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The Neal Morse Band - The Great Adventour (Live in BRNO 2019) Award winner

The Neal Morse Band
The Great Adventour (Live in BRNO 2019)
by Mark Machlay at 31 March 2020, 4:40 AM

Ever since his departure from SPOCK’S BEARD following the wildly successfully double concept album “Snow”, Neal Morse has been arguably one for the hardest working and most prolific musicians working today. With “TESTIMONY” being released only one year after his last album with his previous band with several more double albums released nearly every year following, two with TRANSATLANTIC, three with FLYING COLORS, several Christian non-prog albums and several live shows and albums documenting his tours, it’s hard to argue against. However, he has been much maligned because of his turn to faith, yet his music is always compelling, interesting and technically top-notch. Surrounded by excellent musicians and always striving for the best, it’s always a pleasure to listen to his many live albums.

“The Great Adventour” is no different and shows that he and his band are still firing on all cylinders nearly two decades since forging a new path for himself. The concert itself is an exact duplication of the original album “The Great Adenture” so it is only fair to judge the quality of the work. The only addition is “The Great Medley”, a thirty minute encore which is a skillfully crafted chronological journey through every Neal Morse album. The mix is perfect, being healmed by the great Rich Mouser, who has mixed many of Neal Morse’s live and studio albums as well as done work for his previous band SPOCK’S BEARD – particularly the aforementioned “Snow” – and even mixed a DREAM THEATER official bootleg or two.

The album was recorded in the Czech Republic in Brno. It was their first time playing in the country and bassist Randy George described the crowd as “very energetic, they loved it!” This being one of the final stops on the tour, all of the quirks and positions have been solidified and the band are at the height of their abilities. Longtime friend Mike Portnoy’s drums are clear and not-overpowering and for the most part he is content to sit in the background and not stray into usual showmanship except to encourage the crowd, with only a few small moments of flashy drums fills. Bill Hubauer’s work on keyboards and vocals is unquestionably fantastic. Eric Gillette is a phenomenal axeman able to go from fast virtuoso to tender and smooth with ease, which his vocals share. Randy George’s bass is thick without being boomy, the keyboards sit well in the mix and come to the front when needed, and especially great is the blending of all four singer’s voices that almost perfectly mirrors the studio version.

But holding it all together at the front is consummate professional, Neal Morse. Portnoy had said after the recording of “The Similitude of a Dream” – the album which is the predecessor to the concept album presented in this package – THE NEAL MORSE BAND had reached its pinnacle in terms of composition and presentation. I would argue that they have reached new heights with this release and hope that Morse can continue making music that can touch people so much that a live album can hardly capture the amazing performances given by them.

Songwriting: 10
Musicianship: 10
Memorability: 9
Production: 10

5 Star Rating

Tracklist:
CD 1

1. Intro
2. Overture
3. The Dream Isn’t Over
4. Welcome to the World
5. A Momentary Change
6. Dark Melody
7. I Got to Run
8. To the River
9. The Great Adventure
10. Venture in Black
11. Hey Ho Lets Go
12. Beyond the Borders

CD 2

1. Overture 2
2. Long Ago
3. The Dream Continues
4. Fighting with Destiny
5. Vanity Fair
6. Welcome to the World 2
7. The Element of Fear
8. Child of Wonder
9. The Great Despair
10. Freedom Calling
11. A Love That Never Dies:
12. The Great Medley
Lineup:
Neal Morse – Vocals, Guitars and Keyboards
Mike Portnoy – Drums and Vocals
Randy George – Bass
Eric Gillette – Guitar and Vocals
Bill Hubauer – Keyboard and Vocals
Record Label: InsideOut Music
     


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