This is not a side project, the band has made that clear and one way to prove that Sons of Apollo is a band is to tour and they did. But the show they decided to record wasn’t just a tour show, Nope! It was so much more. And it needed to be. They needed to capture the true essence of what this band is about and I have to say, I believe they did that and then some. They recorded the show back on September 22, 2018 at The Ancient Roman Amphitheater in Plovdiv Bulgaria and what a beautiful setting it is. Worthy of the Sons of the God Apollo. And the show couldn’t just be the band playing, Nope. It needed a little something extra so they brought in the Plovdiv Orchestra and a choir nicely named for this show as the Psychotic Symphony. This isn’t a band playing their songs with a symphony like so many bands, this is different, fresh and exciting.
You get it all packaged in a 3 CD set, that is right…3 CDs cover the whole entire show. Over 2 1/2 hours of rock & roll & prog bliss!! And if that isn’t enough, they throw in a DVD of the entire show as well. And the DVD is really where it is at in my book. Listening to the CD is great and you will enjoy the show, but when you watch it live and see these guys in action, Holy Shit!! These guys can play and they put on a master class of what musicianship really is. With Jeff Scott Soto on vocals, Mike Portnoy and drums, Derek Sherinian on Keyboards, Billy Sheehan on bass and Ron “Bumblefoot” Thal on guitar, these are some of the best in the field and they show you how it is done.
The show is split up in to three parts, thus 3 CDs. The first CD is only the band playing their songs and they open with ‘Pyshcotic Syphony’s’ opening track ‘God of the Sun” it is a bombastic and technically brilliant track and the boys do not disappoint. It is 12 minutes of a band doing what they do best. They then jump in to “Signs of the Time” and take it up a notch, but it is the keyboard opening of “Divine Addiction” with its obvious Deep Purple tribute the band really starts to settle in and slay the crowd for the rest of the night. Then you get a little surprise with the band playing “That Metal Show Theme Song” which was actually written by Bumblefoot.
Things really get cooking with “Just Let Me Breathe” (a Dream Theater Cover) which sees Bumblefoot take over the singing from Jeff for a verse and of course Jeff acts all surprised, but we know it is planned. Ron can sing by the way!! Billy Sheehan gets his moment in the spotlight with his own solo and it is common knowledge that he is a stellar player and he doesn’t disappoint. The band comes back out and totally explodes with the song “Lost in Oblivion” and one of my favorites from their only album so far. Jeff Scott Soto gets a solo as he does his best Freddie Mercury tribute and has fun with the crowd and the give him all the energy right back. He covers “The Prophet Song” and “Save Me” and he shows why he is one of my favorite vocalists.
The band goes in to the track “Alive” which is a straight ahead rocker and one of their more melodic tracks. Then Ron takes over again but this time he goes nuts doing the Pink Panther Theme song which is totally out of left field and a fun change up. The end the first part of the show with the epic song “Opus Maximus” and this is the band doing what they do best. It feels like a jam session. I don’t really like this on the studio album, but here, in this context, I could watch these guys play all day long and they tear it up. The band takes an intermission to set up for the next part of the show.
The 2nd part of the show and the 2nd CD is the band playing with the orchestra and choir and this is mostly covers because the band has only one album at this point. They kick it off with Led Zeppelin’s “Kashmir” and I will admit it is not my favorite Jeff vocal performance, but it is still solid. Things get better when they go in to Rainbow’s “Gates of Babylon” and it all sounds so great with the backing of the orchestra. They can’t do all covers so they do have one of their own songs next as they play “Labyrinth” which is another song I didn’t like on the studio album, but again, context. Live these guys do no wrong.
Next up is Aerosmith’s “Dream On” and Ozzy’s “Diary of a Madman”, but for me it is the next track that really is done to perfection. Pink Floyd’s “Comfortably Numb” sees not one great vocal performance, but two as Mike Portnoy takes on The Doctor while Jeff handles the rest, but it is Bumblefoot’s solo that is just totally killer. Damn!! If that wasn’t great enough, the next song is one the orchestra and choir work in perfectly. They tackle Queen’s ‘The Show Must Go On”. This might be another of Jeff’s finest performances of the night as he nails this one. The backing choir adds so much to this as well. Really spectacular.
Then we get more Dream Theater as they do “Hell’s Kitchen” and “Lines in the Sand” both written by Derek Sherinian. But the best thing about these two tracks is that stuck in the middle is a Derek keyboard solo…yes, keyboard solo. I will go on record and say it is the absolutely BEST keyboard solo I have heard or seen. Derek is a master of his craft. His solo included 2 Eddie Van Halen solos done on keyboard…”Eruption” and “Spanish Fly”…and all I can say is DAMN!!! Especially when he walks around his keyboard to the back side and plays the song backwards and still perfectly. I get chills just thinking about it. And that ends the show…but there is still one more disc.
The third CD is the encore which kicks off with more Eddie Van Halen as Bumblefoot gets his guitar solo which has a little bit of “Mean Street” in it. I would’ve liked a longer solo because he was fantastic as he was playing both of the necks on the double neck guitar at the same time. One was fretless and the other not and he was showing why he is one of the great ones. The band kicked in to Van Halen’s “And the Cradle Will Rock” and Jeff totally can pull off David Lee Roth (minus the high jumps) as he sounded great. A high energy song that got the crowd pumped back up for the show closer with the band’s song “Coming Home” and the boys brought it home and brought down the house. A perfect end to a perfect evening and a 2 1/2 hour show done by the Sons of Apollo.
The CD of the live show is great…no doubt, but you miss all the activity on stage and what these guys are doing and that alone is worth watching the DVD. To see Billy slap that bass, Ron tear it up on the guitar, Derek’s flippingly fast fingers fly over those keys, Mike make drumming sound so great and look so effortlessly and then see Jeff’s interaction with the crowd and the band is all meant to be seen to get the full effect of a Sons of Apollo live show. Not all the covers were stellar, but all the band’s songs were fantastic. These guys put on a show and didn’t disappoint and I hate I didn’t get to see it live while it happened. This is definitely worth getting if you are a fan of any of these guys. My Overall Score is a 4.5 out of 5.0 Stars. Crank this one baby!!
UP NEXT: SONS OF APOLLO – ‘MMXX’ (2020)
THE JEFF SCOTT SOTO SERIES:
- Panther – ‘Panther’ (1986) – recorded in 1984
- Yngwie Malmsteen’s Rising Force – ‘Rising Force’ (1984)
- Yngwie Malmsteen’s Rising Force – ‘Marching Out’ (1985)
- Kuni – ‘Lookin’ For Action’ (1988)
- Kryst the Conqueror – ‘Deliver Us From Evil’ (1989) / ‘Soldiers of Light: The Complete Recordings (2019)
- Eyes – ‘Eyes’ (1990)
- Eyes – “Nobody Said It Was Easy” (1990) – 7″ Single – Bonus Edition
- Talisman – ‘Talisman’ (1990)
- Talisman – “I’ll Be Waiting” (1990) – 7″ Single – Bonus Edition
- Skrapp Mettle – ‘Sensitive’ (1991)
- Axel Rudi Pell – ‘Eternal Prisoner’ (1992)
- Bakteria – ‘Deficate! Suffocate! Mutilate! Masturbate!’ (1992 / 2009)
- Eyes – ‘Windows of the Soul’ (1993)
- Talisman – ‘Genesis’ (1993)
- Axel Rudi Pell – ‘The Ballads’ (1993)
- Biker Mice From Mars – ‘Biker Mice From Mars (Soundtrack)’ (1993)
- Takara – ‘Eternal Faith’ (1993)
- Talisman – ‘5 Out Of 5 (Live in Japan)’ (1994)
- Talisman – ‘Humanimal’ (1994)
- Axel Rudi Pell – ‘Between the Walls’ (1994)
- Gary Schutt – ‘Sentimetal’ (1994)
- Jeff Scott Soto – ‘Love Parade’ (1994)
- Axel Rudi Pell – ‘Made in Germany (Live)’ (1995)
- Takara – ‘Taste of Heaven’ (1995)
- Talisman – ‘Life’ (1995)
- Axel Rudi Pell – ‘Black Moon Pyramid’ (1996)
- Human Clay – ‘Human Clay’ (1996)
- Talisman – ‘Best of’ (1996)
- Axel Rudi Pell – ‘Magic’ (1997)
- Human Clay – ‘U4IA’ (1997)
- Boogie Knights – ‘Welcome to the Jungle Boogie’ (1997)
- Takara – ‘Blind in Paradise’ (1998)
- Talisman – ‘Truth’ (1998)
- ‘Rock Star: Music from the Motion Picture (Soundtrack)’ – Various Artists (2001)
- Humanimal – ‘Humanimal’ (2002)
- Humanimal – Find My Way Home: Limited Edition E.P. (2002)
- Jeff Scott Soto – ‘Holding On E.P.’ (2002)
- Jeff Scott Soto – ‘Prism’ (2002)
- Talisman – ‘Live at Sweden Rock Festival’ (2002)
- Jeff Scott Soto – ‘JSS Live at the Gods 2002’ (2003)
- Talisman – ‘Cats & Dogs’ (2003)
- Jeff Scott Soto – ‘Believe in Me E.P.’ (2004
- Jeff Scott Soto – ‘Lost in the Translation’ (2004)
- Jeff Scott Soto – ‘Live at the Queen Convention 2003’ (2004)
- Soul SirkUS – ‘World Play’ (2004/2005)
- Talisman – ‘Five Men Live’ (2005)
- Talisman – ‘World’s Best Kept Secret DVD (2005)
- Jeff Scott Soto – ‘Essential Ballads’ (2006)
- Journey – ‘Live from Atlanta (Bootleg)’ (2006)
- Talisman – ‘7’ (2006)
- Talisman – The Albums Ranked Worst to First
- Jeff Scott Soto – ‘B-Sides’ (2006)
- Redlist – ‘Ignorance’ (2007)
- Jeff Scott Soto – LA Rocks Demo / Vinnie Vincent Demo 1988 (2008)
- Jeff Scott Soto – ‘Beautiful Mess’ (2009)
- Jeff Scott Soto – “21st Century” / “Gin & Tonic Sky” CD Single (2009) – Bonus Edition
- Jeff Scott Soto – ‘One Night in Madrid’ (2009)
- Trans-Siberian Orchestra – ‘Night Castle’ (2009)
- W.E.T. – ‘W.E.T.’ (2009)
- Jeff Scott Soto – ‘Live at Firefest 2008’ (2010)
- Jeff Scott Soto – ‘Damage Control’ (2012)
- W.E.T. – ‘Rise Up’ (2013)
- W.E.T. – ‘One Live in Stockholm’ (2014)
- Jeff Scott Soto – The Authorized Biography (2014)
- SOTO – ‘Inside the Vertigo’ (2015)
- Joel Hoekstra’s 13 – Dying to Live (2015)
- SOTO – ‘Divak’ (2016)
- Sons of Apollo – ‘Psychotic Symphony’ (2017)
- Jeff Scott Soto – ‘Retribution’ (2017)
- W.E.T. – ‘Earthrage’ (2018)
- SOTO – ‘Origami’ (2019)
- Sons of Apollo – ‘Live With the Plovdiv Psychotic Symphony’ (2019)
- Sons of Apollo – ‘MMXX’ (2020)
- Talisman – “Never Say Die (A Song For Marcel)” – 7″ Single (2020)
- Jeff Scott Soto – ‘Live and Loud in Milan 2019’ (2020)
- Jeff Scott Soto – ‘Wide Awake (In My Dreamland)’ (2020)
- SOTO – ‘Revision’ (2020)
- W.E.T. – ‘Retransmission’ (2021)
- Jeff Scott Soto – ‘The Duets Collection, Vol. 1’ (2021)
- Jeff Scott Soto – ‘Complicated’ (2022)
- Ellefson/Soto – ‘Vacation in the Underground’ (2022)
- Slam – ‘Slam’ (2023)
- Jeff Scott Soto / Jason Bieler – Live In Concert (2022) – Bonus Edition
- Jeff Scott Soto / Jason Bieler – Live in Concert (2023) – Bonus Edition
12 thoughts on “Sons of Apollo – ‘Live with the Plovdiv Psychotic Symphony’ (2019) – Album Review (the Jeff Scott Soto Series)”
Boy can they ever pull a crowd over there. Like the Unplugged series I got burnt out on listening to these kind of shows but that Leppard one that came out last week has swayed me a little bit as I like it. lol
I may add this one to my Apple Music now that you dropped a 4.5!
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I think this show is killer to watch. It is good to listen to, but watching Derek and Bumblefoot play those instruments is something to behold. What a talented group!
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No doubt some serious talent on that stage.
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It looked awesome.
Hello all…just noticed that Jeff Scott Soto & Jason Bieler (Saigon Kick) are playing together this Friday at small place in NYC. See these 2 together or escape NYC early on Memorial Day wknd for the beach…What a f’ing quandary!?! Any thoughts? Should I make sure to see this show?
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Go read my review of last week’s show and then decide. It is a comedy routine with a bunch of music thrown in and a lot are covers but you do get a lot of Saigon Kick and some Soto stuff. I loved it, but that is me.
Ahhh somehow I missed that review…Thx for the info & I thought I was the only person out there w/ the Super Transatlantic “Shuttlecock” album. Good stuff, thx…If it wasn’t Friday of Memorial Day wknd it would be a ‘without a doubt’ show for me. Gametime decision…Take care
That is really impressive, both the sound and the venue. And of course a staggering amount of talent in the line-up.
Bumblefoot is an insane guitarists and he totally comfortably numbed me with that solo.
Their performance of “Comfortably Numb” was phenomenal, and every bit as good to my ears as Pink Floyd!