Spock’s Beard @ B.B. King Blues Club (4/27/2007)

If you are a fan of great melodic Progressive Rock then you would love what Spock’s Beard do for the genre. We caught their appearance at NYC’s famous venue and provided comments and photos about it. To learn more just scroll past the logo below

Logo - Spocks Beard

Artist: Spock’s Beard
Venue: B.B. King Blues Club (New York, NY)
Opener: n/a
Date: 4/27/2007
Label: InsideOut Music

The return of Spock’s Beard would be a welcome one to the legion of Progressive Rock fans that live in and congregate around the Big Apple. Once again the group would make a stop at the legendary B.B. King Blues Club venue and this room is just perfect for their brand of Prog-Rock wizardry. It seemed that this show would also be a seated event and that is often the case with the Progressive shows since the audience often likes to grab dinner with their drinks as opposed to the Metal crowd. While that makes for difficult navigation for someone like me, it’s interesting to be in one spot and simply absorb the goings on every once in awhile. Tonight I would secure a great spot in the back and allow the melodies to reach out to me from across the venue and when it comes to melody there is probably none better at keeping it interesting than the guys in Spock’s Beard. I had caught them last year around the same time and in the same place for that matter and while I thought that was a great performance I was still too new to the group. This would not be the case tonight for in late 2006 the band released their ninth album on InsideOut Music America, the very aptly named “Spock’s Beard” and across the other gigs on the tour it had been noted that the set was strongly focused on new material. Sometimes a band can pull this off and sometimes they cannot. It seems that Beard can because their fans are devoted enough to always attend their shows and sometimes go to repeat performances. I don’t think they would have a problem showcasing new tunes with this kind of hard core demographic and loyalty. The set tonight would find about seven numbers from the new release as opposed to their more classic material but this was a good thing since the last time they came around they did a lot of this stuff.

As the set began, they launched into the new recordings opener of “On A Perfect Day” and having listened to the latest release I was finding myself quite pleased with its contents. It’s different from what many of their fans have come to expect from them but it is still a Prog recording, yet might lean a little more to the commercial aspect on some of the more prominent numbers. Given the nature of being progressive is the need to change then this is to be expected in some fashion. Musically the guys were slamming and what I realized very quickly as I watched was the fact that the material was heavier in the live sense and this made it all the more powerful. Nick D’Virgilio, their lead vocalist and former drummer has really stepped up into his role as band front man with his incredible voice, musicianship and accommodating stage presence. Spock’s Beard is happy to be doing the shows for the audience and they talk to the crowd throughout the set to add to the feeling of personality that they exude. Guitars are ably handled by Alan Morse who is a fantastic player in his own right and is sure to impress any guitar aficionado in attendance. During the set Alan shows he can rip it up and then also be a subtle and smooth as he feels the tune needs. Of course one of the most incredible performers that Spock’s Beard has in their arsenal is keyboardist Ryo Okumoto and he is a wizard in constant motion and fascinating to watch perform. Ryo brings about four keyboards with him, and while I am not the gear head on that stuff that he actually uses I did see a Leslie Cabinet, Hammond Organ and a Minimoog system. An interesting observation about tonight was the fact that there were other keyboards available for both Nick and bassist Dave Meros. They definitely added to the fullness of the evening and when the guys would begin switching around what they were playing during the set it reminded me a little of Gentle Giant who were of course master multi-instrumentalists. One of my favorite tunes tonight would be “The Slow Crash Landing Man” since it had such a melody and moments that were almost Floyd like. I was finding myself really giving Nick a lot of credit for tonight because he would move from the singer role every so often to jam out on the drums with their touring drummer Jimmy Keegan or as a soloist. He is really a solid and well-rounded drummer and I personally like that he still chooses to play them as opposed to just doing the singing. Keegan is really good as well, and hopefully we shall see him as part of the bands touring roster for years to come.

Some fans might feel that Spock’s Beard has moved farther from the course that they originally were on but this is bound to happen by ones ninth album. In one sense at least Beard has kept truer to the Progressive side than the likes of Marillion who seem to have morphed a little too often for them. The bottom line is the ability that these guys have to deliver an incredible evening of music that leaves you talking about it for weeks afterward and this was what I was left with. The venue tonight would be crowded, but not sold out completely like the last time and I feel that their headlining appearance at ROS Fest the coming Sunday might have contributed to this. Their new album is a great mix of Melodic Progressive Rock that is bound to win over a new audience as well as continue the excellence that their existing fan base finds in them.

Set List:
1. On A Perfect Day
2. Mouth Of Madness
3. Is This Love?
4. All That’s Left
5. Slow Crash Landing Man
6. Crack The Big Sky
7. Return To Whatever
8. Carry On/East Of Eden
9. Surfing Down The Avalanche
10. Thoughts Part II
11. Skeletons At The Feast
12. As Far As The Mind Can See
13. Walking On The Wind
14. Rearranged
15. The Water/Go The Way You Go

Official Web site: www.spocksbeard.com

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