Sons of Apollo Live Up To Expectations at the Varsity
SONS OF APOLLO
SPECIAL GUEST: FELIX MARTIN
VENUE: VARSITY THEATER
MAY 13, 2018
All content by: Patrick Dunn
There is still plenty happening around the Hard Rock music scene worth getting excited about and SONS OF APOLLO should be at the top of your list. Dedicated fans of Progressive Rock were intently dialed into news of a Mike Portnoy / Derek Sherinian project in the works, but may not have been expecting talent as big as Billy Sheehan, Ron "Bumblefoot" Thal and Jeff Scott Soto to complete this powerful union. Their current tour in support of debut album "Psychotic Symphony" fortunately included a 5/13 Twin Cities stop at the Varsity Theater. The band's nearly 2 hour marathon performance included live versions of all their recorded material plus a few atypical covers and plenty of extended bonus soloing.
Their set list remains pretty consistent from town to town and has them walking onstage to Van Halen's instrumental "Intruder" before launching into their Deep Purple inspired first track "God of the Sun". It's an effective show opener driven by a catchy high speed run that Bumblefoot, Sheehan and Sherinian triple up on while Portnoy adds toughness with a rapid fire double bass drum fill. Soto's vocal came in sounding fresh and powerful and is such a perfect fit for this music. His experience fronting a band also fulfill's a necessary element of stage presence that kept the audience both entertained and engaged.
Bumblefoot proved to be a dominate force in virtually every song as well as being super fun to watch playing an unfathomable amount of notes and pulling unworldly sounds from his giant custom double-neck guitar. Sheehan, also donning a double-neck, played a style of rock bass that only he can and offered up a dizzying solo coined "not safe for air bass". No doubt Sherinian showed off some some great chops on keys, but I'm especially impressed by his sound selections that really shape the mood on many of their compositions. He also pulled off a really cool solo incorporating Eddie Van Halen's "Spanish Fly".
In addition to being a crowd favorite, Portnoy is such a talent behind the kit and clearly a driving force creatively. His drumming style is immediately recognizable and hearing it outside of Dream Theater reminds you of how key his playing was to their sound. For Soto's solo moment, Portnoy challenged the audience, although small, to prove they are mighty "just like Ronnie James Dio". I'm happy to report that Minneapolis kicked ass and provided a good lead-in to Soto's re-creation of Freddie Mercury's vocal break on Queen's "The Prophet Song".
"Coming Home" was wisely saved for a powerful encore finish to the set. The song was chosen for the band's first video release as it is a good overall representation of their sound and energy.
God of the Sun
Signs of the Time
Just Let Me Breathe (Dream Theater)
Bass Solo - Billy Sheehan
Lost in Oblivion
The Prophet's Song / Save Me (Queen)
The Pink Panther Theme (Henry Mancini)
Keyboard Solo - Derek Sherinian
Lines in the Sand (Dream Theater)
Happy Trails (Roy Rogers)