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Spock's Beard - Live CD (album) cover


Spock's Beard

Symphonic Prog

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4 stars This is the first live album of Spock's Beard that I actually decided to listen to all the way through, and I have to say, it's very well done. The sound quality is fantastic, very clean and polished. But that's not the most important part of the review.

This should be said first: Nick D'Virgilio is not Neal Morse. The two have distinctly different vocal styles; and nowhere is that perhaps as apparant as on these live recordings. That being said, I was very impressed with how well Nick did with the Morse era pieces. In the Mouth of Madness seems to be a perfect fit for him, and the other two I immediately think of Crack the Big Sky and Walking on the Wind are also very well sang. The problem is that while he certainly has the power to project the lyrics, Nick doesn't seem to be as keen at subtlety. Some of the nuances in vocal style from the studio tracks are lost in translation and that's a little disappointing. Nonetheless, the band is in great form. Most entertaining for me was the drum duel towards the middle of the album. It's a very easy way to get your blood pumping, much like my other highlight, which is Rearranged. I use this song (with a palpable sense of irony) to get myself energized when faced with a long, boring day at some other unimportant place in Phoenix. This song just seems made for a live recording, and it flourishes impressively here.

Overall, this is a solid live album. I find it very tough though to consider any live album a masterpiece as there certainly are things they could've done differently. Four stars out of five for a well refined offering that reminds us why we go to see bands live in the first place.

Report this review (#195036)
Posted Thursday, December 25, 2008 | Review Permalink
Crossover & JR/F/Canterbury Teams
4 stars While I'm not really in favor of this recent trend of bands releasing a live album after evry studio album, this one is not bad. The members of Spock's Beard made a wise choice to stay away from most of the not terribly progressive pop songs from "Feel Euphoria" and "Octane", and focus on what most of us fans want: hard driving toght prog.

They do a fine job on the songs originally sung by Neal Morse (Was he raptured this weekend? Jus wondering). Classic SB pieces like In The Mouth Of Madness and Crack The Big Sky fare quite well under Nick D'Virgilio's voice. And Thoughts (Part 2) is wonderful on this set.

The highlight has to be Return To Whatever, a song from an Alan Morse solo album. This piece magaes to capture a bit of Return To Forever, while keeping Spock's Beard's overall sound.

The low points are the Drum Duel between NDV and Jimmy Keegan (no one without the last name Bruford or Peart should leave the drum solo on their live albums) and Ryo Okumoto's tepid solo, Hereafter.

It's mostly high points, so four stars.

Report this review (#451191)
Posted Sunday, May 22, 2011 | Review Permalink
Symphonic Team
3 stars I remember buying this one when I was on holidays and was just hanging out for some New Beard. It was the only Spock's Beard album on the shelf that I didn't have so I took the chance. I was mildly enthused by the set list as it featured some of my faves especially 'Surfing Down the Avalanche' from "Octane". Instead I was a little underwhelmed as the songs were simply too close to the original albums without the creative spurt of an extended lead break or a drum solo worth mentioning. Certainly the music is great as usual, but I always prefer the band in the studio, other than actually being there at the concert.

The great parts of the concert are towards the end of CD 1. Highlights are here with 'Return to Whatever', 'Surfing Down The Avalanche' 'Thoughts - Part 2', 'Skeletons At The Feast' and then later the full version of 'As Far as the Mind Can See'; all definitely worth a listen. The band lineup is one of the best with vocalist Nick D'Virgillio, also a great guitarist, bassist Dave Meros, guitarist Alan Morse, and keyboard wizard Ryo Okumoto. Jimmy Keegan's drums are nothing special though. In fact the whole album is nothing special, and only comes across as yet another live album. The best is yet to come for Spock's Beard live. In comparison ex-Beardist Neal Morse's live albums are masterful and streets ahead on every level.

Report this review (#1430981)
Posted Saturday, June 27, 2015 | Review Permalink

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