Album review: NEAL MORSE – Morsefest!

NEAL MORSE - Morsefest!

www.nealmorse.com [Release date 21.08.15]

This is a massive box set, which you can get either as 2 disc Blu-Ray or a 4 CD/2 DVD set. Obviously aimed at the fans, as Neal Morse performs two of his keynote solo albums, ‘Testimony’ and ‘One’, in their entirety over two nights on November 14th and 15th in 2014.

Joining him are his longtime musical colleagues Mike Portnoy, Randy George, Eric Gillette and Bill Hauber. Also guesting is his brother and Spock’s Beard member Alan Morse. The backing band also features female backing vocalists and percussionists.

The first two discs cover ‘Testimony’ and the faithful recreation of the album’s music is to be marvelled at. ‘Colder In The Sun’ and ‘Sleeping Jesus’ sound that much better in a live setting. The first DVD mirrors the two CD’s including the encores which include a spirited version of ‘Jayda’, one of Neal Morse’s more heartfelt songs.

Discs three and four feature the band performing the ‘One’ album. Again the musicianship is top draw as you’d expect and the DVD highlights the visual aspects of the live show. The sound on both nights is crystal clear.

The encores will be of particular interest to fans as Alan Morse takes to the stage to help on the Spock’s Beard tune ‘The Light’. Another encore is Transatlantic’s ‘Stranger In Your Soul’, a real treat for fans of that band given that band’s rare live outings.

The DVD adds a few treats including the visual montage ‘The Morsefest Experience’ and Mike Portnoy playing ‘Name That Prog Tune’!

This is a Neal Morse fan’s dream come true with two of his finest albums performed live and you can enjoy seeing the performances too. Yes the lyrics are very religious, but then ‘Testimony’ is the deeply personal journey Neal Morse took as he discovered his faith. They lyrics are uplifting whatever your beliefs and the music is prog, pomp and many points in-between. Lot of care and thought has gone into the whole box set, creating something that a fan of Neal Morse’s music will enjoy and appreciate for many years to come.  In a word, excellent!  *****

Review by Jason Ritchie


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