Montreal, Canada, April 2010.

I’ve taken two days off work to travel to Montreal. I’ve been there before, but only on my way to somewhere else.

This time, I want to enjoy the city to the fullest. I’ve packed my schedule: an art exhibition, lunch with a friend, dinner with another friend, a walk around Mount Royal Park.

But most importantly: a concert by progressive rock supergroup Transatlantic. Roine Stolt (The Flower Kings), Neal Morse (Spock’s Beard), Mike Portnoy (Dream Theater), Pete Trewavas (Marillion) — and, joining them for the tour, Daniel Gildenlöw (Pain of Salvation).

I’m stoked.

The venue has been split into two sections. The front section is standing room only, and the back section has seats. I couldn’t get a ticket in the front section, so I’m sitting way in the back.

This being a prog show, there are very few young people, and only a handful of young women. Luckily, there’s a young couple sitting next to me, so I don’t feel too out of place.

The band starts playing. And they keep playing. Not including the intermission, the set lasts nearly three hours.

That’s right: three magical, mind-blowing hours. The young couple and I — and most of the front section, as far as I can tell — sing along to every single song.

The audience calls for an encore. The young couple clearly want to stay, but they have to leave. I sit tight, wondering what song the band is going to play. They must be exhausted.

They get back onstage. And they start playing Stranger in Your Soul.

No way! That song is 25 minutes long. There’s no way they’re playing the whole thing after a three-hour set.

But of course they do exactly that.

Towards the end, Neal Morse asks the audience to sing: “Come on, Montreal, let’s hear it!” And he stops singing.

I start belting out the lyrics: When you come to make love—

 Uh-oh. I’m literally the only singer in the entire back section. Everybody’s staring at me. Should I stop?

Why would I? Come on, Mr Neal Morse asked me to sing! And I’ve sung this so many times that I know I’m hitting all the right notes. Why should I be ashamed? Shame on you for staying quiet.

— your only goal

Words cannot describe the feeling

Awakening the stranger in your soul

From the shallow to the deepest meaning


The next morning, my throat is so sore that I can barely speak. The hotel receptionist inquires:

“What happened? Were you at the hockey game last night? I heard that we lost.”
“No, I was at a concert and sang for three and a half hours.”
“Oh wow! What band was it?”
“Never heard of ’em.”
“Yeah, not many people have.”

And that’s a crying shame.

Stereo Story #620