The Final Flight: Live At L'Olympia

rating icon 8 / 10

Track listing:

01. The Absolute Universe Intro
02. Overture
03. Reaching For The Sky
04. Higher Than The Morning
05. The Darkness In The Light
06. Take Now My Soul
07. Bully
08. Rainbow Sky
09. Looking For The Light
10. The World We Used To Know
11. MP Intro
12. The Sun Comes Up Today
13. Love Made A Way (Prelude)
14. Owl Howl
15. Solitude
16. Belong
17. Lonesome Rebel
18. Can You Feel It
19. Looking For The Light (Reprise)
20. The Greatest Story Never Ends
21. Love Made A Way
22. The Whirlwind Suite
23. NM and RS Intro
24. We All Need Some Light
25. The FINAL Medley

If it's a modern progressive rock supergroup you want, TRANSATLANTIC are the only credible choice. The quartet's collective pedigree needs little explanation, because the names Neal Morse, Mike Portnoy, Roine Stolt and Pete Trewavas are each legendary in their own right. The vast majority of prog fans will have enjoyed music by DREAM THEATER, SPOCK'S BEARD, THE FLOWER KINGS or MARILLION at some point, and so from the release of "SMPT:e" at the turn of the millennium, TRANSATLANTIC became the benchmark for this strain of polished, precise and wildly ambitious prog.

More than two decades later, "The Final Flight" finds the band in the rudest of health. Nearly three hours in length and sonically pristine, it documents the last show on their oft-delayed tour in support of 2021's mind-bending conceptual splurge "The Absolute Universe" — available, in true prog fashion, in a 64-minute "abridged" version and a 90-minute extended cut, which is the one fans are treated to here. Dissecting every moment of these 170 minutes can be safely left to the diehards, but it is always worth repeating that these four musicians have an extraordinary chemistry. Ably assisted by "fifth BEATLE" Ted Leonard (SPOCK'S BEARD),  TRANSATLANTIC serve up a master class in ensemble performance. Split into two dazzling song cycles, "The Absolute Universe" represents some of the strongest material the foursome have written to date, and from the euphoric "Higher Than The Morning", to the graceful crescendos of "Love Made A Way", its live incarnation exudes even more warmth and wonder than the original.

Guardians, as they are, of prog rock's extravagant remit, TRANSATLANTIC always give the fans value for money. Most bands would be content to rattle off the new album from front to back, before returning for a 10-minute encore as the getaway car revs its engine. For Morse, Portnoy, Stolt and Trewavas, an encore is simply another opportunity to delve deep into the back catalogue. The epic sprawl of 2009's "The Whirlwind" is condensed down to a comparatively snappy 35-minute tornado; Neal Morse's tender "We All Need Some Light" is dusted down from 23 years ago; and "The FINAL Medley", which crams several more TRANSATLANTIC classics into another seamless and often miraculous musical journey.

Whether or not anyone has three hours to spare is another matter, but for those who cherish melody, musicianship and the sound of five badass players having a ball, "The Final Flight" is well worth taking.

Author: Dom Lawson
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