Release Date: August 25, 2023
Label: Inside Out Music
Twenty years in the making, Sherinian/Phillips Live is documenting a special concert recorded at The Grape in Ventura, California, on August 29, 2022. There were 500 people in attendance.
Receiving the vinyl version of the release for review was a real treat for the ears.
The Line-Up for the recording includes:
Derek Sherinian (keys/synth), Simon Phillips (drums), Ron ‘Bumblefoot’ Thal (guitar), and Ric Fierabracci (bass). That qualifies as a supergroup as far as I am concerned.
Side A begins with "The Vortex." The track is an energized opener. The listener enters their vortex of sound with a series of rapid-fire keyboard strokes, a rock-solid rhythm section, and Bumblefoot at his best with his double-neck guitar. Of course, Simon's drumming keeps the engine running, which always drives this musical machine in top form with the help of Ric's bass during the entire performance.
"Empyrean Sky" opens with a heavy introduction and turns to a lower amperage to allow the six-string to sing. Catchy rhythms and melodicism are featured as Derek builds on it with his talented fingers. The rest of the instrumentation answers the call steadily and consistently.
"Temple of Helios" has a solid bass line as the track goes through the paces of change. Powerfully blended prog rock is in their command, with touches of jazz peppering the composition. Derek shows how diverse he can be as different high points and drawing back on the volume and intensity make for more changes. The track is colorful and eclectic, and it reminded me of Return To Forever.
"Inertia" begins with computer-age sounds of electronics as it builds steadily, then Bumblefoot cuts loose with some riffs, and Derek adds a soft layer in the background and then steps it up to match the intensity of the guitar wailing away. The swift guitar playing is impressive, along with the keys, to keep it all intact. The bass and drums hold down the back end with steady hands. The ongoing exchange between the guitar and keys reaches a crescendo of sound.
"Alpha Burst” features a guitar intro that calls to the keys again and gets an answer, while the rhythm section holds firm and accurate. Compact and constantly moving, the side closes in a flourish of sounds!
Side B starts with "Barnacus" as the drums begin with tremendous authority as Simon leads into a heavy opener where the entire group's strength merges. Then it takes a mellower tone shift as the guitar offers some nice lines to enhance the track further. The keys change the course and then revert to the softer approach. The bass turns on the spotlight with a solo as Ric shows how much talent he brings to the stage. Jazz tones enter the mix briefly, then back to the stinging guitar lines to set the tone for the B side of the platter.
"Seven Seas" gives the listener time to sail away on the open water of sound. The music paints the necessary picture to mirror the track title with some tasteful guitar. The six-string leads the way as the keys add a layer. Then it takes off, and everything is moving at hyper speed. It was a reminder of the kind of song Liquid Tension Experiment would do!
"Ascension" is quick, clocking in at 2:48. A little ditty on the keys, then some guitar flexing with some pedal effects lead into the next track, "The Phoenix." The energy level again is like the phoenix being reborn out of the ashes. The instrumentation engages with a rhythm section that continues forward like a juggernaut on a mission.
Then, a short intro to the band addresses the audience as their epic "Aurora Australis" finishes the recording with plenty of musical fireworks. All their colors and talent are displayed for the audience as they hear 11:27 of masterful progressive metal.
Sherinian/Phillips Live is a superb live album and sounds fantastic on vinyl. This kind of performance is one that everyone involved will never forget. It is a must-have for your vinyl collection if you love prog metal or prog rock.
Keith “MuzikMan” Hannaleck-PRMR Founder
October 16, 2023
1.The Vortex (04:43)
2. Empyrean Sky (04:20)
3. Temple of Helios (06:17)
4. Inertia (04:32)
5. Alpha Burst (04:01)
1. Barnacus (03:32)
2. Seven Seas (05:51)
3. Ascension (02:48)
4. The Phoenix (04:55)
5. Introduction (00:31)
6. Aurora Australis (11:27)