By Lorraine Kay
March 2006 – Appearing for one night only, the prog rock band Spock’s Beard will be in concert at House of Blues in Hollywood this coming Sunday, April 10th. This is the final date in a tour that originated in Europe and the final date for local fans to see this band live until possibly this fall.
There was some concern when one founding member of SB departed in 2002, Neal Morse, as to whether Spock’s trademark sound had departed. But with the release of their latest CD, “Octane”, in January, all fears were cast aside. “Octane” proves that the band relied equally on the contributions of all five players as can be witnessed in Sunday’s performance.
Without Neal at the helm, the band has leaned into more standard rock environments with a streamlined sound and a slightly more aggressive approach. But “Octane” still has plenty of complex musical passages for prog rock fans.
Musical fireworks have always been one of SB’s main draws and there is no reason to be disappointed this time out. There’s a mountain of instrumental virtuosity displayed on “Octane”. Drummer Nick D’Virgilio (who also drums for Tears for Fears) took over as frontman on vocals when Neal left, but most of the songs are centered around Neal’s brother and co-founder, Alan Morse’s, crunchy guitar-work. Just as significant are the contributions by both keyboardist Ryo Okomoto and bassist Dave Meros, who shine in their own right.
Focusing on tracks from the new CD the band is sure to present their latest epic track. The eight-part “A Flash Before My Eyes” tells the story of a man watching his life flash before his eyes at the moment of his death. It takes the listener through the blizzard of memories that follow the moment after the windshield explodes.
SB has all the elements that should please all prog rock fans. According to Alan the band will focus on songs from the latest CD. They are supercharged by artsy, not-so-subtle nuances ranging from brief Theremin and generous Mellotron, Clav, Hammond and an array of synths, both old and new, to symphonic flourishes and ominous guitar jams. The band’s hard-rocking new focus has been compared to “a freshly emerged butterfly”, with songs ranging from heavy odd-metered headbanging to melodic outings of stunning beauty and sensitivity.
Critics have compared this outing of SB to be one of its best. The CD is right on top with “It might even be in company with some of the greatest rock albums ever made. It’s on par with The Who’s Who’s Next, Rush’s Moving Pictures, Pink Floyd’s Dark Side Of The Moon, and Kansas’ Song For America.”