One Track Mind: Steve Rothery Band, “The Old Man of the Sea” from Live In Rome (2014)

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Founding Marillion guitarist Steve Rothery was clearly in no mood to cool his heels until the September release of his solo project The Ghosts of Pripyat. Between then and now, he’s issuing Live in Rome, featuring concert recordings of songs from the Kickstarter-funded Ghosts as well as select Marillion cuts.

This CD/DVD combo, due on August 25, 2014 from InsideOut Music, finds Rothery performing for just the second time with a newly formed band and, even a cursory listen to their lithe, ruminative take on “Old Man of the Sea” tells you why he was in such a rush. Despite a lengthy stint with Marillion, something has clicked with these new faces. The new track references the atmospheric prog style that has come to define Marillion more recently, but it isn’t bound by that.

Given plenty of room to roam — “Old Man” alone clocks in at over 10 minutes — Rothery moves well outside of any latent expectations, stirring in open-ended jazz, scorching heavier asides and then, at roughly the eight-minute mark, a soaring anthemic riff that could have rattled the seats out of many an arena in another time and place.

Ghosts of Pripyat, named after a Ukrainian city that was abandoned days after the 1986 Chernobyl disaster, grew out of an assignment to write new music for last October’s Plovdiv International guitar festival — and an intention to create in a cinematic fashion. “The Old Man of the Sea” certainly meets that personal challenge, even as it sets the stage for what will somehow be Rothery’s first-ever solo release. Seems he can’t wait, either.

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