Neal Morse

June 2, 2011 - Hedon, Zwolle (NL)

Back in 2003 Neal Morse released his third solo album Testimony. This album was a way to look back at his life so far, but also a testimony of his Christian faith. At the time probably no-one would have expected that eight
Collin Leijenaar
years later Neal would release a successor, again a double album called Testimony 2. This shows that he had to speak his heart once more. To promote the new record Mr. Morse went on tour in the US; Europe was next during June and July. Neal and his band started out in Zwolle at the Hedon venue on June 2nd. As usual his European band had a different line-up compared to the line-up on the other side of the Atlantic. Some musicians who accompanied him on stage for the last couple of years couldn't join him on this European tour. Therefore his band consisted of musicians who accompanied him for the first time. However, his European side kick drummer Collin Leijenaar, his wife Jessica Koomen (backing vocals, keyboards, percussion) and guitarist Paul Bielatowicz were available again just as on the Sola Scriptura-tour.
Ben Mathot
After some orchestral music from tape Neal and his band started with an old piece from Spock's Beard. The audience could enjoy a fine version of Beware Of Darkness before the band continued with Leviathan. Next a piece Neal had never performed on stage before. From the One­- album the band delivered a proper version of Separated Man. The violin played by Ben Mathot got a nice solo spot on this track. Then Neal Morse warned the audience that from this point he would only perform long epics. 'Tell your girlfriends or wives who came along to go outside and do something else'. Well, he was only kidding off course. A nice impression of Neal's wife provoked laughter by the audience.
A twenty-minute medley taken from the Sola Scriptura- album was welcomed by the audience with a lot of cheering. First Neal told a nice anecdote about a friend, who came at his door to write a concept album about Martin Luther King which was a nice introduction to this superb piece of music. During this medley it became obvious that the band were blessed with a lot of great singers. The harmony vocals were really stunning and also other musicians participated in the lead vocals. Part 5 of the first Testimony­-album with a major part for the small string section ended the first set. Violinist Ben Mathot and cellist Nathan Brenton provided for a very orchestral sound.

These two musicians had again a major part during the second set which was completely reserved for the performance of Testimony 2. Obviously the music had been rehearsed a lot to provide for outstanding versions
Neal Morse
of the new stuff. All musicians had studied the music at home and got together a week before the tour began. However, it appeared that the music got a heavier edge compared to the versions on the album. Maybe that's not so strange if you consider that from time to time three musicians played the electric guitar simultaneously. But I wouldn't call it metal or hard rock. No way, it was still progressive rock music all the way. The most emotional moment was when Neal introduced the track concerning the health problems of his daughter. Jayda deals with the hole in her heart and how it was cured. He had tears in his eyes when he told the audience that a miracle happened while touring in Europe with Eric Burdon. Towards the end of the second set it all became more spiritual and you could find Mr. Morse on the floor of the small stage. Many people followed him when he prayed to God reaching his hands out to the sky...

Although the concert wasn't the same as on the original studio album, it was still worth listening and performed with a lot of strength and passion! It was obvious that the band would return for a final encore after finishing a perfect interpretation of Testimony 2. Afterwards drummer Colin Leijenaar told me that they had the option of Reunion or King Jesus as an encore. In Zwolle they played Reunion. Again the audience sang along and praised the Lord Jesus, thus ending a fine performance, but held in a far too small venue that hardly could handle an almost sold-out concert. The temperature went up to alarming values and most of the time there was too little space to move. Next time a bigger concert hall please!

Henri Strik (edited by Peter Willemsen)


Set 1:
Beware Of Darkness
The Separated Man
Sola Scriptura
Testimony 1 Part 5:
- Overture No. 3
- Rejoice
- Oh Lord My God
- God's Theme 2
- The Land Of Beginning

Set 2:
Testimony 2:
- Mercy Street
- Overture No. 4
- Time Changer
- Jayda
- Nighttime Collectors
- Time Has Come Today
- Jesus' Blood
- The Truth Will Set You Free
- Chance Of A Lifetime
- Jesus Bring Me Home
- Road Dog Blues
- It's For You
- Crossing Over /
       Mercy Street Reprise


Pictures Neal Morse, by Henri Strik

Click on the picture to enlarge.

Line up:

(left to right)
Ben Mathot:
Kristoffer Gildenlöw:
bass guitar, backing vocals
Ola Hedén:
keyboards, backing vocals
Neal Morse:
lead and backing vocals, keyboards, guitars
Paul Bielatowicz:
guitars, backing vocals
Collin Leijenaar:
drums, backing vocals
Jessica Koomen:
backing vocals, keyboards, percussion
Nathan Brenton:
cello, guitar

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