Saturday, June 4, 2022

Neal Morse Band @ Trianon, Paris - June 4th, 2022

It's hard to believe it's been twenty years since Neal Morse found Jesus and quit Neo-Prog heroes Spock's Beard. Fans of the Nashville-based musician might have been apprehensive at first, but it's worked out quite well for everyone since he has been incredibly prolific with his many projects like Prog supergroup Transatlantic, Flying Colors, his solo career and the Neal Morse Band, which is touring the world in support of their brilliant new concept album Innocence and Danger, a large portion of which was performed at the venerable Trianon theater last night.

Given the credentials of the players on stage, the musicianship was obviously extremely high: superstar drummer Mike Portnoy and bassist Randy George form a formidable rhythm section, and guitarist Eric Gillette is an impressive lead player. Neal Morse of course is a very emotive singer but the real star here is the material: large excerpts from their magnum opus The Similitude of a Dream were played, as well as a few tracks from The Great Adventure. Nothing from Neal Morse's other musical ventures, but the audience knew not to expect any Spock's Beard for instance.

Looking like a cruise ship entertainer or a member of the Gemstone family with his golden shirt and mic headset, Neal Morse is an engaging and energetic frontman. One of the (many) strengths of this band is that every member is a gifted singer in their own right, and nowhere is it more apparent than on the songs in which they all sing together in stunning harmony such as on first set closer Waterfall.

The second set was a veritable prog-rock extravaganza where the band played their long, sprawling epics such as City of Destruction, Welcome to the World and Long Day, which had the audience on their feet, singing every word and cheering at every heroic solo. While the music is somewhat demanding, it is also oddly accessible thanks to the uplifting lyrics and gorgeous melodies, enhanced by a powerful and elegant light show, which all adds up to one of the best shows the progressive rock genre has to offer.

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