Ryo Okumoto and ‘The Myth of the Mostrophus’ live in Los Angeles
Earlier this year the legendary Ryo Okumoto of Spock’s Beard fame released a brand new solo album in collaboration with numerous musicians from the prog scene.
Featuring such legends as Nick D’Virgilio, Alan Morse, Ted Leonard, Jimmy Keegan, as well as being mixed by Rich Mouser – this may as well be another Spock’s Beard album featuring a tonne more special guests ranging from Steve Hackett to Randy McStine.
And on these two nights in Los Angeles at the Champion Site and Sound venue, I was lucky enough to be in attendance for the only live shows put on in support of this record. And I’ll be honest, it was a bit of an expensive and impulsive trek – but my god was it worth it.
The set started off with ‘The Watchmaker’, so the live band didn’t commit to playing the album in order from the get-go. This did however lead to better pacing of the evening as it went on, so I can’t be salty about that!
‘Maximum Velocity’, ‘Turning Point’, and ‘Mirror Mirror’ were up next to give the audience all flavours of the latest album – but that’s right where the set started to diverge.
‘Walking on the Wind’ was performed next, obviously with Alan Morse returning on guitar. Given it’s been a good 4 years since I last caught any Spock’s material played live, this was a real treat to hear – especially as such a deep cut from their early discography.
‘Godzilla vs. King Ghidarah’ and ‘Free Fall’ were also in the set, numbers from Ryo’s previous solo album ‘Coming Through’ (2002). The band reduced to a three-piece for Godzilla and cranked out some pretty nuts improvisation between keys, bass, and drums. A special mention has to go to Pete Griffin (bass) who was jamming out like no other on fretless throughout the track. Mesmerising, is the only word I could use to describe his playing in that track.
I think the real highlight of the evening for me was ‘Karn Evil’. The band pulled together an out-of-this-world cover of this track with Marc Bonilla covering the vocal side. ELP are one of those bands for me that I love head over heels but sadly never got to see live in any iteration, so being able to witness these powerhouse musicians run through one of my favourite ELP epics was unbelievably satisfying. They made it look so easy…
And obviously, the evening had to finish with the epic ‘The Myth of the Mostrophus’. The band pulled together and played a wonderful rendition of this prog epic – and it really had all of the dopamine jingling around my brain. There’s something special about seeing a large group of musicians getting together on stage, tackling material as challenging as this, with no click to keep it all together. It feels like more of a rarity these days, but the human element of it really does add that extra 10% to one’s enjoyment of the show.
I think it would be a real shame if this was where the story of the Mostrophus ends given how much I’ve fallen in love with this album. Hopefully it’ll come back with a vengeance to the live stage some time again soon…