Went with Chris (from my band, BAiT) to see Spock’s Beard yesterday evening at The Mean Fiddler in London. Spock’s beard are a third generation Progressive Rock band from the USA, and have something in common with another great Progressive Rock band, Genesis, in that their original lead singer has left and their drummer has stepped up to fill the role of lead vocalist, although in Spock’s Beard’s case, the original singer (Neal Morse) did it because God told him to (whince).
Anyway, back to the gig. I have been a fan of Spock’s Beard for around five years, since an old university friend of mine (and fellow Prog fan) told me to give them a listen, and this was the first time I had seen them live. I can honestly say that they are without doubt one of the finest, most entertaining acts I have ever seen live, and I have seen some of the ‘classic’ rock acts.
They have been doing a swift European tour and the four of them (plus their excellent tour drummer) put on a blinder of a show, featuring crazy keyboard antics, courtesy of Rio Okumoto. Last night happened to be the last night of the tour and featured, as a special guest, the drummer from Prog Metal outfit Dream Theater, Mike Portnoy. The only slight disappointment for me was that their bass player, Dave Meros, was not playing his beautiful Rickenbacker 4001 bass, because it’s in for repairs, although I (grudgingly) have to admit that he did get pretty close to the Ric sound using a Fender – not quite there, but close enough not to ruin it for me.
The setlist featured songs from their most recent album, Octane, which I’m really starting to like a lot now, and some older material from the days when they were fronted by original vocalist, Neal Morse. Nick D’Virgilio has certainly grown into his role as lead vocalist since his debut in the role on the band’s previous album, and I’m sure things can only get better, so long as they remain true to their style and don’t ‘sell out’ like Genesis did or like Mike Oldfield seems to have done.
Speaking of Mr Oldfield… Following my recent tirade, I found the interview to which I eluded and he says (and I quote), “…computers are the cancer of popular music and destroy it. Little kids put the radio on and think they’re hearing real people. In reality, a computer programmer is manipulating digital samples of other people. This development is terrible and I’ve firmly decided to fight this trend with all my energy.” Tja, right Mike – that’ll be why your last few albums have been principally performed by them. Tsk!