Spock’s Beard at the 229 in London

On the first day of February, the notorious Spock’s Beard made their return to London after an almost 6 year break. Having no new record to tour with, or anniversary album to celebrate, the band played a wide range of tracks from their extended discography.

For those that don’t know them, the band formed in the mid 1990s at the helm of multi-instrumentalist Neal Morse, and his brother Alan. Riding off the back of the neo-prog movement with other bands like The Flower Kings, Spock’s combine cheery compositions full of passionate guitar solos and gritty organ accompaniment.  Now almost 3 decades on since their inaugural release The Light, and Neal long gone from the project, this tour’s lineup included Ted Leonard, Alan Morse, Ryo Okumoto, Dave Meros, and Mike Thorne.

Despite playing a rather large venue at over 600 capacity, there were no support acts for the gig which was a slight disappointment. But maybe Spock’s didn’t need it as when they took to the stage opening with Tides of Time from The Oblivion Particle, the band took no prisoners and got right to business with their show.

Waiting for me was another highlight as Alan Morse performed an incredible guitar solo. I also enjoy watching his playing up close as he plays entirely without a plectrum – a very out-of-the-ordinary approach for electric guitar players in this field. Alan always gets very passionate on stage too, running around, swinging his guitar all over the place, whilst still holding onto notes and chords.

On a Perfect Day, Submerged, Harm’s Way, the band really spread out through their historic discography to try and give everyone a taste of what they wanted to hear. And I think it worked a real treat, with no focus on any particular era of the band.

What was great for me to see is that the band were far tighter than the last time I saw them back in 2018 when the show was plagued with technical difficulties. Without the stress of equipment failing, every musician was able to flourish and smile through the set as I’m sure they were all relieved to be back on stage together once again.

Once again, more passion was extruding from Alan’s fingers during his solo in She is Everything from Octane. It’s emotional, tasteful, and genuinely did bring a tear to my eye – but then there is a certain bias in how much I am invested in this history and performance of this act.

One So Wise followed by Go the Way You Go, featured a drum solo from Mike, the evening began to draw to a close with Ryo’s touring Leslie speaker starting to become a meer memory. And I have to make a special shoutout to that Leslie. I was stood right up close next to it, and it really made a big difference when Ryo was hammering out his organ lines. What a treat to see a rock band tour with one of those on stage in 2024!

With the encore on this tour being the traditional epic The Light from the similarly titled album, The Light, the audience were overtly pleased to witness this 15-minute epic live once again, possibly the perfect finalé to any Spock’s gig. This time featuring a fun jam with solos being bounced between Ted, Alan, and Ryo right at the front of the stage for all to see. Of course the keytar had to come out to play!

With no support allowing for an early finish, the band bid their farewells until the next time. An emotional goodbye I think for some, as who knows if a future with Spock’s Beard will flourish once again with Pattern Seeking Animals taking the attention of half the band members, and Ryo putting together his own solo albums. Will there be another album? Will there be another tour? It’s been 6 years since the last one, so one can only hope that the band will sort themselves out, and get on with giving the people what they want once again.

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