Spock's Beard
Live at Tivoli, Utrecht (18-Jan-98)
and Zeche, Bochum (20-Jan-98)

By Erik Gorissen

Having been to the Beard shows in Utrecht and Bochum, the following are just some impressions on which I personally fix why the Beard is so special, why they have "assimilated" me, why they are not like any other band, and why they are an incredible live band. So here are some moments taken from the two shows I experienced:

  • First of all, I have to mention the extreme degree of fun all five guys obviously have on stage. Each of them is on the one hand an entertainer (in fact a band with five frontmen!!), but on the other hand part of the audience as well, watching each other and having as much fun as the audience themselves. Each of them seemed to be completely fascinated and enthusiastic about everything turning out to work so well, and they seemed to be all happy that they were receiving so much approval and dedication from the crowd.

  • Highly impressing was how each of them (apart from Ryo who didn't sing) turned out to be a great vocalist live just as well as on CD, especially during Thoughts: The way they were catapulting their respective vocal part with an enormous power towards the audience was awesome and reminded me of the live version of Pink Floyd's Run like hell (Delicate sound of thunder). In fact, we were confronted with a kind of thunderstorm here as well...

  • I couldn't take my eyes off Neal: Did you notice how much fun and enthusiasm he actually had while playing the keyboard? The way he looked down to his black and white keys as if he was a wizard, thinking: "What awesome notes can I elict from this magic instrument next...?", or as if he was a cook who is collecting all the best ingrediences that makes up a delicious meal and getting more and more excited about what is taking shape in front of his eyes, while his mouth already starts to water. Or the way he stepped back from his keyboard every now and then, and, coming back to his instrument, it seemed as if he was already drooling with anticipation to play the next tune, as if the notes had just occured to him by divine inspiration.

  • The guitar duet of the Morse brothers in The Doorway: Neal is reaching for his twelve string guitar, is just about beginning to play, and his brother appears just behind him, prepared to play along together with him. Neal glances back with moving confidence, as if saying to himself, look, my brother is with me, nothing can go wrong now, together we're strong... (of course, nothing could ever go wrong anyway as it comes to SB!). Incredible, I mean the level of fun they have playing together, the great ingenuity, as if one just needs to have a short listen to what his brother plays, and then joins him to play along the same kind of improvisation together with him, reading the thoughts of his brother in order to achieve perfect harmony, as if they were siamese twins sharing the same thoughts.

  • To watch Dave standing right in the middle of this great event was quite amusing too: He was constantly looking at his bandmates, from one to another, grinning, completey enjoying the show and having great fun just watching the others do their jokes.

  • Alan playing his beerbottle bottle"neck" guitar solo (Bochum only): It just came across as if he saw the bottle and thought, "What crazy things could I now do with this.. for some reason it happens to stand withing my reach, so lets see if it will be of any use...". Kneeling down then, getting fully into it, he played that solo, without running any risk that it might come accross out of place.

  • During June Nick came from behind his drum set, stopping his highly gifted first-rate drumming for a few minutes, showing that he even wouldn't have any problem to tackle the job of the frontman himself - he's not some kind of drummer in the background, he can moreover sing, he's got charisma, he is an indispensable part of the show!

  • Not to forget the Ryo's solo, one to always remember: He's probably the first (?) keyboarder to run around in the audience during his solo, gliding across the floor on his back (!) while Neal ran around capturing the whole thing on video... That was the funniest and most inspired keyboard solo since Keith Emerson stabbed his keyboard with a knife on stage ages ago!!!

  • But above all I have to agree with Barbara about this certain feeling that could be traced among the audience, the feeling of something really big and important being on its way that has only just begun. These guys have the potential to lose their insider status much sooner as they themselves might think they will - at least I really hope so!!!

  • I could go on for ages with my enthousiastic praises, but I better stop now before I'm really getting in ecstasy about that band. ;-)

By the way: In the liner notes of Beware of Darkness it says that Neal plays the "boring" guitar parts. There is only one thing about that: I wished I could play guitar in such a "boring" way...!!! Not to forget the keyboard playing and singing ... and all three at the same time eventually!! ;-)


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