Flying colors – Islington Assembly Hall, London – 13th October 2014

flying colorsTonight’s gig was one I’d been looking forward to since it was first announced – the only UK show on the current Flying colors tour.  As with their previous tour, it’s a short European tour with just one UK date, and having missed them on their last tour, then I was really looking forward to this one.

Before Flying Colors though, we had a support act – John Wesley.  He’s an American guitarist/singer/songwriter who has worked with Mike Tramp, Fish, Porcupine Tree and others over the years. He was certainly a good choice to support Flying Colors – he certainly went down well with the crowd, and his music certainly had a Prog feel to it.  The songs were quite long and drawn out, but not excessively so, and were guitar driven.  For one of the songs his bass player switched to playing a Chapman stick which is an odd looking instrument with arond 10-12 strings and resembles a guitar with no body, just a very long wide neck, and it was certainly interesting to see it being played.  A good start to the evening.

If you don’t know who Flying Colors are, they’re the Prog supergroup formed of Mike Portnoy, Steve Morse, Neal Morse, Dave LaRue and Casey McPherson.  Their two albums (“Flying colors” & “Second nature”) are both fantastic, and tonight’s set included songs from both the albums.

Once they took to the stage, the cold wet weather and long wait in the rain were soon forgotten as Flying Colors put on a masterclass on how to do a perfect gig. It really was an amazing gig and the time simply flew by as we listened to and watched a superb performance.  Musically it really was flawless – these guys are all amazing musicians and just made it look easy.  On stage, the band were clearly having fun, and all moved around, played with each other, laughed and generally looked to be having a great time.  Despite being stuck at the back behind the drums, Mike Portnoy wasn’t going to be left out and often stood up as he played, interacted with the crowd and the other band members, and for some reason produced a cucumber which seemed to be a running joke (too much time on tour clearly affects the sanity of band members) !

There is a lot of variety in the music, from soft smooth songs such as Kayla, to the much heavier “shoulda woulda coulda”.  For most of the show Casey played electric guitar while singing, but for “one love forever” he swapped to an acoustic guitar, and was joined at the front of the stage by Neal Morse and Mike Portnoy who sang alongside him.   It was intresting to see how talented and versatile the band are – while Casey was on lead vocals most of the time, at other times Neal Morse was doing the lead vocals and at other times it was Mike Portnoy on lead vocals.  All of them really are amazingly talented musicians.

For the Alpha Rev cover, “Colder months”, Casey performed it solo, just him singing and playing acoustic guitar while the rest of the band left the stage.  He then segued straight into “Peaceful harbor”, and as he sang, the rest of the band rejoined him on stage and joined in mid song.
The band ended the show with “Mask machine”, the single from the new album and one hell of a track.  Inevitably there was an encore. – “Infinite fire”.

I had high expectations for tonight’s gig – the albums are so good that I was expecting something special, but Flying Colors didn’t just meet my expectations – instead they went far beyond that and gave us an unforgettable night of music.


Open up your eyes
Bombs away
Shoulda coulda woulda
The fury of my love
A place in your world
Forever in a daze
One love forever
Colder months
Peaceful harbor
The storm
Cosmic symphony
Mask machine
Infinite fire

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About Ant May

I spend half my life at gigs or festivals and the other half writing the reviews and editing photos, and somehow find time for a full time job too. Who needs sleep - I've got coffee.