Thursday night was my first experience seeing the Neal Morse Band live. My main exposure to them was through the drummer of the band, Mike Portnoy, who is a progressive rock legend who has been involved in projects crossing a multitude of genres over the past 30 years. He is not alone, however, as a master musician as this band is full of hand-picked musicians that are the cream of the crop of their instrument. I was excited to see how the live show would live up to the musical mastery of the studio album.
Waiting outside Gas Monkey Live, people were grouped together not only to stay warm, but also to share stories of past concerts, cruises, and gatherings for the Neal Morse faithful. The environment surrounding the discussions reminded me of similar crowds discussing past shows by The Grateful Dead, Dream Theater, or even Dave Matthews Band. Everyone had a story to tell about a long ago show or meeting a band member. It intrigued me to see so much energy and camaraderie before the doors to the venue had even opened.
Once inside, the energy did not dissipate and only seemed to grow the closer we got to show time. I had the opportunity to speak to a group of four who made the trip from Phoenix, AZ just to see the show and every one of them relayed stories about how Neal Morse has impacted their lives through his music over the past two decades, spanning all his projects.
The show was a song-by-song playing of their latest album, The Great Adventure, and I could immediately sense what everyone had been telling me all night. The band is not only supremely talented at every single position, but there was a theatrical element that edged the show into a territory that was all its own. There were costume changes between songs to align with the story being told and each band member sang vocals on at least one song throughout the evening, detailing the over arching message of the album.
The bands previous album, The Similitude of a Dream, was a partial retelling of John Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress, while this latest album is from the perspective of the Pilgrim’s abandoned son and deals with the issues of abandonment, anger, and fighting for your place in the world. This led to some very emotional and stirring moments during the live show that was measurable in the crowd. By the end of the night, I was left both awestruck that the live show had measured up to the studio album, but also how much the theatrics enriched the story.
The Neal Morse Band will be on tour in the US through March 9th before kicking off a European Tour later in the month.
– Robb Miller
– click to enlarge photos –
Neal Morse Band Tour Dates
Mar. 01 Lawrence, KS – Granada Theater
Mar. 02 Denver, CO – Summit Music Hall
Mar. 05 Seattle, WA – The Triple Door
Mar. 06 Portland, OR – Hawthorne Theatre
Mar. 07 San Francisco, CA – Slim’s
Mar. 08 Whittier, CA – Center Theater
Mar. 09 Chandler, AZ – Chandler Center for the Arts – Bogel Theater
Mar. 24 London, UK – Islington Assembly Hall
Mar. 25 Paris, France – L’Alhambra
Mar. 26 Tilburg, Netherlands – O13
Mar. 27 Luxemburg – Rockhal Esch Sur Alzette
Mar. 29 Koln, Germany – Kantine
Mar. 30 Copenhagen, Denmark – Viften
Mar. 31 Goteborg, Sweden – Stora Teatern
Apr. 01 Stockholm, Sweden – Skandiascenen
Apr. 03 Berlin, Germany – Heimathafen
Apr. 04 Hamburg, Germany – Markthalle
Apr. 05 Leipzig, Germany – Halle d / Werk 2
Apr. 06 Warsaw, Poland – Progresja
Apr. 07 Brno, Czech Rep. – Sono
Apr. 09 Munich, Germany – Technikum
Apr. 10 Pratteln, Switzerland – Z7
Apr. 11 Lyon, France – Ninkasi Kao
Apr. 12 Trezzo sull’Adda, Italy – Live Music Club
Apr. 13 Barcelona, Spain – Salamandra 1
Apr. 14 Madrid, Spain – Sala Mon