Neal Morse: ?Live
Neal Morse - ?Live - [Radiant records]


Honestly, I've put a lot of thought to which album would open up my reviews in 2008, and all of the optional artists were all good, and you will see their reviews go online in a short while. What made me choose Neal Morse's double live album? The same motive which seems to drive Neal himself while writing his music. Pure emotion.

I've said it once before, and I'll say it again. Of all solo albums Neal has released since leaving his home band Spock's Beard, the "?" album is my favorite one. All his new solo albums are brilliant in my opinion, but this one has sat right in as my favorite, making this live album a long time awaited experience for me.

Making a long story short, the "?" album is a 12 track concept album, talking about the Tabernacle, which In the bible is dwelling place of god. Where only the pure ones can go near. The album, tells the story from a different point of view, not the one who can enjoy the blessing of the lord, but the outsider, the stranger, the one left out. At the end, he too, finds a way into the loving arms of the lord, and embraces him into his heart.

As for the musicians behind the album, other then Morse Himself, you can find his two, I would say permanent band members, Mike Portnoy (Dream theater's drummer), Randy George on bass. But adding colour, you can find Jordan Rudess from Dream Theater as well, Alan Morse, Neal's brother and Spock's beard excellent guitarist, and on top of all, the brilliant Steve Hackett, from the good old original Genesis.

As I said before, this is a double live album. The 1st disc is the entire "?" album done live onstage, and the second disc is compiled of excerpts from the "one" album and an encore built on some Transatlantic and Spock's Beard Medly.

Morse, who left his leading role in Spock's Beard for a more religious life, has been filed under Christian Rock as much as he's been filed under prog rock. The content of his albums is very religious, and so as a lot of his current fans. His devotion to his faith, is for me, one of the things that make this album such a unique uplifting experience.

I can understand why Some people, who like good music, but aren't big religion fans might find the religious aspect, that has become such a major role in Neal's music and being quite detaching for them. But if you have an open mind, and an open heart, you owe this album to yourself. You will discover over 2 hours of music that comes from a place, that is even purer the joy of music itself.

The live band Morse has gathered around blends perfectly between the staying true the original arrangements and a freshness live authentic feeling. They improvise, relive it, creating a spiritual ecstasy in their own notes. They send out a feeling of pure fun and true emotion as much they show professional skills and technique.

Neal finds several magical moments in which he talks to his enthusiastic audience. Words like "Love", "Spirit", "Excitement" are some of vocabulary you'll need to describe this event. His monologue about Ezekiel 37 , (the story of the valley of the dry bones, telling the story of how god promises to Ezekiel that he will breathe spiritual life into those dry bones) sends his crowed into the air with excitement and new re-found energy. At that moment, it seems like Neal is the one breathing spiritual life into that venue.

Another beautiful moment is actually a family moment. Neal brings his son , Will, to sing "man's" part in the beautiful "Cradle to grave" taken from the "One" album. In "Reunion", the closing track (encore excluded) Neal uses his audience for adding more vocals to the finishing part, making the show a true spiritual happening.

Neal Morse - on stage
Spiritual Life
Neal Morse does no separation between his strong belief in the lord and his music. Everything that Morse puts out on stage is a great band, playing great material along pure, strong, and complete faith. And as it seems, nothing gets lost in translation, everything the crowd receives from him, is exactly those qualities.

Morse's concert is much more then a well played rock concert. It's a true celebration of music, spiritual life and the essence of the human existence. It doesn't matter if you're Christian, Jewish, Muslim. If you have a heart, you need to hear this.

Roy Povarchik

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