Fireworks

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Spock's Beard - 'Live At Sea' http://mail.rocktopia.co.uk/media/reviews/photos/thumbnail/200x200s/fa/e9/e7/Spocks-Beard-Live-At-Sea-44-1424117685.jpg Hot

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In a word, essential.

Having seen the band perform with this line-up on their 'Brief Nocturnes And Dreamless Sleep' tour in May 2013 I was hoping that a live recording and/or DVD would follow; it's taken a while but finally there is one, albeit one that took almost a year to come to fruition. The band's released this DVD independently to finance their next album which makes it a vital purchase but you don't need that incentive because this is essential in its own right.

Superbly filmed (and subsequently well edited) aboard the Norwegian Pearl cruise ship during 'The Progressive Nation At Sea' Festival in February of this year, it's splendid and compelling stuff and could only have been improved had it included their other set from the weekend. Or am I just being greedy? The partisan crowd give the show an added frisson as they roar their approval and join in at all the right places.

I make no apology for repeating that each time the band has gone through a substantial change in personnel (departures of Neal Morse and Nick D'Virgilio) I have predicted their demise only to gratefully eat humble pie when subsequently admitting I was wrong and that they'd successfully regrouped and continued to produce music of the highest quality. These guys may sit in the Progressive Rock genre but they know how to write and arrange engaging, thrilling music. In Ted Leonard (Enchant) they have found a vocalist (and multi-instrumentalist) to fill the gigantic shoes of the aforementioned departed members; the current version of the band being just as good as those that have gone before.

Fireworks - The Ultimate Magazine For Melodic Rock Music

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A well chosen set-list brings together the old and the new with three from the 'Brief Nocturnes...' album and three from their early albums. The opening salvo of new numbers 'Something Very Strange' and 'Hiding Out' is spine-tingling with their superb musicianship, stunning melodies and sheer musicality. I can't see how a listener could fail to be drawn in by the themes and refrains that abound on the opening number alone. 'Walking On The Wind' from 1996's 'Beware Of Darkness' album is an inspired choice with Leonard more than doing justice to Morse's legacy. 'Waiting For Me' is another new song and has more incredibly infectious themes right across its twelve or so minutes.

The denouement is the appearance of Neal Morse for the last two songs of the set where he and Leonard share the vocal limelight to brilliant effect. 'June' is a wonderful song and as usual it's delivered superbly while the lengthy and eclectic (the most "Progressive" track in the set) 'The Light' rounds matters out in quite masterly fashion.

In a word, essential.

Gary Marshall

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