Fans of progressive rock know who Steve Rothery is. If there were any justice in the world, Rothery would be as well known as Steve Howe, Steve Hackett, Alex Lifeson or John Petrucci. But even if Rothery isn't as well known, his resume with Marillion and now his upcoming solo album prove he is every bit as talented. "Live In Rome" is a
two-CD/DVD set that was only the second performance of the Steve Rothery Band. The performance includes songs from his upcoming solo album "The Ghosts of Pripyat," which will be out in September, plus a selection of classic Marillion songs.
The first disc is all new music and it all translates well live. Each song is an instrumental and in between songs, Rothery explains the meaning of each song. He compares them to being little movies that should paint a picture via music. "White Pass" is about a treacherous
mountain pass during the American Gold Rush in the 19th century. It starts with drumming that simulates the sound of an old train and the barren cold is translated perfectly by Rothery's cold Fender tone. "Yesterday's Hero" is a tribute to Rothery's
late stepfather who recently passed away. He was a veteran of World War II and
the song is about people who have been forgotten over the course of time. The song is bright and positive, yet somewhat somber. The entire first disc makes it quite clear that "The Ghost of Pripyat"
is an album prog fans will need to own.
Disc 2 is mostly Marillion classics. All of these songs rank among my all-time favorites by the band. The band executes the songs perfectly, with Rothery ripping through his classic solos. And now the problem:
the vocals by Manuela Milanese and Alessandro Carmassi. Neither are Steve
Hogarth or Fish, and it shows. There are some flat notes, and since English is
clearly not their first language, the lyrics are not always accurate. I would never try to sing an Italian song so I can appreciate the effort, but the bottom line is that none of these versions will make you forget the original. Rothery should consider getting a permanent vocalist if the band tours.
Overall, this is a great live record with amazing performances by a very talented band. Hopefully people will recognize the
true greatness of Steve Rothery.