bassist Billy Sheehan toured together as members of Steve Vai’s band and the latter played on one of the former’s earliest albums. MacAlpine and Sherinian were/are both members of Planet X, Sheehan has guested on at least one of Sherinian’s solo albums and Portnoy and the bass legend are now part of the ultra cool rock trio The Winery Dogs.

The quartet doesn’t necessarily break new ground but this collaboration isn’t about the birth of some new sub-sub genre. Instead it’s a chance for these guys to blow our hair back with their chops and collective past experience. There are selections from Dream Theater (“A Change of Seasons I: The Crimson Sunrise”, “Lines In the Sand”, “Hell’s Kitchen”), MacAlpine’s solo work (“The Stranger”), Sheehan’s time with Talas (“Shy Boy”) and a few covers (Billy Cobham’s “Stratus”, “The Pump”, as recorded by Jeff Beck).

If there were any doubt that Sheehan and Portnoy would forge anything less than a perfect rhythm section such rumblings are dashed within the first seconds of “A Change of Seasons”; MacAlpine’s never sounded better than he does here, his playing impossibly fluid and infinitely more focused than most players have the right to be. Sherinian blazes his way across the keyboard time after time, tune after tune, proving why he’s still the Dream Theater keyboardist for many fans well over a decade after his departure from the fold.

This being a band of players who are considered the best on their respective instruments, each man is given his solo space and not one of those disappoints either, though Sheehan’s is arguably the best of them all as it serves to remind us how far into the future he’s brought the instrument in the last 30 or so years. Sherinian’s turn is probably the most imaginative and the group itself peaks on tunes such as “Stratus”, “Nightmare Cinema”, “Lines In the Sand” and Liquid Tension Experiment’s “Acid Rain”.

Add to this that thee stereo and surround sound audio were mixed by the legendary Simon Phillips (he’s worked extensively with Sherinian) and that the cameras manage to take us on a breathtaking ride through each number, and you’ve got yourself an unforgettable visual and aural experience. (If you can’t get enough of this there’s a companion two-disc CD set which compromises none of the excitement found here.)

The only bonus material on the DVD/Blu-ray is a short documentary featuring reflections from each of the guys. It’s not filled with revelations, but it’s a nice glimpse into their worlds at the end of an exhausting tour.

If this is the only statement from Portnoy Sheehan MacAlpine and Sherinian we can rest assured that they’ve give us their best. This is aq new classic in the prog/fusion canon.


In the wake of Malcolm Young's passing, Jesse Fink, author of The Youngs: The Brothers Who Built AC/DC, offers up his top 10 AC/DC songs, each seasoned with a dash of backstory.

In the wake of Malcolm Young's passing, Jesse Fink, author of The Youngs: The Brothers Who Built AC/DC, offers up his top 10 AC/DC songs, each seasoned with a dash of backstory.

Keep reading... Show less

Pauline Black may be called the Queen of Ska by some, but she insists she's not the only one, as Two-Tone legends the Selecter celebrate another stellar album in a career full of them.

Being commonly hailed as the "Queen" of a genre of music is no mean feat, but for Pauline Black, singer/songwriter of Two-Tone legends the Selecter and universally recognised "Queen of Ska", it is something she seems to take in her stride. "People can call you whatever they like," she tells PopMatters, "so I suppose it's better that they call you something really good!"

Keep reading... Show less

Morrison's prose is so engaging and welcoming that it's easy to miss the irreconcilable ambiguities that are set forth in her prose as ineluctable convictions.

It's a common enough gambit in science fiction. Humans come across a race of aliens that appear to be entirely alike and yet one group of said aliens subordinates the other, visiting violence upon their persons, denigrating them openly and without social or legal consequence, humiliating them at every turn. The humans inquire why certain of the aliens are subjected to such degradation when there are no discernible differences among the entire race of aliens, at least from the human point of view. The aliens then explain that the subordinated group all share some minor trait (say the left nostril is oh-so-slightly larger than the right while the "superior" group all have slightly enlarged right nostrils)—something thatm from the human vantage pointm is utterly ridiculous. This minor difference not only explains but, for the alien understanding, justifies the inequitable treatment, even the enslavement of the subordinate group. And there you have the quandary of Otherness in a nutshell.

Keep reading... Show less

A 1996 classic, Shawn Colvin's album of mature pop is also one of best break-up albums, comparable lyrically and musically to Joni Mitchell's Hejira and Bob Dylan's Blood on the Tracks.

When pop-folksinger Shawn Colvin released A Few Small Repairs in 1996, the music world was ripe for an album of sharp, catchy songs by a female singer-songwriter. Lilith Fair, the tour for women in the music, would gross $16 million in 1997. Colvin would be a main stage artist in all three years of the tour, playing alongside Liz Phair, Suzanne Vega, Sheryl Crow, Sarah McLachlan, Meshell Ndegeocello, Joan Osborne, Lisa Loeb, Erykah Badu, and many others. Strong female artists were not only making great music (when were they not?) but also having bold success. Alanis Morissette's Jagged Little Pill preceded Colvin's fourth recording by just 16 months.

Keep reading... Show less

Frank Miller locates our tragedy and warps it into his own brutal beauty.

In terms of continuity, the so-called promotion of this entry as Miller's “third" in the series is deceptively cryptic. Miller's mid-'80s limited series The Dark Knight Returns (or DKR) is a “Top 5 All-Time" graphic novel, if not easily “Top 3". His intertextual and metatextual themes resonated then as they do now, a reason this source material was “go to" for Christopher Nolan when he resurrected the franchise for Warner Bros. in the mid-00s. The sheer iconicity of DKR posits a seminal work in the artist's canon, which shares company with the likes of Sin City, 300, and an influential run on Daredevil, to name a few.

Keep reading... Show less
Pop Ten
Mixed Media
PM Picks

© 1999-2017 All rights reserved.
Popmatters is wholly independently owned and operated.