Live albums are tricky to review. If you've never heard any of the music, you can just review them like you would a studio album. But that seems pointless since the people most interested in live albums are fans of the artist releasing them. Transatlantic have released as many live albums as studio albums, since they release one for each tour they do. "KaLIVEoscope" is the latest live album for the tour supporting "Kaleidoscope," which came out earlier in the year. Rather than bother you with how the songs are, I'll just focus on what makes this album different.
The band is as tight live as they are in the studio and prove they can handle a three-hour setlist. The album is quite a marathon or an endurance test, as drummer Mike Portnoy states between songs. That's one of the oddities of the band. Portnoy takes the role of frontman and does the primary interacting with the audience. He is charming but still awkward at times, since he really isn't a frontman. One would assume Neal Morse would do the talking, and he does now and then. The performance underscores something I've noticed: the band is the
"Neal and Mike Show" at times. They carry that over to Neal's solo material and Flying Colors.
Another change from the studio albums and even past live albums is that Enchant and Spock's Beard vocalist Ted Leonard supports the band on vocals, guitar and keyboards, helping them fill out the sound. Pain of Salvation mainman Daniel Gildenlow normally fills this role, but he was battling an illness at the time. Ted is a great singer and even gets to take a lead vocal now and then, like on "We All Need Some Light" where he sings a few lines. The songs tend to stick to the album versions, the exceptions being the medleys.
The band does a good job getting the best out of "The Whirlwind," which normally pushes an hour but they are able to truncate it to half that.
for me is the third disc, which starts with a nice guitar duet between Neal and Roine Stolt and then moves onto
three outstanding covers. The band is joined by legendary Focus leader Thijs van Leer for
two classic songs by the band, "Sylvia" and "Hocus Pocus." Since the show took place in Tilburg, it definitely was a treat for the crowd to have Van Leer come out and perform with the band. And he can still yodel the way he did when he was younger! His flute playing is also stellar.
Overall, if you are a fan of Transatlantic, you've probably already purchased this album and you aren't going to be surprised or disappointed in the least. The band sounds great and are clearly having a great time.