Written by Alex Stojanovic
SONS OF APOLLO w/ TONY MACALPINE
and MASS EXTINCTION EVENT
@ Mod Club
Toronto, ON, Canada
February 2, 2020
Presented by Collective Concerts
The second day of February at the Mod Club in Toronto was a night chock-full of notes and odd time signatures, guaranteed to make any dedicated musician salivate. Sons Of Apollo, the band featuring Jeff Scott Soto, Ron "Bumblefoot" Thal, Billy Sheehan, Mike Portnoy and Derek Sherinian, returned to Toronto for the second on February 2nd to play the Mod Club as part of the tour in support of their sophomore album MMXX, which just came out in January. When I arrived at the venue, I could see a huge lineup forming outside the venue. However, what managed to draw more than a few grumbles was the fact that there was a half-an-hour delay from the scheduled door-opening time. The scheduled time was 7 PM, but they ended up opening at 7:30. There was some speculation regarding the reasoning for the delay. I was thinking that because the Mod Club can only fit so many people, and that there was a huge lineup, there was a fire code safety concern.
Up next was shred legend Tony MacAlpine. The difference between his set and Mass Extinction Event's set was that Tony did not interact or address the crowd during his set at all. The only time he addressed the crowd was at the end of the set where he introduced the band members and thanked the audience. The lack of interaction with the crowd during his set made it a little bit boring honestly, because it was just continuous music, except for quick breaks in between songs. If Tony would've talked to the audience in between some of the songs, his set would've stood out much more. Now, I'm not taking anything away from Tony's musical abilities because he's a master on guitar, but I'm just saying what would've made his set more enjoyable.
Sons Of Apollo then took the stage to close out the night. Now that they have two albums out, they were able to incorporate some more original music into their set, while still having one or two covers. Last time they were here, they played Psychotic Symphony in its entirety, and had four or five covers, which is understandable. With more music from the two albums, including a couple of covers, and two solo performances, the band's set lasted for over two hours. Their endurance to play for that long and to remember all those long songs is truly worthy of all our admiration, whether you're a musician or not.
The set started with two back-to-back new songs with "Goodbye Divinity" and "Fall To Ascend", and the band jumped back and forth between songs from MMXX and Psychotic Symphony. Being that Sons Of Apollo were in Toronto, one thing that was inevitable was a tribute to Neil Peart, who we sadly lost last month. During their set, there was more than one tribute segment for Neil. During "Wither To Black", they included a snippet of "Tom Sawyer", and Jeff Scott Soto wore a Rush button-up shirt just for that moment. They also dedicated the song "Alive" to Neil, and played a snippet of "Limelight" when they started the encore. In addition to paying tribute to Neil, they also dedicated the new song "Desolate July" to bassist David Zablidowsky of Adrenaline Mob, who the song was initially written for, as well as Kobe Bryant, who also sadly passed away last week. 2020 has not been kind with all the passings and world events that have happened thus far.
A rather funny, but cool highlight of their set was during "New World Today", Mike had to stop the song because he thought he messed up a part, and all the members had a laugh about it. The whole crowd seemed to also have a good laugh, but it was understandable, because with the amount of notes the band has to play, there are times where you might have a brain fart, and you mess up a part. The set also included solo performances from Derek Sherinian and Billy Sheehan. During the encore, the band came out and played a cover of Deep Purple's "Burn" along with Tony MacAlpine on guitar, and they closed the night off with "Coming Home". It was a fantastic way to spend a Sunday night. Every time I see a prog band like Sons Of Apollo, or a really technically proficient band, all they make me want to do is just go home and practice.