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Spock's Beard - Snow Live CD (album) cover


Spock's Beard

Symphonic Prog

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Heavy / RPI / Symphonic Prog Team
4 stars Here another live release involving Neal Morse with one of his many groups of friends. This time he is with his old Spock's Beard friends that have not release a live album in a while. The event was recorded at Neal home church in Nashville where he has previously released some live shows with his others projects. The band did the whole "Snow" album, the most successful album of the band. This album has been written twice in the context of The World Trade Center event and in a period of time where Neil was uncertain about his future until he heard the voice of God telling him to go in another direction. The rest is history... It's nice to hear for a change a "song album" instead of long epic songs of 20 minutes that we have usually with Neal Morse. The line-up is impressive with two drummers, two guitar players and everyone chipping in on the vocals. The picture quality is crisp and clear, and quite entertaining to watch the visuals with the big screen in the back. You can enjoy the passion and fun that every musician got just playing this big double concept album that they did not have the chance to play because of Neal's departure. I rediscovered this album that is not my favorite but still has enough high-quality moments to make it a good concert. The second disk has the encore with the song "June" and "Falling For Forever". The making of documentary is worth watching for the Q&A session of each member with fans. Recommended!
Report this review (#1839899)
Posted Friday, December 8, 2017 | Review Permalink
5 stars It's good to go back in time and try to make things right. That may be one of the reasons for Neil to rejoin SB for this concept album. It is reproduced very well with the orchestration and harmonies. This is a one-off and was not taken on the road. The band is really hyped to the max for this show, and you can see it in their faces with all the jumping up and down. This record may be considered not quite as good as "V" but it is a marvelous record nevertheless, being a great story, and much better than the Genesis LLDonB from the 70's. Spocks Beard is a band that never compromises and has integrity. They should be admired for carrying on after the departure of Neil when the album was recorded in 2001. They have put together a great show for the fans of the Beard and it was about time that they promoted this great album. 4.5 stars.
Report this review (#1873193)
Posted Wednesday, February 7, 2018 | Review Permalink
kev rowland
Honorary Reviewer
5 stars Back in 1995 a totally unknown quartet released their debut album. This was back in the days before internet existed, and the mainstream hated prog, so it was actually incredibly hard to hear about new bands, socially from America unless they were signed to a label such as Kinesis who were getting publicity. But, pretty soon everyone involved in the underground scene in the UK knew who they were, and were talking about them. I remember going to a gig at Shepherd's Bush, and afterwards everyone just seemed to be talking about this new band, and had anyone actually heard 'The Light'? Martin Orford was incredibly excited that GEP had secured the European rights and the first time I played that album I was in awe.

From there on Spock's Beard could do no wrong in my eyes or ears, as anyone reading Feedback will attest to, as I was shouting from the rooftops that this was the best band I had ever heard out of America. I saw them every time they came to London, and each gig was better than the last. Then in 2002 they released 'Snow'. At the time I was working on a project which involved me spending many hours in a car visiting different supermarkets each Thursday, which gave me the opportunity to blast this out at the correct volume, and I was saying that the best band in the world had just released the finest album possible. Then it was announced that Neal Morse had left, and that there would be no tour. I was in shock, and went through all the stages of grief (especially denial), as it just made no sense to me whatsoever. I mean, Gabriel went through with the Lamb tour didn't he? But no, it was all over. The next time I saw Spock's Beard they had California Guitar Trio as the initial support, followed by Enchant. They had long time been a favourite band of mine, so really enjoyed the set, but the same can't be said to Spock's Beard, and I left halfway through the set. I was fortunate enough to catch Neal on the 'Testimony' tour, and it was like old times, but I accepted that the finest album released in the past 20 years would never be played at a concert.

Fast forward to Saturday July 2nd, 2016, at New Life Fellowship Church in Cross Plains, and the unthinkable happened. The current line-up of Spock's Beard (Alan Morse, Ryo Okumoto, Dave Meros, Ted Leonard and Jimmy Keegan) were joined by Neal Morse and Nick D'Virgilio for one night only, and they performed 'Snow' in its entirety. Being performed in a church (as part of Morsefest) there was only ever going to be a small audience, so it was also recorded and filmed, and what I have here is the 2 DVD/2 CD set. There was no pressure on the band, all they had to do was perform the album note perfect for an audience that knew the words as well as they did, but also it was very much a one-off, never to be repeated. The first thing I did was play the DVDs, so that I could then listen to the CDs knowing what was going on. I must state that I felt sorry for Ted Leonard through this whole performance, as although he was always onstage, and made valuable contributions, he was very much the third wheel. Having a second drummer made a lot of sense as it allowed Nick to be at the front when he needed to be, but Ted was raised on a small dais behind Alan and just didn't look comfortable which is a real shame as he is one of the best singers around, and I have always enjoyed his work.

But, tonight was all about Neal being back where many SB fans feel he totally belongs, front and centre of the Beard, performing his songs. Not only was he the voice, but he also wrote the majority of the songs, and his ability to move between keyboards and guitar gave the band presence and ability they have missed without him there to provide it. Was it a brilliant performance of the album? Pretty much, it has to be said, and with an additional electric guitar from Leonard when the time was right, it added some crunch that would have been missed otherwise.

The DVD filming of the evening is also good, and the interplay between Jimmy and Nick is wonderful to see, especially in the duet on 'Falling For Forever', one of the only two non-'Snow' songs from the night (the other of course being 'June'). The question and answer section was interesting, especially as Rich Mouser was involved. The 'making of' was also really interesting, where they talk about the original recording and what had happened. I hadn't realised that the combination of Nick being incredibly unwell and the falling of the Twin Towers had a major impact on the album, which was basically re-written due to that.

Anyway, if you have no idea what 'Snow' is about then this four disc set isn't the place to start, go and get the original instead. If you are already a fan then this is indispensable. 'Nuff said.

Report this review (#1949982)
Posted Friday, July 20, 2018 | Review Permalink
5 stars Spock's Beard double concept album Snow was released in 2002 and Neal Morse left the band right away, without ever doing a tour for the album. This caused many to consider Snow 'the Beard's Lamb Lies Down on Broadway', but at least Genesis did tour the album before Peter Gabriel left. So in a sense, dreaming of a Spock's reunion to play Snow in its entirety felt to many like many of us dreamed of a Genesis reunion to play again the whole The Lamb in the 1980's or 90's. Nope, it never happened'

But this time the dream came true. With occasion of MorseFest 2016 and for a one-off concert, Neal rejoined the new complete Spock's lineup together with Nick D'Virgilio to perform Snow from top to bottom. So we get a 7 members band plus a trumpet and a sax for some songs. The 2 drummers Nick and Jimmy Keegan, 2 keyboardists Neal and Ryo (with Neal of course also playing guitars), Alan Morse, Dave Meros and Ted Leonard who sings and plays guitars, and all of them doing some vocals. The venue was Neil's local church so the audience is rather limited, and I envy them.

The performance is top notch and the sound and video quality are very good as you can expect from a 2017 release. You can see that the guys really enjoyed themselves in this gig. Having Keegan as double drummer allowed Nick D'Virgilio to take more center stage and sing lead vocals on some songs, something he clearly enjoys. Alan also visibly had a great time. The only one looking a bit more contrived is Ted Leonard, which is rather understandable being relegated to a small podium behind Alan and with Neal Morse clearly stealing the show with his endless energy. Even though Ted gets to sing lead on both runs of 'The Devil's Got My Throat' and does a lot of backing vocals and accompanying guitars.

As said the performance of Snow is flawless, and as encores we have (yeah you guessed it?) 'June', and the 27 minute suite 'Falling for Forever' including a very nice drums duet between Nick and Jimmy. And as bonus we have about 1 hour of Q&A with the band members, including producer Rich Mouser, and about half an hour interview with Neal about the writing of Snow and the idea of rejoining the Spock's for this gig. Plenty of stuff to enjoy.

So for all fans of The Beard this is a dream come true.

Report this review (#2118103)
Posted Sunday, January 13, 2019 | Review Permalink

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