"If you're into short songs, you probably came to the wrong place," Neal Morse tells the enthusiastic crowd at the 013 Club in Tilburg, Holland, after the applause dies down for the 26-minute, five-part "Duel With the Devil," Transatlantic's opening number on Live in Europe. Indeed, by the time the band wraps the next song, "My New World," 45 minutes have elapsed on the two-CD/two-DVD package, which includes a total of just six songs.
Recorded on November 12, 2001, and released as a postmortem for one of progressive-rock's few true supergroups — drummer Mike Portnoy (Dream Theater) has gone on record saying Morse's 2002 departure from Spock's Beard to make music of a less-secular nature also marked the end of Transatlantic, "as I wouldn't possibly consider continuing it without him" — Live in Europe sounds more like a band project than 2002's Live in America (meaning there are fewer cover tunes and more of Transatlantic's substantial original material). Which makes watching and listening to this set — despite a few minor vocal miscues and strained voices, plus heavy blue and green tints on the DVD — all the more bittersweet.
Even though the focus here is on the five epics, the most moving and dramatic performance is also the shortest. "We All Need Some Light" comes across even more poignant two months removed from September 11, 2001, than it did on Bridge Across Forever, released earlier that year. Morse, wearing a red New York Yankees jersey, recounts the sadness that shrouded New York City in the wake of the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center before gently easing into the song with his acoustic guitar before the rest of the band joins in on the hauntingly beautiful and soothing chorus, a prayer for those suffering in silence half a world away.
With Americans Morse and Portnoy flanking Swedish guitarist Roine Stolt (The Flower Kings) and British bassist Pete Trewavas (Marillion) — with Swedish guest musician and vocalist Daniel Gildenlow (Pain of Salvation) smack-dab in the middle — Transatlantic fills out the huge 013 stage. Even though Morse has been accused of dominating the band, each player is allowed to show off his considerable musical and vocal talents here. Portnoy's voice is surprisingly steady, and Stolt seems to put more effort into his parts here than he sometimes does in his main band. What's more, the players' enthusiasm is healthy and catchy. Witness Morse's facial gyrations and body language, Trewavas' animated boyish determination, Stolt's geniune smiles, Portnoy's spiritual transcendence. It's a shame these four giant musicians — after recording two studio albums and two live albums — will likely never make music together again.
1) Duel With the Devil (26:00)
2) My New World (16:20)
3) We All Need Some Light (6:41)
4) Suite Charlotte Pike Medley (30:55)
Running Time (79:56)
1) Stranger in Your Soul (30:36)
2) All of the Above (30:20)
Running Time (60:56)
Total Running Time (140:52)
Note: The DVD also includes a January 2001 performance of Pink Floyd's "Shine On You Crazy Diamond" at the NAMM show in Los Angeles, a tour documentary and a photo gallery.