Want some serious chops? Check. How about plenty of musical swagger? Check. In the mood for blazing instrumental versions of songs by Dream Theater, Planet X, Billy Cobham, Talas, and Jeff Beck? Well, this one has all that too. Live in Tokyo is the Blu-ray of a concert filmed in Japan on November 14, 2012 at the Zepp Tokyo, where Mike Portnoy (ex-Dream Theater, current The Winery Dogs, Transatlantic, Flying Colors), Billy Sheehan (The Winery Dogs, Mr. Big, ex-David Lee Roth & Talas), Tony MacAlpine (Planet X, Steve Vai, CAB, Ring of Fire), and Derek Sherinian (ex-Dream Theater, Planet X, Black Country Communion, Billy Idol, KISS, Yngwie Malmsteen, Alice Cooper) gathered to put on a display of jaw dropping musicianship that surely left the fans breathless. You'll find yourself in a similar state too after watching this sizzling 100 minute set. If tons of solos and shredding bores you, then read no further, but if this sort of thing is your cup of tea, then you won't find a better representation of 'chopz-zilla' anywhere out there. Proceed.
All four of these guys are complete virtuosos, so you would expect that their joining together would be pretty special, and it certainly is. The set list draws from the Dream Theater catalog, as well as the solo discography of MacAlpine, Sherinian, Planet X, Talas, as well as a few cool covers. Oh, and did I mention solos? Yeah, each gets a solo spot as well to amaze you even further. Portnoy is the ringmaster of this ensemble, and does all the conversing with the audience in between songs. Each tune played here is just mind boggling; you get a wild snippet of the Dream Theater epic "A Change of Seasons", scorching versions of MacAlpine solo classics "The Stranger" and "Birds of Prey", a red hot "Acid Rain" originally done by Liquid Tension Experiment, and really fun covers of Jeff Beck's "The Pump" and the Billy Cobham staple "Stratus". And, just forget about the band tackling the sick Planet X piece "Apocalypse 1470 B.C."...it's just immense and crazy technical, so much so that you'll be exhausted when they are done. They couldn't leave out "Shy Boy", a killer Talas song that Sheehan also brought to the David Lee Roth band, made even more musically outrageous here, and you also have the underrated Dream Theater gem "Lines in the Sand", a great vehicle for both Sherinian & Portnoy. Toss in a crushingly heavy "Nightmare Cinema" as well as "Hell's Kitchen", and you have over an hour and a half of insane musical delights.
Let's face it, these four are simply amazing players. MacAlpine is one of the most underrated guitar players on the face of the earth; his work in this concert is just off the charts, whether he is blazing away with insane sweep picking, neo-classical sweep tapping, funky jazz-fusion licks, or emotional bluesy runs, this guy never fails to impress. Sheehan too is a monster, and his ability to adapt to hard rock, metal, blues, jazz, and prog rock is amazing. Check out his killer solo on "The Farandole" and be prepared to be wowed. Portnoy holds it all together but also dazzles, and Mr. Sherinian trades away with MacAlpine on many occasions as well as adding all the right colors for these tunes. His solo spot is pretty outrageous as well for all the prog lovers out there. Four fabulous musicians, locked in, and perfectly in sync with each other. Dazzling stuff.
The high-definition quality of the Blu-ray is quite good, though the stage was swathed in a bright white light for the whole show, so the colors are not as rich as some of the other excellent Blu-ray discs we've seen from Eagle Rock in recent memory. Sound wise this one's a monster, so crank your home theater up to 11 and enjoy. Toss in a nice little booklet packed with photos and you have an excellent presentation here from the always dependable folks at Eagle Rock.
1) A Change Of Seasons: I. The Crimson Sunrise
2) Acid Rain
3) The Stranger
5) Apocalypse 1470 B.C.
6) Tony MacAlpine Guitar Solo
7) Been Here Before
8) Birds Of Prey (Billy's Boogie) / Billy Sheehan Bass Solo
9) The Farandole
10) The Pump
11) Mike Portnoy Drum Intro
12) Nightmare City
13) Hell's Kitchen
14) Derek Sherinian Keyboard Solo
15) Lines In The Sand
16) Shy Boy