01 October 2018

Gig review – Sons of Apollo – Islington, London 28.09.18

Sons of Apollo – Islington Assembly Hall – Friday 28th September 2018

Whilst waiting to interview a certain Mr Derek Sherinian, the keyboard wizard of Sons of Apollo. I had the privilege to watch a load of photos being taken on the steps of Islington Registry office next door of a couple who had just been married. As the confetti and cheers all drifted away I was beckoned into the back rooms of the Assembly halls and met Derek in a room which was not dissimilar to a school canteen. As gentlemen of a certain age (we were born in the same year) Derek looked good, FFS, he looked really good, I must really up my game, He was courteous, attentive and answered my questions genuinely. We talked about the gigs over the decades where I have seen him live, the Alice Cooper tours, the Kiss Revenge tour (he was back stage) and with Billy Idol. It was obvious that he was loving what he has done over his career, the current tour, band and the feedback they were all receiving. I asked him if he liked fame, to which he replied that he was not a rock star but moreover just a known musician. There was no ego, but a real need to keep it real. Refreshing. I have met many musicians over the years, some I liked, some I really didn’t, Mr Sherinian was the former.

The support band was Schiermann , a three piece heavy instrumental prog outfit, fronted by Chris Schiermann , a bald headed , bearded giant of a fella, so big his guitar looked half size. Physically he remined me of Kane Roberts (Alice Cooper circ 1986-89) but there the similarity ends. Mr Schiermann and his band mates were clearly talented musicians. The music was not dissimilar to early Rush, Pallas and IQ but heaver and faster. I got the impression that Chris Schiermann is on a mission to bring his music to the masses. The band has ability, of that there is no doubt, but is there an audience out there for it? By the reaction of the crowd at the front, I think there just may be.

Above the stage of the Assembly hall hangs Islington Councils coat of arms and motto ‘Dues Per Omnia’ …God pervades all things. The lights went down and onto stage walked the five members of Sons of Apollo to rapturous cheers from the near capacity 1000 crowd.

The now famed double headed guitars of Ron “Bumblefoot” Thal and Billy Sheehan took stages left and right and all night bounced off each other whilst Mr Mike Portnoy on drums, said Mr Sherinian on keyboards and Jeff Scott Soto up front made the rest of SoA.

The band were touring their debut long player (released Oct 2017) ‘ Psychotic Symphony’ which was played in full (not Figaro’s whore?) and 5 covers including two tracks from Portnoy/Sherinian era Dream Theatre , Lines in the sand and Just let me breath as well as another two Queen covers , Save me and outrageously underrated The Prophet’s song off the 1975 master piece A night at the Opera . They also threw in a snippet of the Pink Panther and a riotous encore with Van Halen’s ..and the cradle will rock.

It was much more than a master class of technical musicianship, it was 5 players on top of their game enjoying what they were doing, whether it was to 1000 people in Islington, 10,000 in Greenwich or 100 in the club, they loved playing for themselves and for the crowd who in turn loved being a part of the moment.

The highlight for me was Alive and I need to mention that geezer Mr Sherinian again for his keyboard solo.  I did wonder if he was a frustrated guitarist as he makes those keys sound like a fret board, but I dawned on me that he isn’t frustrated at all, he is in fact in his own heaven, and man is he good at what he does.

After the final song of the evening coming home the band came out to take their well-deserved bows under the coat of arms motto ‘Deus Per Omnia’ which could easily be now translated as Apollo pervades all things, as the new gods of heavy Prog have arrived.

They came, they played and they conquered.

Apollo my old mate, your boys have done good.

Set List

God of the sun

Signs of the time

Divine Addiction

Just let me breath

Labyrinth

The Prophet’s song

Save me

Alive

The Pink Panther theme

Opus Maximus

Lines in the sand

(encore)

And the cradle will rock

Coming home