Mike Portnoy’s Shattered Fortress & Next To None at Koko, London - live review

The Gospel - live

Crowd shot

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Driven by the blitzkrieg drumming of Portnoy’s son Max, NEXT TO NONE [7] offer a mix of blurry tempo changes, clean and growled vocals, turntable scratches, colourful keyboard swathes and dramatic melodies, with confidence to match the chops and youthful zeal. Portnoy Snr celebrated his 50th birthday earlier this year by performing his 12-step suite, a collection of personal songs penned for former group Dream Theater. Now he’s revisiting them again, apparently for the last time. Documenting a battle with alcoholism is deep, dark and demanding work, but the choice of UK prog-metallers Haken and guitar hotshot Eric Gillette in SHATTERED FORTRESS [9] pays off. Some don’t miss DT frontman James LaBrie, though it’s sometimes hard to hear anyone else singing these songs. However, the audience’s astonishing reaction rams home how much this material means not only to Portnoy, who believes it saved his life, but to all in this hall.

Dave Ling was a co-founder of Classic Rock magazine. His words have appeared in a variety of music publications, including RAW, Kerrang!, Metal Hammer, Prog, Rock Candy, Fireworks and Sounds. Dave’s life was shaped in 1974 through the purchase of a copy of Sweet’s album ‘Sweet Fanny Adams’, along with early gig experiences from Status Quo, Rush, Iron Maiden, AC/DC, Yes and Queen. As a lifelong season ticket holder of Crystal Palace FC, he is completely incapable of uttering the word ‘Br***ton’.