Spock's Beard

September 4, 2014
Muziekcentrum De Bosuil, Weert (NL)

Bad luck is something you canīt avoid in life. It hit me when I tried to make my way to a concert of the American progressive rock band Spock's Beard. A drive to the De Bosuil in Weert usually is approximately a one hour drive, however due to a car accident on the highway and the heavy traffic jam that followed, in the end it took me two hours and fifteen minutes to get to the location. It meant I only could witness the last song of the performance by American outfit The SixxiS gave to warm up the crowd for the headliner. This made it impossible for me to write a review of their showcase! Too bad, but as it seems, bad luck is just a part of life!

Although the start of the evening wasn't great, I expected it wouldn't spoil the rest of the evening. The Beard was certainly responsible for that fact. I guess most of all keyboard player Ryo Okumoto took the blame, because he was the one who sorted out the songs the band played. He compiled a set list that turned out to be one big, musical highlight, containing songs which were taken from the band's latest fantastic album Brief Nocturnes And Dreamless Sleep
Ted Leonard
(2013, see review), and songs predominately taken from albums which still had Neal Morse on board. The bands former lead singer and multi-instrumentalist was responsible for many of their brilliant compositions in the past, and many of them could be enjoyed at the Bosuil.

Just like fifteen years ago, when the band toured the Netherlands to promote their album Day For Night (1999) and recorded their first live DVD Don't Try This At Home-Live (2002), they opened with Day For Night. A true opening piece which brings the crowd in the right mood. At later stage, a track taken from the same album turned out to be the only encore of the band's performance. At first the audience seemed to be a little bit disappointed to get only The Healing Colors Of Sound as an encore however, with the song being twenty minutes long, you have to admit the band did everything to please their fans! In between these two tracks taken from the Day For Night album, the band gave a splendid performance that lasted two hours. During those two happy hours they only played one track which was taken from Ryo's favourite Spock's Beard album, namely the title track of Beware Of Darkness (1996). A real pleasant surprise for me, because I hadn't heard the band playing this George Harrison composition for a very long time. Real surprises, which I liked a lot, were the tracks taken from The Kindness Of Strangers (1998) album. Harm's Way and In The Mouth Of Madness just blew me
Jimmy Keegan
away completely. The live renditions of those album tracks came close to the original versions. Even if lead singer Ted Leonard has a completely different voice compared to the already mentioned Neal Morse, he tried hard to reach the same kind of vocal approach, which probably wasn't easy for him, because it probably had been the very first time he rehearsed all those old tunes. An unbelievably difficult job compared to guitarist Alan Morse, bassist Dave Meros and keyboard player Ryo Okumoto, who had been playing those compositions for many years already. Even drummer Jimmy Keegan must have played them before, when former drummer and singer Nick D'Virgilio took over the vocal duties in the band after Neal left Spock's Beard when they released the Snow album in 2002. An album that never was performed in it's entirety in front of an audience; therefore it was the surprise of the evening when the band did a medley from this double concept album. During this medley a leading role was reserved for Mr. Keegan. He stepped away from his drum kit to sing the ballad Carie.
Alan Morse
Originally sung by D'Virgilio. The only track taken from the time when Nick fronted the band appeared to be Skeletons At The Feast, which was taken from Spock's Beard (2006). During this strong instrumental piece Ryo and Alan could show off on their instruments. The latter even dared to go off stage and walk around through the crowd while playing his electric guitar. Well, the people who he bumped into really loved it all the way!

Finally, let me tell you which songs were played from the band's latest effort. First I could enjoy Hiding Out, which contained a fantastic guitar duel between Morse and Leonard. I guess they just had to include Something Very Strange as well, because it's one of the highlights taken from Brief Nocturnes And Dreamless Sleep, and it was certainly done in a brilliant way. During the intro of Submerged Ted sang the intro of Broken Wings, a song recorded by the American band Mr. Mister in 1985. During the same song Ted had some microphone problems and used Alan's mike, while a roadie fixed the problem in time to let him end the song using his own gear again. Waiting For Me is another tune they couldn't refuse to do. This great epic piece started as the Genesis track Afterglow (taken from their album Wind And Wuthering released in 1976), and featured an awesome guitar solo done by Alan Morse.

Although the venue could have been more crowded, the Beard played their songs as if they were at a full packed London 02 Arena, so thumbs up to them for giving everything they had to their fans. Thank God the drive back home only took us less than an hour. This time there were no traffic jams and we had a safe journey to our home town, with the amazing music I had heard only a couple of hours earlier still in my head.

Henri Strik (edited by Esther Ladiges)

Live video

      Henri & Roel Strik

Harm's Way (11:06)
Something Very Strange (8:06)
Beware of darkness (6:07)

Setlist Spock's Beard:

Day For Night
Beware Of Darkness
Hiding Out
Harm's Way
Something Very Strange
In The Mouth Of Madness
Snow Medley
Skeletons At The Feast
Waiting For Me
The Healing Colors Of Sound

Pictures Spock's Beard by Arthur Haggenburg

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Click on the picture to enlarge.


Line up Spock's Beard:

(left to right)
Ted Leonard:
lead vocals, acoustic and electric guitars
Dave Meros:
bass, bass pedals and backing vocals
Jimmy Keegan:
drums, lead and backing vocals
Alan Morse:
backing vocals, acoustic and electric guitars
Ryo Okumoto:
keyboards and vocals

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