The one album that Spock’s Beard never toured to support was their double concept album “Snow.” Neal Morse left the band immediately following the release of the album (his conversion to Christianity being the reason). So “Snow” was basically left for dead since the remaining band immediately returned to the studio to record their first album without Neal, “Feel Euphoria.” At last year’s “Morsefest,” the current band teamed up with Neal and former drummer Nick D’Virgilio to perform “Snow” in its entirety.
The live album and DVD document the performance and needless to say if you are a fan of Spock’s Beard, this is absolutely ESSENTIAL. The band (including now ex-drummer Jimmy Keegan) sound amazing. The band are clearly enjoying themselves. Neal is very much the center of attention, with Nick taking the occasional lead vocal. NDV does a great job on “Welcome to NYC” which he did not sing on the original album.
While Keegan definitely gets a chance to shine on drums (with NDV), current vocalist Ted Leonard is effectively sidelined and yields to Neal on lead vocal for most of the performance. He finally steps to the fore on “Devil’s Got My Throat” after being basically a rhythm guitarist in the back of the stage until then. It’s a shame because Ted does a great job as usual.
Other than keyboardist Ryo Okumoto, all of the band sing and sing quite well. There are moments when they all trade off vocals, which works very well on “Open the Gates Part 2.” The trio of Neal, NDV, and Ted step forward to sing “Solitary Soul” together and it’s definitely one of the show’s highlights. NDV’s falsetto is as great as ever. Another chance for that great falsetto comes during “Carie” which is still one of my favorite songs on “Snow.” A fantastic performance of it. He sounds great on “Looking for Answers” too!
Alan Morse is definitely one of the most underrated guitarists in all of prog, with his unique style (no guitar pick). Ryo is not only a keyboard wiz but he is always fun to watch. Like any great bassist Dave Meros is rock solid and unfortunately with such a crowded stage, he is left toward the back and doesn’t get a ton of camera time. Neal of course gets plenty especially when things get a bit dramatic during “I’m Dying.” Jimmy gets a lead vocal on “Freak Boy, Part 2” which is very cool. I have to admit that after seeing this, I really wish he hadn’t left the band.
The encores are phenomenal as well. “June” has some incredible vocals by the whole band (except Ryo of course!). And the live premier of the new epic “Falling For Forever” which was originally released on the 2015 compilation “The First Twenty Years.” The song sounds great live and makes for a fitting closer to a truly epic night.
“Snow” always seemed like a clear indication that Neal was going to pursue a more Christian direction with his music. The central character was a Christ figure of sorts and the album is a very positive story of miracles and redemption. Part of me felt that Neal left the band more so he could have more artistic freedom, not that the band ever protested his leadership. “Snow” was the crossroads in many ways for Neal and Spock’s Beard.
This live performance finally gives this album it’s due that it never was allowed. I’ve often been critical of the “Snow” album but this performance actually points out all of the album’s strength and is arguably better than the studio album.
1. Made Alive/Overture
2. Stranger In A Strange Land
3. Long Time Suffering
4. Welcome To NYC
5. Love Beyond Words
6. The 39th Street Blues (I’m Sick)
7. Devil’s Got My Throat
8. Open Wide The Flood Gates
9. Open The Gates Part 2
10. Solitary Soul
11. Solitary Soul (continuation)
12. Wind At My Back
13. Second Overture
14. 4th Of July
1. I’m The Guy
4. Looking For Answers
5. Freak Boy
6. All Is Vanity
7. I’m Dying
8. Freak Boy Part 2
9. Devil’s Got My Throat Revisited
10. Snow’s Night Out
11. Ladies And Gentlemen, Mister Ryo Okumoto On The Keyboards
12. I Will Go
13. Made Alive Again/Wind At My Back
2. Falling For Forever