Concert Review: The Neal Morse Band – La Tulipe, Montreal – February 25th 2015

http://nepa.nl/cms/wp-content/uploads/Dutch-Warehousing-Conditions-FENEX-UK.pdf It was a long arduous road to Montreal for the Neal Morse Band. Stuck at the border for almost the entire day, the band showed up to the venue really late. I arrived about 15 minutes before the stated start time, and the crew was still doing line checks!

People were sent up to the balcony, then transfered to the basement where the coat check is located so that the band could sound check out of sight. Details slowly trickled in, including the fact that the local opening act (long running prog rock act Mystery) would not play, in an attempt to speed up the process. Quite a few people had come for them and were really unhappy of that situation; I hope they enjoyed the show nonetheless! Lots of people worried about taking the last metro too, and all the VIP people were told their meet & greet would only happen after the show.

Neal Morse

Neal Morse (Neal Morse Band Montreal February 25 2015 – Photo by Jean-Frederic Vachon)

Still, people stayed in good spirits, and the show finally went on slightly after 10PM. The band was loudly cheered as they came on stage and went into the soaring vocal harmonies of  “The Call”, from the “Grand Experiment” album (see my review here). The caliber of musicians on stage was amazing, and each of them took turns dazzling the crowd. This wasn’t a shred fest by any means, but no one shied away from showing their chops, especially guitarist Eric Gillette. They followed with “Leviathan” from the “Lifeline” album, and the title track to “The Grand Experiment”. Morse then announced, to the crowd’s delight, that they would play an old Spock’s Beard song, “Harm’s Way” which segued into another Spock Beard’s vintage track,  “Go the Way You Go”.

Neal Morse (Neal Morse Band Montreal February 25 2015 - Photo by Jean-Frederic Vachon)

Neal Morse (Neal Morse Band Montreal February 25 2015 – Photo by Jean-Frederic Vachon)

After a short keyboard solo from Bill Hubauer, they played “The Creation”, and then Morse grabbed an acoustic guitar and played “There is Nothing That God Can’t Change” solo on stage. “Waterfall” followed, with bassist Randy George playing keyboards, and Hubauer playing guitar and clarinet. (He would later play saxophone too!)

Randy George (Neal Morse Band Montreal February 25 2015 - Photo by Jean-Frederic Vachon)

Randy George (Neal Morse Band Montreal February 25 2015 – Photo by Jean-Frederic Vachon)

Guitarist Eric Gillette then played a very interesting solo, with clean arpeggiated chords that led into some shredding. It was obvious why Mike Portnoy has said he reminds him of a young John Petrucci. “In the Fire” and the 27 minute epic “Alive Again” concluded the main set in brilliant fashion.

Bill Hubauer (Neal Morse Band Montreal February 25 2015 - Photo by Jean-Frederic Vachon)

Bill Hubauer (Neal Morse Band Montreal February 25 2015 – Photo by Jean-Frederic Vachon)

Because of the delay in starting the show, I unfortunately had to leave before the 4 track encore, According to setlist.fm, they played “Rejoice”, “Oh Lord My God”, a cover of Wings’ “Jet” and “Reunion” to close the evening.

It’s always a pleasure to see such talented musicians, and I could watch Mike Portnoy play drums all day. Progressive rock fans were definitely in for a treat with these guys.

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Jean-Frederic Vachon

Manager in the video game industry by day, rock journalist by night, Jean-Frédéric fills every waking moment of his life with music. Diary of a Music Addict is the little corner of the Internet he's claimed for himself to share his passion with the world.

He's also a regular contributor at the very rad site Montreal Rampage
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