Neal Morse Band Islington Assembly Hall 24-3-19
I was a little late to the party with The Neal Morse Band's last double concept album The Similitude Of A Dream but managed to see the London show playing the album in full and was amazed at the connection between the band and it's audience.
For this tour we get the new opus The Great Adventure in full and yes it is a double concept too and with the huge queue outside the venue the air of anticipation hung in the air.
No support and at 8 o'clock the lights dimmed and Bill Hubauer on keys and Neal Morse start an epic journey that had acoustic segments,orchestral passages,heavy prog,time changes a plenty and vocal interplay and back ground vocals to die for all with visuals aiding the performance.
It's a shame there is only 1 UK show as there is so much going on musically you could really watch it all more than once and see what you had missed.
Every one plays their part from Randy George on bass and face pulling,Neal Morse on vocals,guitar and keys and numerous costume changes and after losing his most important bag through customs having to deal with a new vocal microphone that either went under his chin or up his nose!!.Mike Portnoy on drums who like last time doesn't overplay it yes plenty of fills and playing like only Mike can but it's about the collective and last but no means least Eric Gillette.
I was blown away by Eric on the last tour and his guitar work on Mike Portnoy's Shattered Fortress was stunning and tonight well I can honestly say the man is a star.Blown away with his guitar work with some of his solo's just incredible to watch his fingers at such close quarters was a life highlight.His melodic tone was a joy and his voice melodic and with a huge range.He could do no wrong and after many of his solo's our side of the venue saluted him.
The set was in 2 halves like the cd's with so many highlights.Welcome To The World was a crowd favourite with the chorus sang with huge force back at the band and the vocals be lead or backing superb.
Dark Melody had the first jaw dropping Eric guitar solo before he then shone vocally on I Got To Run with it's heavy riff sounded awesome with a sound mix that was just right.
The Great Adventure had Neal at his cheerleader best and and lead vocals with Eric dipping in and out too with Neal then a key solo and guitar the man never stops.
Venture In Black was heavy prog at it's finest with Portnoy shining as only he can before the intermission gave us all time to breathe.
Overture 2 had another Eric solo off the scale and Mike took lead vocals on Welcome To The World 2 with Hubauer vocally impressing too on The Child Of Wonder.
The Great Despair was truly inspirational with Eric on vocals and Neal impressing on slide guitar before the end guitar solo from Eric having every hair on my body standing to attention as Eric's outro solo showed emotion,passion and tone that words fail to do justice.Wow.
Set closer A Love That Never Dies with Eric again showing off his vocal range to it's fullest and guitar soloing too built it to a climax that had Neal in tears at the audience reaction as it finished.
How do you follow that?With a 25 minute Neal medley of songs with the following played that's how.
The Land Of Beginning Again
The Temple Of The Living God
It's For You
Broken Sky/Long Day (Reprise)
All played with a love for the music and with more vocal interplay that was a masterclass few can match and all ending at the end of the Similitude opus with Eric again on vocals and more guitar soloing from the gods and the evening ended with a standing ovation and Neal in tears.It was that good.
Truly life affirming that music can inspire that feeling.I'm not a spiritual person and Neal's message is always that but with out forcing it and no one present couldn't have felt touched and inspired by what we had seen.Truly amazing.
If only we could them to play Similitude and Adventure back to back now?It's only 4 hours and we you don't need an encore!!!