A new supergroup featuring Tony MacAlpine, Billy Sheehan, Derek Sherinian and Mike Portnoy reinvigorates some of the best moments from their separate musical histories, even as they make new ones.
The 95-minute Live in Tokyo (recorded during a November 2012 show at Zepp Tokyo, and due today from Eagle Rock) is particularly notable for the way it draws out a new appreciation for the work of Sherinian and Sheehan.
Sheehan contributes two tracks (the fleet “Farandole” and sizzling “Shy Boy,” which features the concert’s lone vocal) from his underrated band Talas — a power trio that opened for Van Halen in the early 1980s. (Sheehan would, of course, later work with David Lee Roth before a successful turn in Mr. Big.) Meanwhile, Sherinian (Black Country Communion, Dream Theater) is showcased on the brilliantly mysterious “Atlantis, Part 1: Apocalypse 1470 B.C.,” as well as “Been Here Before” and “Nightmare Cinema” — the last of which moves with dizzying ease from a monstrous opening beat to the outer edges of space.
MacAlpine (a Steve Vai alum) takes center stage for the soaring “The Stranger,” while thunderous updates on Billy Cobham’s ageless “Stratus” and Jeff Beck’s “The Pump” explore some of the band’s foundational influences along the way.
The Live in Tokyo set is rounded out by a trio of Dream Theater songs (the opening “A Change Of Seasons: I The Crimson Sunrise,” “Hell’s Kitchen” and “Lines in the Sand”) and a take on “Acid Rain” from Liquid Tension Experiment — a Dream Theater offshoot band that also featured Jordan Rudess and Tony Levin.