Monday, June 17, 2024

Transatlantic – Live at Morsefest

Morsefest is an annual event held in Neal Morse’s hometown, Nashville. It’s a two day event featuring the music of Morse from his various musical adventures, either solo or with The Neal Morse Band. In 2022, however, his prog supergroup Transatlantic .. Morse, Stolt, Portnoy and Trewavas .. finally performed at Morsefest and, over the weekend, put on two shows which featured a choir and also a string section, making this event a very unique experience for those fans lucky enough to be in attendance.

Early in 2023, Transatlantic released a triple CD, The Final Flight, recorded in Paris on the last night of their 2022 tour, and the speculation was this show was to be their swansong. However, it was said one more album (Morsefest 2022) would eventually be released. So, if the runes are correct, this new release could well be the final offering from a much-celebrated band and, if so, this is an amazing piece of music to bow out with, which is certainly fit to stand alongside much of the other great music they’re leaving in their slipstream.

Transatlantic have always adhered to one simple premise, which is ‘more is never enough.’ Too much music for one album? No problem, they’ll simply make it a double/treble album or, as is the case here, four and a half hours of music, thirty-seven songs and all spread across five discs! The music performed doesn’t deviate too far from the setlist on The Final Flight, though here they include a towering version of the Procul Harum classic, ‘In Held (T’was) In I,’ which they’d covered on their debut album. On the opening night, they perform ‘The Whirlwind’ in its entirety for the first time in almost a decade, and also play the lengthy ‘Into The Blue,’ off of Kaleidoscope, and the gorgeous ‘We All Need Some Light,’ with Ted Leonard (Spock’s Beard) coming upfront to sing ‘Lay Down Your Life’. The set changes on night two, where they give a full performance of The Absolute Universe, all tracks from the two versions of the album, after which they close the show with a medley from the first two albums, including excerpts from ‘All Of The Above,’ ‘My New World’ and ‘Stranger In Your Soul,’ and overall the addition of female voices and the judicious usage of strings adds a special touch and enhances the music to a considerable degree.

Following on from the double CD, The Final Flight, released just over a year back, and given there’s not exactly a shortage of Transatlantic ‘live’ CD’s, there could be a case for asking if there’s really any need for another? You pay your money and all that .. and for this 5 CD set there’ll be very little change from £70 ..but if you enjoy well performed, complicated though accessible and adventurous music, performed by four outstanding musicians, you’ll probably think this is good value for money. One can only wonder if we’ll ever see another prog supergroup as musically prodigious as Transatlantic?

Laurence Todd
Laurence Todd
Took early retirement after many years as a teacher in order to write books as well as about music. A long-time music obsessive, has wide and eclectic tastes but particularly likes prog rock and rock in general. Enjoys going to gigs and discovering new acts.

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Morsefest is an annual event held in Neal Morse’s hometown, Nashville. It's a two day event featuring the music of Morse from his various musical adventures, either solo or with The Neal Morse Band. In 2022, however, his prog supergroup Transatlantic .. Morse, Stolt,...Transatlantic - Live at Morsefest