GIG REVIEW: An Evening With SONS OF APOLLO Live at Town Ballroom, Buffalo, NY
After their debut performances on the high seas a couple of weeks ago, (Cruise to the Edge), the recently formed Sons Of Apollo made a stop at the Town Ballroom in Buffalo and put on a clinic for the near capacity crowd. This should come as no surprise when you look at the pedigree and decades of touring experience among the band. Featuring Mike Portnoy on drums (Dream Theater, Avenged Sevenfold, Adrenaline Mob, Stone Sour, The Winery Dogs, Twisted Sister, and Metal Allegiance, among others), with Billy Sheehan on bass (Steve Vai, David Lee Roth, Mr. Big, as well as The Winery Dogs), that’s already more than enough to be considered a super group. Added to the mix is Ron ‘Bumblefoot’ Thal (Guns n Roses, Art of Anarchy, and Lita Ford), as well as several guitar oriented tours ), keyboardist Derek Sherinian (Dream Theater, Alice Cooper, Kiss, Billy Idol, to name a few), and rounding out the band as front man is Jeff Scott Soto (Yngwie Malmsteen, Journey, and Trans-Siberian Orchestra).
This was my first time at the Town Ballroom, and I was blown away with the place. Featuring a large atrium and bar as you enter the premises, I was left wondering where the stage was. Doors at the back enter the theatre itself, and it couldn’t be more perfect for live shows. A sunken floor level is in front of the stage, while steps and risers wrap completely around the room, meaning there isn’t a bad spot to be had for a view of the stage. Perfect! I’ll be certain to check their upcoming shows as I intend on coming back!!
Sifting, a progressive metal band out of Los Angeles, warmed up the stage with a short, yet energetic set. While being on the scene since 2010, Sifting has recently caught the attention of both fans, and industry insiders, signing with Eclipse Records in 2017, as well as releasing their debut record ‘Not From Here’. Frontman Eduardo “Edu” Gil, relocated to Los Angeles for a fresh start, adding Wins Jarquin on bass, Richard Garcia on guitar, and Joey Aguirre on drums, and Sifting began their assault on the worldwide stage.
Sons of Apollo hit the stage, much to the delight of Billy Sheehan’s hometown crowd. What was most evident, other than being masters of their domain, was the sheer enjoyment that these guys shared, while performing together. While Mike Portnoy held down the backbeats, as only he can, with arms flailing, sticks spinning, and even playing catch with himself on occasion, Billy Sheehan prowled all over stage left. Also of note, was the fact that one guitarist and one bassist actually controlled 4 guitars at once, as both Bumblefoot and Billy both play double necked instruments. I’ve seen them play separately before, but this was a first for me, and made for some great photo ops.
Commanding the front of the stage, Jeff Scott Soto took us all on a journey with a voice that really has to be heard to be believed and appreciated. With gut wrenching power throughout his vocal range, he hit both low and high notes with ease, while Ron Thal added some pretty killer harmonies and back up vocals, along with Portnoy. Delivering a fantastic set, including their debut album ‘Psychotic Symphony’ in it’s entirety, as well as some Dream Theater and Van Halen covers, Sons of Apollo made a lasting impression on me, as well as all in attendance. Be sure to see them in your area, as they are hitting the road for a full spring / summer tour.