The ancient Greek god of music and poetry Apollo came to mind when ex-Dream Theater members Mike Portnoy and Derek Sherinian were looking to name their band, but thinking there may already be a band Apollo, they decided on Sons of Apollo, a name which encapsulates both the essence of the band and its members. Rumors surfaced in 2017 about a new supergroup formed by Portnoy and Sherinian and by October 2017 the secret project was announced along with the release of their debut album Psychotic Symphony (Inside Out Music/ Sony Music). In addition to Portnoy (drums) and Sherinian (keyboards) the progressive metal project boasts elite guitarist Ron “Bumblefoot” Thal (ex-Guns ‘N Roses), bassist Billy Sheehan (The Winery Dogs, Mr. Big, ex-David Lee Roth) and vocalist Jeff Scott Soto (ex-Journey, ex-Yngwie Malmsteen’s Rising Force).
On Thursday, May 04, Sons of Apollo performed at the Belasco Theater in Los Angeles just a few weeks ahead of their first worldwide tour. With an audience full of fans, friends and family, the hometown Belasco Theater show seemed a labor of love; a chance for the band’s friends and families to see them perform locally. Opening with God of the Son and Signs of the Time off their debut album, Jeff Scott Soto took command of the stage with his raw impassioned vocals. Soto came out fighting, covering the proximity of the stage and engaging with the audience. He was on top of it all until the second song when his wireless mic died, and for those few minutes you could sense the frustration. Road crew probably had a talking to and hopefully they’ll have this under control for the rest of the tour. For a vocalist like Soto, who gives it all in his performance, he shouldn’t have to worry about technical issues.
One of the most innovative guitarists today, Ron “Bumblefoot” Thal, suffered severe injuries from a car accident in 2011. The story of his road to recovery is remarkable as is his enviable prowess on the guitar. Taking a moment out of the SOA play list Thal delivered an eclectic version of The Pink Panther Theme by Henry Mancini with help from Portnoy and eventually the whole band. On his signature double-neck (fret & fretless) guitar, Thal not only delivered delicious licks but his strong vocals added great harmonies to Soto’s lead.
Sans band, Soto took the stage to perform The Prophet Song/Save Me by Queen, once again highlighting his strong vocal abilities and gift to hold an audience captivated. Soto, dripping in sweat, stood with one spotlight as he conducted the crowd to repeat his vocal riffs. On the double-neck bass, one-of-a-kind Sheehan displayed progressive bass licks during his solo. Not too many bassists can take on a solo and run with it, but with Sheehan both his playing style and showmanship is what makes him a standout. The most understated but significant band member, Derek Sherinian, showed off his talents during a mesmerizing solo on his behemoth stack of keyboards.
With additional songs from Dream Theater and a few covers, the band delivered a tight and engaging 2-hour set showcasing the band and members’ talents together and singularly. For the encore, the band riffed the opening to And the Cradle Will Rock by Van Halen, while Soto, now in the crowd, worked his way to the stage to perform a roof-raising rendition. If Thursday’s show is any indication, SOA is definitely the band to see this year, from a stellar lineup to crowd-pleasing performances you won’t want to miss.
CLICK HERE to view more pics from the show.
God of the Sun
Signs of the Time
Just Let Me Breathe (Dream Theater)
Bass solo ( Billy Sheehan )
Lost in Oblivion
The Prophet’s Song/ Save me (Queen) (vocal solo Jeff Scott Soto)
The Pink Panther Theme (Henry Mancini)
Keyboard Solo (Derek Sherinian)
Lines in the Sand (Dream Theater)
And the Cradle Will Rock (Van Halen)