Concert Review Archive

 

Beardfish & Neal Morse Band

Friday, 6th March 2015
De Boerderij, Zoetermeer, the Netherlands

Article and Video By André de Boer
and Article by Jeroen Henstra

André de Boer

An exciting difficult one, this night. Both bands are into the hearts of many and I heard some people say what I was thinking. Am I really here for the main act, or should this have been a dual headlining show? The fact is that we all love Neal Morse very much for his ever perfect shows and at the same time the Beardfish guys are doing another attractive act, with charm, appeal and a distinctive sound from Sweden. Both prog, both attractive and so…different. Plus…a full house tonight!

Jeroen Henstra

On 6 march 2015, Neal Morse once again visited prog temple De Boerderij in Zoetermeer for a sold out concert. This time he played under the name The Neal Morse band, in support of their album The Grand Experiment.

 

Beardfish

André de Boer

Only a tiny little patch of the stage was available for Beardfish doing their gig. Pushed to the front of the podium because of all Neal’s gear that was already installed. A bit of scoffing really, so little space left. I would rather have had the break being five minutes longer for setting up. Anyway, Beardfish used it to show us that you don’t need a killer drumkit to do an impressive drumming job! Or an excellent gig. To show us that reaching the heart doesn’t need a big stage. Their typical sound, the joy they show playing their adorable compositions, the atmosphere. All of this made me and most of us feel like enjoying a main act. And Beardfish is a main act. Very cool really. The band presented an interesting new keyboard player Martin Borgh and Rikard was playing with his voice while combining singing with playing either keys or guitar. Add to that the quiet David on guitar and jumping Robert on bass. And did I mention what the drummer achieved with his simple kit? Anyway, The Comfort Zone songs are brilliant and played in a brilliant way, plus bringing their greatest song Ludvig & Sverker to end up with a blast. Too short a set but every second of it was loved. Take a look at the live video below to get an impression.

Jeroen Henstra

Support act were Swedish rockers Beardfish. Normally I don’t really like support acts, but this time I was actually looking forward to it, as I think they are a great band. The quintet kicked in with Hold On from their new album +4626-COMFORTZONE, followed by three more songs from this fantastic album. The band were in great form, bursting with energy. Singer Rikard Sjöblom has a really dynamic voice, ranging from warm singing to ferocious screams. He is a fine piano and guitar player to. Of particular interest also was bass player Robert Hansen, who drew attention with his madman walks and funny faces. The music came across very well, from the delicate guitar solos of Comfort Zone to the heavy riffs and screams of King. The crowd were very responsive, rightfully giving great cheers of applause after each song. Last song was Ludvig & Sverker from 2012’s The Void, a song so sad that I can hardly listen to it. The performance did fall apart a bit, but it was nonetheless a brave set closer. I wouldn’t have minded another song or two, though!

Setlist Beardfish
Hold On
Comfort Zone
If We Must Be Apart
King
Ludvig & Sverker
 

Neal Morse Band

André de Boer

Well, yes, Neal. We all love Neal. His music and the musicians he brings along always are a delight. Top class. And Neal is a real performer. He is there, the centre of the show, and the audience loves it. Including me. Knowing he has the imperturbable Randy George on bass, the hyperactive Mike Portnoy on the monster kit, the savouring keys and sax of Bill Hubauer and of course great lead guitarist Eric Gillette next to him, a show like this is a treat. And, you know, if this lot is playing Spock’s Beard wonderful groovy “Harm’s Way” the audience will probably like it! The most awesome Beard song made everyone crazy indeed. And because these are crafted musicians each one did a little on his own and even swapped instruments on “Alive Again”. Randy on bass pedals, Eric on keys, Neal on drums, Bill on guitar and stuff. Neal did his solo on acoustic guitar, singing about his daughter’s heart condition. From my position I could see the tears on his cheeks. Touching. And with a host of singing along encores this wonderful night came to a smashing end. Try or relive it playing the video below.

Jeroen Henstra

The break that followed was rather long. It was announced that this show was filmed for a future release, so cameras had to be adjusted and so on. Finally The Neal Morse Band entered the stage on some intro music, neatly segueing into the a capella intro of The Call, opener and one of the best songs on The Grand Experiment. Although for some reason I never saw Neal Morse solo before, I did attend some Transatlantic concerts and the amazing musicianship and enthusiasm of Neal Morse and Mike Portnoy is always a great joy to watch and listen to. This time was no different and Randy George, Eric Gillette and Bill Hubauer only added to this, both in the instrumental and vocal departments. If the show opener didn’t prove their capabilities, the insane runs down fretboards, keyboards and toms in Leviathan certainly did. The crowd went crazy after these two songs and this would continue through the entire show. After the title track of the new album, two Spock’s Beard classics were performed, Harm’s Way and the beautiful ending section of Go The Way You Go. The segue between the two sounded a bit messy, though. A nice keyboard solo of Bill Hubauer led to the intro of The Creation, in my opinion one of the best Neal Morse epics, if not the best. I really lost myself in the music now; an absolutely fantastic performance which was followed by a deafening ovation that moved Neal Morse to tears. He then played a solo piece on acoustic guitar, on which he had some difficulty remembering the lyrics. Nonetheless, his heartfelt performance got a great response. The next highlight was the delicate Waterfall; the vocal harmonies and Hubauer’s clarinet solo gave me goosebumps. Amazing! The next solo spot was for guitar player Eric Gillette, followed by In The Fire from the ? album. This is not one of my favourite songs and I think it dragged on a bit too long. I would have preferred a selection from Sola Scriptura, but unfortunately this wasn’t to happen tonight… The main set was off course closed with Alive Again, the big epic from The Grand Experiment. In my opinion this isn´t of Morse´s most cohesive pieces, but it was big fun live, with a (more or less obligatory) extended jam. Here the band members exchanged instruments; if I remember well everybody played on all instruments with Randy George outdoing the rest by playing guitar and keyboards at the same time! Over the top, tongue-in-cheek prog extravaganza: just the way everybody liked it, judging from the deafening applause that followed.

Overture no. 3 played from ´tape´ and then the band returned for a medley of Rejoice, Oh Lord My God, the first half of Reunion and King Jesus. All very uplifting songs, but I really missed the sensitive songs from Testimony, like Somber Days or I Am Willing. I understand that those are skipped, though, as they have been played so often already. And I must say that King Jesus is a great concert closer. During this song Neal Morse walked through the audience in the main hall and on the balcony while singing and playing, which ended the show in complete party atmosphere.

I had some small personal disappointments about the setlist, but thanks to the fantastic musicianship and great crowd response, this was a very memorable concert. I am looking forward to the DVD (if Neal Morse finds time for this between the Morsefests and many other projects…).

Setlist Neal Morse Band
The Call
Leviathan
The Grand Experiment
Harm's Way / Go the Way You Go (Spock’s Beard cover)
Keyboard solo by Bill Hubauer
The Creation
There Is Nothin' That God Can't Change - acoustic solo Neal Morse
Waterfall
Guitar solo by Eric Gillette
In the Fire
Alive Again

Overture no. 3
Rejoice
Oh Lord My God
Reunion
King Jesus
 

Conclusion

A great night filled with two headliners. Good to see two fan bases mix so everyone enjoyed all.

Links
Neal Morse Band Official Website

Beardfish Official Website

De Boerderij

 


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