Spock's Beard, 24 October 2000
013, Tilburg, The Netherlands
By Ed Sander
The Curse of 013
It was hardly one year ago since I'd seen 'The Beard' perform in the same venue on their 'Day for Night Tour'. That gig had been a bit of a pain
since the band had to deal with many complications cuased by the fact that the band was filming the show. You can read all about it in last year's review.
So this year they returned again to the 013 to promote their new album V. Even
though I wasn't completely satisfied with this new CD I decided to go see them live anyway because a Spock's Beard concert
is always a real treat. I easily convinced a friend of mine - who'd been impressed by the band's music but had never actually
seen them live - to join me.
While wandering around the hallway of the venue I bumped into Rob Aubrey, better known as IQ's sound engineer, who was
unpacking T-shirt. I was rather surprised to see him here while IQ was in the final stages of finishing their new album, even
though I knew that he had also done The Beard's previous tour. 'This was agreed a long time ago', Rob explained and
while folding some T-shirts grinned and continued: 'They got me selling merchandise'. Later on I also caught IQ Lighting Engineer Lol Dyer shambling around the stage and went over to shake hands.
In sharp contrast with last year's gig, this concert started right on time when the lights went off at 21:00 hours. Guided by a roady with a flashlight Al Morse, dressed in a glitter jacket, entered the stage and seated himself behind a cello. After playing (if I'm not mistaking) the cello intro to At The End of the Day he went straight into The Good Don't Last. The rest of the band walked on stage and joined in for this song from 'Kindness of Strangers'. Immediately it became clear that Al Morse had problems with his equipment (probably his amps). For most of the rest of the gig he and the roadies kept messing about with the knobs, chords and big black boxes. In the meantime the rest of the band continued
with the song of which the introduction and middle part were played, including a snippet of the golden oldie Seasons in the Sun after the lyric 'And everybody knows the words to Seasons in the Sun'.
While Al continued to struggle with his hardware but nevertheless kept dancing around the stage in his trademark spaced out manner, the band continued straight into Thoughts. After this track the band pauzed to give Al a chance to solve his problems. In the meantime Neal Morse - who had called this the 'old 013 curse of failing equipment', referring to last year - and Ryo told silly jokes (Neal: 'What do you call four Mexicans in quicksand ?' .... 'Quatro Sinko' .... Ryo: 'What's difference between like and love ?' .... 'Spit and swallow' .... 'All the ladies here loooove me !').
To break the silence Neal gave a rare performance of Chatauqua, the acoustic guitar ditty from 'Beware of Darkness'. After this nice intermezzo the band continued with a wonderful and powerful rendition of At The End of The Day. I personally thought that this song could have been 5 minutes shorter on the album, but I didn't mind watching it live at all; I really enjoyed all of the energy and action on stage.
Next up were In The Mouth of Madness and Thoughts II, followed by a nice acoustic rendition of Distance to the Sun with Al and Neal on acoustic guitar. I have to admit that I enjoy Al Morse's live play much better on acoustic than on electric guitar. He always seems to have a hard time re-creating those killer guitar pieces on stage and often seems to play out of tune and time. Not on the good old acoustic one.
The full band returned to play the uplifting The Healing Colours of Sound (the song, not the full epic), after which Ryo had his regular 15 minutes of fame in the keyboard solo. Having seen this a couple of times already I really think that this has lost its gimmick value, so I took a break to visit the loo. Arriving back I found Ryo, Dave Meros (bass) and Nick D'Virgilio doing sort of an Emerson Lake and Palmer jam thing. Fortunately this didn't last too long and the band continued with the monster epic from the new album, The Great Nothing. A very predictable tune following the standard Beard Epic pattern, but great fun to watch nevertheless and played with the unsurpassed Spock's Beard live finesse, not counting the continued guitar problems of Al at the end of the song.
Nick joined the rest at the front of the stage for the vocal harmony section of Come Up Breathing and the whole song gained even more strength thanks to the great lighting effects (another good one Lol !).
My friend was obviously enjoying every second of it and watching Neal Morse play keyboards on his knees and headbanging his way around the stage, Al act like a crazy madman and the rest of the band being far from normal as well had him proclaim 'These guys are absolutely mad !'. And he loved it.
The first encore consisted of a medley of old tunes featuring bits from The Water,
The Doorway (including the acoustic middle bit with Al and Neal playing simultaneoulsy on one single acoustic guitar !), The Light, June and Go The Way You Go. Sandwiched between these Beard compositions were a guitar solo by Al Morse (including 2 blues songs with the band) and a drum solo by Nick. When the band closed the track with Go The Way You Go, Ryo had been rocking his keyboards so heavily that they were tipping over and 2 roadies had to hold them while he kept on playing while lying on his back.
The band returned again and did a bit of a roundabout thing, switching instruments and messing around. Eventually Neal convinced Ryo to let him sit behind the drum kit, so you knew what part of the show was coming. And indeed, the band started playing the Genesis cover Squonk while Nick came stomping back on stage to do the lead vocals.
After this the band returned one more time to play Waste Away (including a snippet of Hendrix' Fire at the end), closing a 2 hours and 35 minutes show.
The sound was perfect again (thanks Rob !), besides Al Morse's guitar play the band was in top form and was obviously having
loads of fun on stage, the performance was full of energy and humour.
I've heard people say that they don't like the medleys but I think they are good fun. They ensure a certain 'surprise element' and at the same time enable the band to play (at least part) of the audience favourites. All in all another great concert by a couple of top class musicians. A Beard show is more than just a concert. It's 100% pure entertainment.
Cello Intro ('At The End of the Day' & 'The Good Don't Last')
The Good Don't Last ('Introduction' & 'The Good Don't Last', incl excerpt from 'Seasons to the Sun')
At the End of the Day
In the Mouth of Madness
The Distance to the Sun
The Healing Colors of Sound (pt 2)
Ryo solo (incl. drum + bass section)
The Great Nothing
The Water ('The Water' & 'When It All Goes to Hell')
The Light (One Man)
(snippet of) Go The Way You Go
guitar solo Al (featuring 2 blues songs with band)
drum solo Nick
Go the Way You Go
Jam (with switched instruments)
Total playing time: 2 hours and 35 minutes.