FLYING COLORS Shepherd’s Bush Empire, Friday 21st September 2012

A very decent turn out and a fair few of the audience were Beardfish fans who had a 45 minute support slot. They were touring in support of their new album ‘The Void’, which sees the band take a more prog metal direction, although they only played one song of the album ‘Voluntary Slavery’. An entertaining set with lots of musical snippets be it 70′s prog, some southern rock riffs or frantic instrumental workouts. Rikard Sjöblom was the focal point of the band, switching from keys to guitar, as well as handling the vocals (and looked like Jack Black at times!) , but that is take nothing away from the band who are high class musicians. For my personal tastes they veer too much into art/jazz rock at times but worth seeing live.

Flying Colors released their debut album earlier this year and this is their debut gig in the UK. The band’s line-up is pretty damn impressive with Mike Portnoy (Dream Theater/Adrenaline Mob), Neal Morse (Spock’s Beard), Casey McPherson (Alpha Rev/Endochine), Steve Morse (Deep Purple/Dixie Dregs) and Dave La Rue (Dixie Dregs). As for the gig? One of the best I have seen. From the opener ‘Blue Ocean’ through to the encore of ‘Infinite Fire’ (the album’s longest song!) the band were on top form.

Mike Portnoy did most of the between song patter and took lead vocals on two songs ‘Fool In My Heart’ and the Dream Theater cover ‘Repentance’. To fill the setlist they announced at the start of the night they would dip into one song from each of the band members past/present bands, although no Deep Purple tune for Steve Morse – I guess he was covered by the Dixie Dregs cover ‘Odyssey’.

Highlights? Casey McPherson’s haunting performance of Leonard Cohen’s ‘Hallelujah’ (made famous by the late Jeff Buckley), what a voice this man possesses. The band harmonies on the Queen/ELO influenced ‘Love Is What I am Waiting For’ and the hit single (well it would have been before the current chart rubbish) ‘Kayla’. Watching the musical talent on display was often breathtaking and Neal Morse seemed to be having a ball throwing himself into his keyboards playing and vocals. Steve Morse was effortlessly soloing and you can see why he has been such a revitalizing force in Deep Purple.

The band’s winning ingredient for me is that they have the prog rock solos and musicianship to please the prog fans but also have a keen ear for melody and add in some modern rock, notably with Casey McPherson’s vocals. For instance on ‘Forever In A Daze’ reminded me of Live.

Let’s hope they come back soon as they seem to have a great time on stage and the audience certainly did.

Jason Ritchie


Blue Ocean

Shoulda Coulda Woulda

Love Is What I’m Waiting For

Can’t Find a Way (Endochine cover)

The Storm

Odyssey (Dixie Dregs cover)

Forever in a Daze

Hallelujah (Leonard Cohen cover)

Better Than Walking Away


Fool In My Heart

Repentance (Dream Theater cover)

June (Spock’s Beard cover)

All Falls Down

Everything Changes


Infinite Fire

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