Spock's Beard - LIVE: The Classic Grand, Glasgow 2015

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The Oblivion Particle Tour
October 1 (21:05 - 23:05)
Capacity 500

After a longish wait Spock's Beard returned to Scotland for a one of show in Glasgow's Classic Grand. Promoting their new album The Oblivion Particle whilst also digging into their past they impressed for two hours to a decent crowd (slightly less than last time around in Glasgow), who were loud and enthusiastic - so much so that that singer Ted Leonard remarked after the first song "I can see it's going to be a good night." Which it certainly was.

One of the most noticeable things about watching Spock's Beard is the amount of fun they have. There is a joy in their performance, in their music and attitude. All evening there are smiles, laughs, nods, hand shaking and moments of members winding each other up. Yet all the while they play some incredibly technical and interesting music. Unlike many of their contemporaries however they never lose focus of the song and melody whilst doing so.

As a band they have so many terrific songs in their catalogue that what they choose is not a problem. What makes the night is the way they are performed and the atmosphere they create. It is unlikely that anyone could leave one of their gigs without a smile on their face and feeling upbeat. Even during the first song Ted and keyboardist Ryo Okumoto are winding each other up and chatting away, laughing. In Ryo they also have a great focal point as he is perhaps the most entertaining keyboard player in rock music. The expression “mad as a hatter” could have been originally written about him. This is a compliment as he is just so engaging and entertaining.

Second song in was, or is, a good example of what they do so well. On A Perfect Day has a wonderfully clever and powerful riff which floats in and out of the piece, but also features a delightful melody throughout. The twin acoustic guitar section featuring lead guitarist Alan Morse along with Ted is fantastic whilst all the time Alan pulls some of the strangest and funniest faces imaginable, and the chorus is sung with such clarity and harmony, drawing the crowd into singing without any request from the stage. The Good Don't Last starts with a cock up between Alan and Ryo, with Alan taking the blame - even talented folk can make mistakes - and of course there is much laughter about it all. Once it actually gets doing, drummer Jimmy Keegan shows his power and at the prompting of Ryo he starts swinging his hands and sticks higher into the air crashing them down onto the kit with Ryo joining in. During the most melodic keyboard section Ted got a towel and started drying imaginary tears from Ryo's eyes. All the while still playing with professionalism and keeping it together.

Afterthoughts again showed off the band's skill at vocal harmonies as did a delightful June. However before June someone in the crowd got Ted a beer, which he under duress (or at least chanting crowd) ended up sinking in one go. The fun of watching him trying not to burp during June was funny, even if perhaps childish, but being a professional he got through it without screwing up. The final song of the main set, Waiting For Me, was a great closer as the guitar solo soars and the main melody lifts, building to a big conclusion with fading bells or chimes. There are tracks that are just right to finish with and this is one of them.

Thankfully after a short break the band return for one more song. And a real treat it was. The Water is a 23-minute journey from being in the womb, through childhood and the troubled teenage years, into adulthood and old age. It has been a long time since it was part of a setlist and for many folk it was the first time hearing it live. It was worth the wait. The reaction of the crowd throughout was excellent, joining in with all the sections that needed singing along, not only the "fuck you” section of the angry teenager (which Ted remarked he expected Glasgow to do), but also with the adult realisation of their own ignorance of the reasons behind things that are “not fair” whilst teenage, in the “so sorry” section of the song. The jump between both sections is well handled and the crowd played their part in it. It was a fabulous ending to a great night of music and entertainment.

Included in that night has to be mentioned the support bands who were both very impressive: Hungarians Special Providence, with their jazz style instrumental workouts (and large nods to Frank Zappa), and London based prog outfit Synaesthesia with their harder edged alternative stylings. Both bands were obviously delighted to be playing and came over very well musically as well as in attitude. Both received a very good reception and are bands to keep an eye on in the future. For the headliners especially, as they say in Scotland “haste ye back”.

“ they play some incredibly technical and interesting music ”

Setlist: Tides of Time / On A Perfect Day / Hell's Not Enough / The Good Don't Last / Minion / A Better Way To Fly / Afterthoughts / To Be Free Again / June / Waiting For Me // The Water

Written by Tom Cornell
More: 2015, Gigs, Progressive,

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