It was almost too much epic for the intimate stage at Dublin’s Tivoli Theatre when music’s favourite new super group, Sons Of Apollo, made their Irish debut on Wednesday evening. Comprised of a stellar line up destined to drop jaws, this is one, unique ensemble: vocalist Jeff Scott Soto (ex-Journey, ex-Yngwie Mlmsteen’s Rising Force), guitarist Ron “Bumblefoot” Thal (ex-Guns N’ Roses, Art of Anarchy), bassist Billy Sheehan (The Winery Dogs, David Lee Roth) and formerly of Dream Theater, the Del Fuvio Brothers found in keyboardist Derek Sherinian (Black Country Communion) and drummer Mike Portnoy (Metal Allegiance, The Winery Dogs). In support of their debut offering ‘Psychotic Symphony’, Sons Of Apollo treated the Irish audience to a two-hour set featuring some of the best performances you are likely to find anywhere in the business today.
Support on the night travelled a long way from Dubai and go by the name Jay Wud, after the bands namesake frontman. Having started slow, Jay Wud began to pick up some steam with their own brand of chugging Hard Rock, winning the initially unenthused audience over. However, as far as on stage slip ups and unfortunate public snafus go, Jay Wud had a memorable one. While he may be a talented player with a strong voice, the singer seriously needs to brush up on his Geography, as Dublin is not part of the U.K, regardless of whether or not he was delighted to be here. Fortunately, one member thought to read the sings as they crossed the border. One honest mistake later, all was forgiven when guitarist Bojan Preradovic corrected his buddy’s mishap, and the band recaptured the audience once again.
No props? No pyro? No problem. As Van Halen’s “Intruder” pumped out of the venue P.A system, lights darkened and upon the stage they arrived in all their unrivaled glory. There is no such thing as amateur hour with Sons of Apollo, a point reiterated in the nights opening original track “God of the Sun”, with each member exhibiting their exceptional gifts. Throughout their set, Jeff Scott Soto proved himself to be one of the finest frontmen in music. Having retained a set of pipes that will leave the hair standing up on the back of your neck, the singer used every inch of the stage, and the venue. After bouncing playfully between his co-members, Soto happily made his way through the tight audience during the extended encore to a rendition of Van Halen’s “And the Cradle Will Rock”, getting up close and personal with fans and taking hilarious selfies with whomever wanted one. But not before retiring the microphone to engage in a much enjoyed, organic call and response with the audience before launching into “Coming Home”.
Solos were traded all night in an entertaining fashion. One highlight being when Soto held Bumblefoot’s illuminated, double neck guitar like an offered gift, down on bended knee, while Bumblefoot effortlessly played it like a pedal steel, or piano depending on your preferred comparison. When it comes to solos, none were more captivating than that of bassist, the great Billy Sheehan, whose Irish family gave him a warm welcome home which the humble Sheehan graciously accepted.
If a little long winded, each member’s solo was truly something to behold. Even if a handful of fans found themselves a little disappointed that Mike Portnoy didn’t indulge in a spotlight moment. But to watch Portnoy play is a treat in itself, a treat only made better by a devilish Derek Sherinian whose keys and synths created an unrivaled wall of sound in original hits such as “Alive” and “Signs of the Time”.
Sons of Apollo could let their notoriety do the work for them. But luckily that is just not their style. In the end, the band awarded the Irish audience with the title of “best audience on the tour,” and they earned it. For the fans full hardheartedly reciprocated in their reception on what was an amazing night of musical performance. For Sons of Apollo aren’t just one of the best live acts you could hope to see this year, they are one of the best live bands around, period.