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Topic ClosedSpock's Beard, The Point, Cardiff, 2nd July 2008

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Direct Link To This Post Topic: Spock's Beard, The Point, Cardiff, 2nd July 2008
    Posted: July 07 2008 at 09:33
I'd rated the Neal Morse-era Spock's Beard albums to have been some of the best prog albums of the 90s/00s but whilst I enjoy them a lot, I'd found the albums without Morse to have been slightly patchier by comparison. Nevertheless, I'd heard much about them being a brilliant live act in any incarnation and the recent (excellent) DVD seemed to prove that. Even that DVD did not fully represent just how great they really are in concert, though, as I discovered at The Point last Wednesday.
 
This was Spock's Beard's first UK tour; although they have played gigs in the UK before, they've certainly never played in Wales before to the best of my knowledge. The crowd was pleasingly of a very good size and of a reasonably mixed age range too.
 
There had been considerable buzz about this tour amongst prog fans; not just because of Spock's Beard's presence on the bill but also due to the presence of Frost* whose 2006 album 'Milliontown' created some buzz upon its release. I have to confess I find 'Milliontown' rather overtly bombastic for my own tastes and the rather overbearing sound mix Frost received on this night ensured this was the case again. However, they played like they were the headline act and brought a real sense of fun to what they played so that fun easily translated to the crowd. In addition to half of the 'Milliontown' album, the band played three new tracks (all three are up on the band's MySpace site). Jem Godfrey's witty banter and John Mitchell's (of Arena, Kino and latterly It Bites as well) excellent guitar work were particularly worthy of note.
 
However good Frost* were, though, Spock's Beard came out on top with a truly fantastic display. The tension-building double drum introduction (taken from the drum parts in 'With Your Kiss', I believe) set the scene perfectly and 'On A Perfect Day' (in my mind, the best post-Morse song they've released thus far) was a superb opening salvo. The crowd greeted the band like conquering heroes throughout the show and the band proceeded to deliver one hell of a performance. Of particular note for me was the Nick D'Virgilio/Jimmy Keegan drum battle, which compared very favourably with those classic Phil Collins/Chester Thompson workouts in Genesis, leading into a first-class rendition of instrumental 'Skeletons At The Feast' . My personal favourite SB song of them all, the gorgeous 'June', got a very welcome airing and also earned a singalong from the crowd. The highlight of the set though had to me a fantastic performance of the epic 'The Great Nothing', which was genuinely awe-inspiring.
 
The band's good humour was also very evident; all members were charismatic and appeared to be lapping up the great reception they received. Even an equipment breakdown, with two separate guitars faltering on the introduction to 'The Bottom Line', was greeted with good humour in the shape of a wonderfully eccentric joke from Ryo Okumoto. Special credit must go to Nick D'Virgilio though, who commanded the stage by filling a dizzying amount of roles- not just singing, but various stints on guitar, keyboard and drums too.
 
Their rave reception ensured an encore, which arrived in the shape of a medley of 'Onamatopoeia' and old favourite 'Go The Way You Go'.
 
It has to rank as one of the best, most enjoyable performances I've seen from any band in any genre thus far. I have to say I felt it was a gamble for the band to do a UK tour but reviews from fans on other forums have suggested that turnouts have been excellent in all of the gigs they played so far, which is very nice to hear. Let's hope they are inspired by the reception and decide to do another UK tour, as I for one would love to see them again.
 
SET LIST
-------------
Frost*
 
Experiments In Mass Appeal
Hyperventilate
Pocket Sun
Black Light Machine
Wonderland
The Other Me
------------------
Spock's Beard
 
On A Perfect Day
On The Edge
Cakewalk On Easy Street
Surfing Down The Avalanche
She Is Everything
Thoughts (Part Two)
Drum Duet
Skeletons At The Feast
The Bottom Line
June
Keyboard Solo
The Great Nothing
Onamatopoeia/Go The Way You Go
 
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: July 07 2008 at 10:03
Sounds like a teriific gig there, bodes well as I'm going to see them tonight at Bilstons Robin 2.
Spending more than I should on Prog since 2005

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