Innocence & Danger (2021) was the fourth album of the Neal Morse Band and besides two fillers it was again a progressive rock rollercoaster of the first order indeed. As you have probably been reading reviews of yours truly on this site then you know what is coming: a “dazzling,” maybe not 100% objective review of the live album of the tour which promoted this release, so here we go.
An Evening Of Innocence & Danger was recorded in Hamburg and it features almost all tracks of the NMB's latest album, except for Emergence (thank God for that... sorry Neal) and Not Afraid Part 1. The show kicks off with the two excellent songs Do It All Again and Bird On A Wire, both beautifully sung by Eric Gillette and both stand out due to their earworm choruses; follow ups Your Place In The Sun and Another Story To Tell (hello Foreigner and Toto) are really seventies pop/rock songs par excellence! Of course, I know, that we have heard it all before, the same extremely familiar Morse melodies, the same emotion, the same catchy choruses and of course the same rather “doubtful” lyrics, but it actually sounds so good, and the music is so well played that I still cannot get enough of it. I know, we all know, that Morse repeats himself, yes, he certainly does - maybe I repeat myself in this review too much as well - but he does it so well as the music speaks for itself in a rather superb way. The highlights are of course the two “monster” epics Not Afraid Part 2, clocking in over 21 minutes, and Beyond The Years, clocking in over 34 minutes!! Neal Morse (guitars & keyboard), Mike Portnoy (drums), Eric Gillette (guitars) and Bill Hubauer (keyboards) really shine in those prog rock iconic tracks, proving that this quartet is almost second to none indeed. Last but not least we are treated to The Great Similitude Medley, again a prog epic featuring highlights from the albums The Great Adventure (2019) and The Similitude Of A Dream (2016); a more than excellent way to end this amazing performance. However I could have done without the totally superfluous Simon & Garfunkel cover Bridge Over Troubled Water; without that filler this album would be “perfect,” but then again as it turned out Bridge Over Troubled Water became a favourite of the fans during the tour, so, again, there is no account for taste.
This prog rock live “monster” album (three CDs with a playing time of more than two hours) is a MUST for Morse fans and a MUST for lovers of incredibly well played melodic progressive rock; play it LOUD and enjoy. Listening tip: Beyond The Years!
**** Martien Koolen (edited by Tracy van Os van den Abeelen)
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