14 November 2015

CD/DVD Review : Flying Colors – Second Flight: Live At The Z7 (Switzerland)


Release Date: Nov 13th 2015

Those of you familiar with Neal Morse and Mike Portnoy will be more than aware how busy these guys are, a new project/band is born, seemingly, every few weeks !!! Back in 2012, they got together with Guitarist Steve Morse (Deep Purple, Dixie Dregs),  and Bassist Dave LaRue (Dixie Dregs, Joe Satriani, Steve Vai) to record and tour what became their first album, simply called “Flying Colors”. The album was well received and, as expected, received a number of awards and accolades. Fusing Prog, Pop, Rock into an accessible collection of memorable tunes, the die was set and a tour followed shortly after, taking in the USA, Europe and UK. A live set was released – “Live In Europe”, recorded in Tilburg, which went straight to No.1 in the French charts and achieved success across Europe establishing the band well and truly. A second album was inevitable and so, in September of 2014, “Second Nature” was released, but this time the band was joined by a new lead vocalist by way of Casey McPherson (an up and coming singer/songwriter) – the fusion was complete and it is with this line-up that their second live set (Second Flight) has now been released !!

Featuring tracks from both albums, with three tracks in excess of 12 minutes, there ain’t no epics here, but the intention was to give a balanced view of the band thus far. Mike and Neal are set on podiums at the rear of the stage, while the 3 guitarists dominate front of stage – very similar to the stage set-up for Transatlantic !! Shot in 4k with 24 strategically placed cameras, this new live release is available in multiple formats including Blu-Ray, CD, DVD and Vinyl – even the purists are covered…

Audio across the board has been enhanced significantly by Rich Mouser (who has worked with a number of bands – Spock’s Beard, Transatlantic and Weezer to name but a few) using the very latest cutting edge technology – “Harmonic Phrase Analysis” apparently, to recreate the live “feel” from every point in the venue, including front row and behind the mixing desk and I can concur – the sound quality is awesome, more like this please !!!

Musicianship throughout, as you’d expect, is superb and every band member gets their chance to shine, I was particularly impressed with Dave LaRue’s Bass on “Forever In A Daze” – well funky. Mark King, eat ya’ heart out. Really, this band ain’t about solos, virtuoso and instrumental dexterity, it’s all about well crafted songs honed to perfection by a collection of musicians who don’t NEED to strut their stuff.

There’s something for everybody and if you’re looking for a way to introduce to your mate who’s not into Prog or ever heard of it, this is a very good place to start. There are a few slower songs (the acoustic “Colder Months” for example) , slow burners (“Peaceful Harbor”), full-on rock numbers (“Bombs Away” “Shoulda Coulda Woulda”) and in places I felt there was a hint of Coldplay, especially in the vocal region from Casey McPherson. There were a few times I was reminded of Transatlantic, especially when Neal Morse took over on lead vocals and despite the lack of epics, some of the material was quite complex and intricate – something for everyone. I do enjoy close vocal harmonies and this band is certainly not lacking on the vocal front – even Mike Portnoy joins in !!

Overall, a worthy addition to your collection and I, for one, look forward to their next outing in the UK. This new release from Flying Colors should be flying right into your stocking this Christmas, well worth checking out !!

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By The Progmeister

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