Neal Morse is without doubt one of the maestros of the Progressive Rock genre, and with his latest release, Morsefest 2014, he delivers an astonishingly produced live dvd/cd boxset. This 2 dvd/4 cd release, filmed over the 14th and 15th of November 2014 in Nashville, fully captures the majesty off Neal’s 2003’s ‘Testimony’ and 2004’s ‘One’ albums.
With long-time collaborators Mike Portnoy on drums, Randy George on bass, Neal is joined on stage by members of the “Neal Morse Touring Band” regulars, Bill Hubauer on keyboards with Eric Gillette on Guitar. There is also a four piece horn section, a six female backing troupe, a violin and cello section as well as full orchestra percussion, add dancers and special guests and what you are left with is a massive production lasting nearly five hours over the two nights. All this is presented in glorious HD.
Dvd 1 contains the first night’s performance of ‘Testimony’, and not having heard this in over five years, I had forgotten just how good it is, the weaving intricacy of Neal’s self-discovery, his journey through the next chapter in his life and the challenge of leaving Spocks Beard to become a born again Christian, is all documented here. It is a wonderful concept album that consists of five ‘parts’ comprising songs, themes, overtures and instrumental’s that are played beautifully by the band, and skillfully arranged and produced by Neal . The encores that night were: Jayda, Time Has Come and Jesus’ Blood. This dvd is nothing short of stunning.
DVD 1 – Morsefest 2014 Night 1 – Testimony Live plus Encores
– Part One –
1. The Land of Beginning Again
2. Overture No. 1
3. California Nights
4. Colder in the Sun
5. Sleeping Jesus
7. The Prince of the Power of the Air
8. The Promise
9. Wasted Life
– Part Two –
10. Overture No. 2
11. Break of Day
12. Power in the Air
13. Somber Days
14. Long Story
15. It’s All I Can Do
– Part Three –
17. Ready to Try
18. Sing it High
– Part Four –
19. Moving in My Heart
20. I Am Willing
21. In the Middle
22. The Storm Before the Calm
23. Oh, to Feel Him
24. God’s Theme
– Part Five –
25. Overture No. 3
27. Oh Lord My God
28. God’s Theme 2
29. The Land of Beginning Again
- Oh Lord My God
- God’s Theme 2
- The Land of Beginning Again
– Encores –
- Time Has Come
- Jesus’ Blood
Dvd 2 is concert number two, “One”, Again played in its entirety with encores.
One is the second solo album from Neal since his departure from Spocks Beard, and has a much more varied content than Testament, more progy, and that is a music genre Neal excels in. On this album he certainly let himself go musically, combining straight forward vocal arrangements with catchy melodies, layered choruses, and thoughtful lyrics. However it is the instrumental parts that really inspire, combining orchestral parts, rock, metal, Asian and even some bluegrass to captivate and immerse the listener in a glorious soundscape. Certainly In places it is heavier than ‘Testimony’, but the overall structure is a little less complex, longer passages for example, and more guitar. A great example of this is the near 20 minute masterclass in modern prog, ‘The Separated Man’.
This dvd also includes special encores of the Spock’s Beard classic ‘The Light’ featuring Alan Morse on guitar and the Transatlantic 26 minute masterpiece ‘Stranger In Your Soul’. A nice nod to the past.
For more than five hours and delivered over two nights, Neal Morse and guests faithfully reproduce the first two of his classic solo albums in their entirety. This year’s Morsefest, September 4th and 5th will see the band performing the second two, “?” and ‘Sola Scriptura’.
As an added bonus we get to witness what the VIP experience was all about. Those lucky ticket holders got a special acoustic performance and a “Name That Prog Tune” game with Mike Portnoy as host with the vip’s working out prog songs from a bar or two.
BD 2 / DVD 2 – Morsefest 2014 Night 2 – One Live plus Encores
- The Creation
- The Man’s Gone
- Nothing To Believe
- Author Of Confusion
- The Separated Man
- Cradle to the Grave
- Help Me/Spirit and the Flesh
- King Jesus
- Father Of Forgiveness
– Encores –
- It’s For You
- Wind At My Back
- The Light
- Stranger In Your Soul
- Special Documentary – “The Morsefest Experience” created by Randy George
This release show us all why Neal is indeed blessed, not with just his faith, but also in the music he makes.
The four audio cd’s contain the entire concerts, great for listening in your car.
Audio discs (2DVD+4CD Edition)
CD 1 – Morsefest 2014 Night 1 – Testimony Live
Contains tracks 1 – 15 from DVD 1
CD 2 – Morsefest 2014 Night 1 – Testimony Live plus Encores
Contains tracks 16 – 32 from DVD 1
CD 3 – Morsefest 2014 Night 2 – One Live
Contains tracks 1 – 8 from DVD 2
CD 4 – Morsefest 2014 Night 1 – One Live plus Encores
Contains tracks 9 – 14 from DVD 2
2 DVD / 4 CD package – also available on Blu-ray
Produced by Neal Morse / directed & edited by Chad Hoerner
Metal Blade / Radiant Records DVD and Blu-ray