Gig review: SPOCK’S BEARD – The Garage, London, 7 May 2013

A very healthy turn out for a Tuesday night gig, swelled slightly by those here to see Sound Of Contact (including Marillion’s guitarist Steve Rothery). Sadly I only caught the tail end of opener’s Beardfish’s set who went down well with the crowd.

Next up were Sound Of Contact, a new band and signing to Inside Out featuring Simon Collins (he has a rather famous dad!), keyboards player Dave Kerzner, bassist Matt Dorsey (who looked too cool to be in a prog band), guitarist John Wesley (Porcupine Tree/Fish) and District 97’s drummer Jonathan Schang. The latter warming up no doubt for his band’s appearance at the Cleber8.2 festival this weekend in Kingston.

The set was bookended by two instrumentals with Simon Collins taking the drum stool for these. Musically they have a big emphasis on melody, slightly laid back playing with plenty of slow guitar solos and not a million miles away from the sound of Marillion and Enchant. Based on tonight’s performance their debut release will be worth seeking out.

If I have one criticism tonight it is having two support bands on. Yes its good exposure for the support bands but when a band like Spock’s Beard have eleven albums to compile a set list from I would have preferred a longer Spock’s Beard set and just the one support band.

Spock’s Beard are one of those bands lucky enough to be able to play the majority of their new album, the rather good ‘Brief Nocturnes & Dreamless Sleep’, without fans moaning and wanting only the classic songs played. In fact ‘Something Very Strange’ and ‘I Know Your Secret’ started their set off in fine style.

New boy Ted Leonard is the perfect fit for the band, both vocally and as a frontman, working the crowd well, plus indulging in some friendly onstage banter with fellow band members. Along with touring drummer Jimmy Keegan (now a permanent member) these two have revitalised the band and the band look set to enjoy a period of stability now.

Fans of the older albums had ‘Crack The Sky’, ‘Hiding Out’ and the harmony filled ‘The Distance To The Sun’ to enjoy. The band’s five piece harmonies really are spot on as the latter song and ‘Afterthoughts’ highlighted amply.

Alan Morse certainly seemed to be having a ball on stage as did keyboards wizard and live wire Ryo Okumoto. He managed to get a football chant going a couple of times based on ‘Ryo’ and his encore finale saw him clambering aboard his keyboard racks for some, err, novel stretching exercises. This is the band’s strength for me as they have wonderful musicianship and songs, however they don’t take themselves too seriously and inject an element of fun as and when required into the live setting.

By the time we reached the encore of ‘Go The Way You Go’ the band were in full jamming mode and I am pretty sure they would have loved to have played on had time permitted. One of the best progressive rock bands out there at the moment, both on album and in a live setting.

By Jason Ritchie

Album review

10Q’s with Dave Meros

Something Very Strange *
I Know Your Secret *
Crack the Big Sky
Hiding Out
Walking on the Wind
Submerged *
Cakewalk on Easy Street
Afterthoughts *
The Distance to the Sun
Waiting for Me *
Go the Way You Go

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