Gig review: FLYING COLORS – Islington Assembly Hall, London,13 October 2014

Flying Colors - Islington Assembly Hall, London, 13 October 2014

Due to the queuing system for the gig (they really need to have more than one person manning the ticket desk) I missed most of the support set from guitarist John Wesley (he’s worked with Porcupine Tree, Fish and more recently Sound Of Contact). What I did catch was impressive, particularly his guitar playing.

Flying Colors were near the end of their whistle stop European tour promoting their new album ‘Second Nature’ and they played a good portion of the new album tonight. Starting with the blissful ‘Open Your Eyes’ there were a few sound issues and bizarre moment of the night was Mike Portnoy attempting to drum with a cucumber! Said cucumber appeared throughout the first half of the set before exiting stage left. ‘Bombs Away’ was next, another one off the new album and then ‘Kayla’, a song so damn catchy and a firm favourite with the fans.

‘Shoulda Coulda Woulda’ allows Mike Portnoy to unleash his inner metal drummer, pounding away at the kit ably supported by bassist Dave LaRue. Dave LaRue quietly goes about his playing on stage but he is an integral member of the band and their sound.

Flying Colors - Islington Assembly Hall, London, 13 October 2014

Casey McPherson has a fantastic voice and he doesn’t need the frontman patter as Mike Portnoy has enough between song talk and enthusiasm for a dozen frontmen! Casey’s vocals combined well with Neal Morse on ‘One Love Forever’ and with Mike Portnoy also on backing vocals, this gives the band a strong set of harmonies that sound just as good live as on record.

The band really hit their stride by the time they played ‘Peaceful Harbour’ (which was preceded by Casey McPherson singing solo ‘Colder Months’, a song from his previous band Alpha Rev). They would have happily played all night I am sure, particularly as they seemed to have had a less than smooth trip from the previous gig in Switzerland.

Flying Colors - Islington Assembly Hall, London, 13 October 2014

‘The Storm’ off their debut album was next, complete with some tasty playing by Steve Morse.  Compared to his live shows with Deep Purple, Steve Morse takes a backseat in this band quite content to keep reeling off solos and riffs without taking centre stage.

The epic ‘Cosmic Symphony’ from the new album passed by all to quickly and a rousing version of ‘Mask Machine’ ended the set on a real high. Sadly at 11:10pm public transport beckoned, although I am reliably informed the band encored with ‘Infinite Fire’.

Flying Colors - Islington Assembly Hall, London, 13 October 2014

Travelling up to the gig chatting to my good friends we discussed why Flying Colors were not playing bigger venues and it could well be that they are too pop at times for prog fans and the more epic prog songs put off others!

Well, cast aside your musical genres and enjoy a band at the peak of their musical powers, who not only have the musicianship but the all important songs. Really hope they return to the UK soon and in the meantime we have the new album to enjoy.

Review by Jason Ritchie
Photos by Laurence Harvey

Open Up Your Eyes; Bombs Away; Kayla; Shoulda Coulda Woulda; The Fury of My Love; A Place in Your World; Forever in a Daze; One Love Forever; Colder Months; Peaceful Harbour; The Storm; Cosmic Symphony; Mask Machine Encore: Infinite Fire

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