Yellow Matter Custard - One Night In New York City

Year of Release: 2003
Label: Radiant Records
Catalog Number: RA-014
Format: CD
Total Time: 104:15:00

It's not a big secret that both Mike Portnoy and Neal Morse are big fans of the fab four from Liverpool. Whenever they see a chance they surely pay respect to the world famous Beatles. Instead of the occasional track, they went one step further and, together with Paul Gilbert and Matt Bissonette, formed an American version of the Beatles, the perfect tribute band in which every single musician at one given time played the role of lead singer. Bert Baldwin, who also toured with Neal Morse on his Testimony tour, plays the role of a white Billy Preston here adding additional keyboards, percussion and samples.

Yellow Matter Custard May 18, 2003 concert posterSo on May 18th, 2003, the very same day Rick Wakeman celebrated his 54th birthday, the appropriately called Yellow Matter Custard played BB King's in New York City, delivering no fewer than thirty Beatles songs. What's interesting is the fact that they not only went for the classic cuts but also included some lesser known tracks in their set. You often have to pinch yourself as the vocals get so damned close to the unique voices of Lennon or McCartney. Now and then you can hear a small mistake, such as during the guitar solo for "Dig A Pony," but this can only contribute to the unique nature of the event. What I especially like is the way they perform the older songs such as "I Call Your Name." It's as if you're in Hamburg yourself! What's funny is the fact that people like Mike Portnoy and Neal Morse are used to performing long epics, whilst here you get the full flavour of the typical sixties approach resulting in powerful, direct, short songs.

As with the original Beatles, our US friends also include a bit of wacky remarks throughout the album. For instance they introduce "Free As A Bird" as a new song they have only recently written. To be honest, this is the very first time I heard it performed live ever, and even if some of the harmonies don't sound too correct, I really enjoy this one! Paul Gilbert really has a field day during Harrison's "While My Guitar Gently Weeps," delivering an incredible guitar solo towards the end. Gilbert, known from his stints with Racer X and Mr. Big has also teamed up with Portnoy in another cover band, this time covering Led Zeppelin material under the name of Hammer Of The Gods. No doubt audio and/or DVD material from this band will soon be made available!

The second CD of the set continues with another selection of highlights. Both "I'll Be Back" and "No Reply" go back to the band's humble beginnings. I'm convinced that Beatles material is constantly on the cards during studies at Berklee, with Mike pointing out that the band has just played the best "bridge" ever written! Laughs all around when Neal starts singing the first chords to "I Will Survive" instead of "Oh Darling." The more the concert evolves the wackier it all gets with Portnoy sounding like a Japanese lunatic in "You Know My Name (Look Up The Number)." And it really becomes mad when animal noises make their entry during "Good Morning, Good Morning." With "Sgt Pepper (reprise)," Yellow Matter Custard finds the perfect song to close to set singing: "we hope you have enjoyed the show"! The final convulsion comes with "A Day In The Life" being reproduced in detail as if you're listening to the real thing.

If the Beatles were around today, they probably would sound exactly like Yellow Matter Custard, energetic and enthusiastic, and above all enjoying themselves. As far as I recall, only one official live album of the Beatles exists by means of Live At Hollywood Bowl, an album that to this very day still hasn't been released on CD (officialy that is). This says enough of the quality of the recording that constantly displays screaming teenagers with the sound of the Beatles tucked away in the background. In the case of Yellow Matter Custard you hear the band first and the audience's applause at the end of every song, the way it should be. So although knowing YMC is a cover band, One Night In New York City probably is the best Beatles live album you will ever be able to lay your hands on! I really had YMCA (Yellow Matter Custard Adrenaline) throughout my listening experience, clutching Mike Starr, Matt McCartney, Neal Lennon and Paul Harrison close to my heart. With Matt Bissonette having played with Julian Lennon and having toured with Ringo Starr to promote the latter's Ringo Rama album, for sure this album should be heard by the surviving Beatles. Curious what they might think of it all! The best live album the Beatles never made!

Yellow Matter Custard l to r: Paul Gilbert, Neal Morse, Mike Portnoy, and Greg Bissonette (courtesy)
Yellow Matter Custard l to r: Paul Gilbert, Neal Morse, Mike Portnoy and Greg Bissonette (courtesy)

Disc One: Intro / Magical Mystery Tour / Dear Prudence / Dig A Pony / She Said She Said / I Call Your Name / You Can't Do That / When I Get Home / Nowhere Man / Rain / Free As A Bird / Come Together / I Am The Walrus / While My Guitar Gently Weeps

Disc Two: Baby's In Black / I'll Be Back / No Reply / The Night Before / You're Gonna Lose That Girl / Ticket To Ride / Everybody's Got Something To Hide Except For Me And My Monkey / Oh Darling / Think For Yourself / Wait / Revolution / I Want You (She's So Heavy) / You Know My Name (Look Up My Number) / Lovely Rita / Good Morning Good Morning / Sgr. Pepper (Reprise) / A Day In The Life

Neal Morse - vocals, keyboards, guitars, fuzz bass
Mike Portnoy - vocals, drums
Paul Gilbert - vocals, guitars
Matt Bissonette - vocals, bass

One Night In New York City (2003)

Genre: Rock

Origin US

Added: December 14th 2003
Reviewer: John "Bobo" Bollenberg

Artist website:
Hits: 1649
Language: english


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