CD Reviews

Neal Morse - 'Live Momentum' Hot

Added by Central Electronic Brain     July 17, 2013    
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Live package consisting of 3CDs and 2DVDs.

In the world of Prog there's nothing quite as reliable as Neal Morse; reliable because of the quality of his work and the frequency of his output, be it solo, with Transatlantic or Flying Colors. Also, invariably a tour is followed by an expansive recording on either CD, DVD or as in this case both.

Spread across 3CDs and 2DVDs this package delivers the complete show from a gig at the High Line Ballroom, New York in October 2012 plus an hour of bonus documentary comprising footage filmed by the band members, and others, as they toured. Better than your average 'extras' there's a rather splendid impromptu rendition of Peter Gabriel's 'In Your Eyes', which serves to reinforce the sheer quality of the musicians involved. Morse wanted to put a proper band together and one of the impacts of recruiting Adson Sodré (guitar) and Eric Gillette (guitar & keyboards) has been a metal-isation of the sound, notably on 'Author Of Confusion' and sections of 'Testimony Suite'. There are strong hints at Dream Theater heaviness and soloing, hitherto unknown with Morse's solo work, particularly on 'The Conflict' from the 'Sola Scriptura' album. It certainly gives a new dimension to his sound. Needless to say Mike Portnoy's drumming is spectacular throughout; you'd expect nothing less.

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The delicate beauty of the Spock's Beard classic 'Distance To The Sun' gets an airing and is perfectly placed after the hyperactivity of the aforementioned 'Author..'. The harmonies are quite stunning. Prior to this, the set had opened with rousing renditions of 'Momentum' and 'Weathering Sky' from the latest album and later we get served 'Thoughts Part 5' from the same album, complete with obligatory and brilliantly executed a Capella section. Some of the keyboard sounds differ from the original giving the song a twist. A second medley, this time from the 'Question Mark' album provides Morse with means of covering a lot of his catalogue in one go and his new band give these songs a slightly different feel. An impassioned 'Fly High' is a short song sitting between two epics as 'Momentum's' centre-piece 'World Without End' is laid before the listener next. It's a fabulous track that spans a variety of tempos and feels but retains the ability to stick in the brain thanks to its array of sparkling themes, refrains and melodies.

My heart sank a little when I saw The Osmonds 'Crazy Horses' on the menu as one of the encores but it works rather well, not least because Portnoy, who sings while Morse takes on drumming duties, is so passionate about it in the story that prefaces the song. The set is rounded out by 'Sing It High' and 'King Jesus' with the former turning into a solos section where everyone gets to show off a bit, while the latter is a suitably joyous conclusion to proceedings.

My expectations of Morse are probably unrealistically high but when he delivers like this who can blame me?

Gary Marshall

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