TRANSATLANTIC – the Prog Supergroup of Neal Morse, Mike Portnoy, Roine Stolt & Pete Trewavas – recently announced the release of a new concert set entitled ‘The Final Flight: Live At L’Olympia’ for the 17th February 2023. It was recorded and filmed in France on the last stop of a tour to promote the band’s fifth and most audacious album to date, ‘The Absolute Universe’. This was the multinational group’s first outing in eight years.
Released in February 2021 to unanimous praise, ‘The Absolute Universe’ came in two alternate formats; an abridged 64-minute record known as ‘The Breath Of Life’, and a companion piece entitled ‘Forevermore’ that added a further four songs, clocking in at an hour and a half. Though the foundations of both were shared, each format featured lyrics and music independent of the other.
However, when Transatlantic finally hit the road they opted to perform a third format of the album, a full-bells-and-whistles, 96-minute Blu-ray culmination of both takes known as ‘The Ultimate Edition’ that had been released in 5.1 surround sound. Following that segment of the show Transatlantic took a short intermission and returned to the stage for a rollercoaster trawl through the remainder of their lavish catalogue. From the first note of ‘Overture (The Absolute Universe)’ through to the medley based around the first two Transatlantic albums that closes the evening, the performance comprised 3 hours of music in total.
“Ever since the start of this band we have played for three hours, so that’s something we’re all used to,” states drummer Mike Portnoy, who grins whilst describing his own experience as “butt-numbing”. However, Roine Stolt is ready to admit that this time felt very slightly different.
“It was a great tour,” acknowledges the guitarist and multi-musician, “but when you include our spot at Morsefest [where besides performing ‘The Absolute Universe’ the band also revisited their 2009 album ‘The Whirlwind’ and revised a cover of Procol Harum’s ‘In Held (’Twas) In I’ that had featured on their debut from 2000, ‘SMPTe’] I felt the challenge of learning, or re-learning, three-and-a-half hours of music before leaving Sweden. Now that I am getting slightly older, I was a little worried about playing for that long – it requires a lot of concentration: ‘Is this one in 7/8 or 9/8? Maybe we’ll play it in 13/8 and in a different key?’ But of course, once we got out there onto the stage, those thoughts went straight out of the window.”
With a chuckle, vocalist and keyboard wizard Neal Morse reveals that as the tour found its feet Transatlantic threw an additional curveball. “We started playing songs slightly differently to the way you’ve heard them on ‘The Ultimate Edition”, he grins. “So what you get with this live album is similar, but essentially it’s a fourth version [of the record]. When you play live, from night to night it helps to keep things fresh by jamming a bit and changing things up as you go. There are a few examples of that, for instance, the beginning of the last section that starts with ‘Belong’ is quite different than the record – partly because we couldn’t remember it! So we made up a new structure.”
“We’re always as well prepared as we can be but in a way Transatlantic is kind of a show band” points out bassist Pete Trewavas. “Playing alongside Mike who is a powerhouse on the drums, there is this raw power. If he wants to raise the energy that’s what we do. We’re all taking solos here and there, though we get the songs across we’re all showing off as much as we can”.
Filmed by Paul Green (who also shot their ‘Whirld Tour 2010: Live in London release), and mixed by longtime collaborator Rich Mouser, this set will be available as a Special Edition 3CD+Blu-ray Digipak (incl. 5.1 surround sound) & as a Gatefold 180g 4LP release. Both feature artwork by Thomas Ewerhard & photos by Nidhal Marzouk.
1. The Absolute Universe Intro
3. Reaching For The Sky
4. Higher Than The Morning
5. The Darkness In The Light
6. Take Now My Soul
8. Rainbow Sky
9. Looking For The Light
10. The World We Used To Know
11. MP Intro
12. The Sun Comes Up Today
13. Love Made A Way (Prelude)
14. Owl Howl
17. Lonesome Rebel
18. Can You Feel It
19. Looking For The Light (Reprise)
20. The Greatest Story Never Ends
21. Love Made A Way
22. The Whirlwind Suite
23. NM & RS Intro
24. We All Need Some Light
25. The Final Medley
Line-Up (on this recording):
Neal Morse – Keyboards, Acoustic Guitar & Vocals
Mike Portnoy – Drums & Vocals
Roine Stolt – Guitar & Vocals
Pete Trewavas – Bass & Vocals
Ted Leonard – Guitar, Keyboards, Percussion & Vocals
Pre-order now here: https://Transatlantic.lnk.to/TheFinalFlight-LiveAtLOlympia