- Near destruction of rig by hammond smear
I never really did get into Transatlantic that much. They seemed to me, in many ways, the perfect example of the supergroup whose sum was less than its parts. So how did I end up deciding to write this review of a year old DVD from a band that never really did it for me? Youtube. Being the FLOWER KINGS FANBOY that I am, I’ve been looking for interviews with Roine Stolt on Youtube lately and I stumbled across one with all the Transatlantic members. After thoroughly enjoying the interview, out of the corner of my eye I spotted a link to a song from the Whirld Tour 2010 DVD. I just couldn’t fight the urge; the interview was great and my fingers couldn’t stop themselves from clicking the link. And so it was that my mind exploded and now I find myself with a copy of the DVD and twenty-two bucks poorer (albeit happier).
Transatlantic’s Whirlwind Tour 2010 DVD made me feel like a kid in a candy store. Somehow I felt that this fine performance of Stolt, Trewevas, Portnoy, Morse, and Gildenlow was the perfect showing of what their vision of Transatlantic’s music is: quality composition and a fantastic level of no-gimmicks-needed showmanship. Daniel, although stuck in the back, never ceased to amaze me with his world class voice and ability to be, in my opinion, the perfect hired gun for adding additional everything (vocals, synths, guitar, percussion, etc.). Pete’s bassline’s were spot on and always finding interesting grooves and runs. Mike’s drumming, while often quite a bit heavier than you’d find in most similar bands, always felt like it fit the part and added tons of energy to the set. Plus, seeing his vertically challenged figure crowd-surf literally all the way to the back of the theater after doing a hilarious death grunt joke on Morse made my day. I’ve never been a fan of Neal’s voice, so I’ll spare you my opinion there, however, Mr. Morse delivers with flying colors in the keys department, achieving a great dirty Hammond sound with mouth-watering smears galore and splendid all around aggressive playing. I seriously thought he was gonna knock his whole rig over when he was delivering some stunning jamming on “We All Need Some Light.” It was awesome.
For me, the biggest surprise and joy was Roine’s performance. He’s always been great with the Flower Kings, but I felt like he managed to top himself in just about all aspects of his performance here, bringing to the table a sound which is entirely distinct from his soloing style in TKF. His phrasing and sense of touch and dynamic were the best I’ve ever seen from him, each solo being beautifully executed with him knowing just which notes to milk. Most good performers play their notes perfectly; on this DVD, Mr. Stolt managed to always find the perfect notes and play them divinely. His subdued jazzy section right after the Portnoy drum solo on “Duel With the Devil” is a perfect example of his expressive but never forced playing. Furthermore, the choice of Stolt’s vocals on “We All Need Some Light” gave the piece just the beautifully haunting and majestically decrepit feel it needed to make an uplifting chorus that much more powerful.
While a marvel of a DVD, there were two things that could have been improved, in my opinion. Only a minor issue, but I felt like Neal’s tron and organ patches could have been mixed at a much more significant volume in order to add more depth to the band’s sound. They were somewhat drowned out for most of the film, adding just a subtle hint of texture rather than contributing to a richer, fuller sound. But, I understand that some people like their keyboards in the back, so, whatever. The next thing is a bit of a bothersome issue that either has to do with bad editing or shameless overdubbing. There were two moments during “The Whirlwind” where an instrument or voice clearly didn’t match up with what was being played. I hope and pray that this was just an audio/visual syncing mistake, because I think I stand with most prog fans when I say that I’d rather watch a live performance, not a music video. I’ll give the band the benefit of the doubt though.
Despite any small complaints, Whirld Tour 2010 makes a fantastic contribution to my DVD collection that I’m sure I will watch and enjoy over and over. Transatlantic’s above and beyond stage presence and positive vibe, coupled with the spectacular execution of these songs, make the show and the music really come to life. Their mix of classic rock with epically long progressive composition really came across strong with this group of guys who seem to just be out there having fun and jamming. Except that we were having just as much fun watching them, for three and a half hours, with only six songs. That, my friends, is what you call a feat.