D'Virgilio, Nick & Neal Morse - Two Seperate Gorillas?Live In Europe

Year of Release: 2000
Label: Radiant Records
Catalog Number: RA-007
Format: CD
Total Time: 00:00:00

D'Virgilio & MorseLooks like Neal Morse has found a second home in Europe. Strange as it might sound but both Spock's Beard and Transatlantic seem to do better in Europe than in the States, which is probably why Neal often visits Europe whenever the schedule permits. Not so long ago he persuaded Nick d'Virgilio to join him on an acoustic pub-crawl through Germany and Holland. Armed with a nice selection of Spock's classics and some surprising covers, Neal and Nick performed at ease. In the first place never intended to release any material, but once they heard some recordings, decided it wouldn't be a bad idea to release it "flaws 'n all" so that people who were unable to attend could hear what the fuss was all about. So do expect bootleg quality spread over two CDs recorded at various locations in July '99 and July '00.

What fans of Spock's Beard have known for a long time is that drummer Nick d'Virgilio also has a very good pair of lungs. Just think of a track like "June? which highlights both Neal and Nick's vocal abilities. The small tour was not only there to promote the music of Spock's Beard it was also an ideal mixture of work and play adding a large pinch of humour to the otherwise boring cliché of "life on the road." The inclusion of a typical stupid German singalong like "Mein Kleine Gruner Kaktus" is enough proof that Guinness was probably more important than a nourishing meal, but then again who would dare to argue with "two seperate gorillas" anyway?

On the first disc, Neal greets the audience with "hello good evening" and he nearly loses his voice, hence the introduction of "Ghost Train," a song which Neal says kicks off the concert "to warm up his voice." To extra underline the acoustic nature of the tour Nick mainly turns to playing the percussive parts on bongo which is nice if you have to move your own gear! In "Ghost Train" Neal's acoustic guitar sometimes comes close to the sound Jimmy Page gets out of his instrument. Nick is introduced to the unexpecting audience during "In Your Eyes,? a cover of the Peter Gabriel classic done in a way even Gabriel would be surprised at. Stripping songs down to the bare necessity often proves whether at all a song is a good one or not. All over this album the Spock's songs are indeed removed of their musical veneer in order to deliver the true beauty and strength of the song. Take "Skin" as a prime example. Luckily Neal not only brought his guitar along but also made sure there was a keyboard at the ready, which works wonders during the intro for "Distance To The Sun," once again highlighting the vocal harmonies between Neal and Nick. Nick tries his hand at the Beatles classic "We Can Work It Out" and a little bit later in the set when apparently Nick had to change a guitar string Neal put in a traditional Irish folk song which he normally sings for his kids.

This "stripped" album also illustrates what instruments certain songs were initially created on. "The Doorway" certainly was written on piano as Neal clearly illustrates the speed on which he tickles the ivories. The first album closes with a surprising U2 medley incorporating "Where The Sstreets Have No Name" and "In The Name Of Love." The second disc of this set probably has the most flaws but then again it will be the most important part of the release for Dream Theater fans as some of the songs include guest appearances by some of their heroes! First on is a great version of "June" though with all of the audience singing along to the chorus. Accompanied by Jordan Rudess on piano, John Petrucci on guitars and Mike Portnoy on bongos, Neal and Nick serve great renditions of "Papa Was A Rollin' Stone" (containing a wild bongo duel between Nick and Mike and a jazzy improvisation between Petrucci on acoustic guitar and Rudess on piano), "Strawberry Fields Forever" (with Portnoy singing) and The Who's "Baba O'Riley." Recorded in Hamburg on 11th July 2000 at a place called Thomas Reid, these songs are not the best quality you can imagine but as a "souvenir" of a one-off I'm convinced no one will complain.

So you get Spock's material and some interesting covers but what else could you expect on these dates? You're right: Transatlantic material! So enjoy a great acoustic version of "We All Need Some Light," which illustrates the nature of the song leaning towards a future classic in the same way like every Beatles song ever written is a classic. Unfortunately you have to take the false singing from half of the drunken audience for granted here. Ah well, can't win ?em all. The quality of the recordings get better as we go back to the same date as on the first disc which is Oldenburg July '99. Imagine the surprise on everyone's face when Neal attacks the Genesis favourite "Carpet Crawlers" even throwing in a well meant "burp" halfway through adding "Peter Gabriel must be turning in his grave right now and he's not even dead!" Dunno how many pints of Guinness or local German brews went before the recording of this take but I surely wouldn't want to have been Morse's pair of shorts that evening! The album closes with two excerpts from Day For Night. Piano and some light strings accompany "Can't Get It Wrong," even letting a word like "shit" creep into the beauty of the song. The album closes with some excerpts of "Healing Colors Of Sound," again emphasizing that acoustic guitar and voice underscore the fragile nature of the song. Again the word "shit" is used as Neal forgets the words to this one and the word "spontaneous" comes to mind.

M&Ms deliver sweets that don't melt in your hands, only in your mouth. N&N (Neal 'n' Nick) deliver music that melts in both your ears and your heart. Get addicted today! (the album is only available through Radiant Records mailorder!)

CD One: Ghost Train / In Your Eyes / Skin / Distance To The Sun / The Water ? Go The Way You Go / Waste Away / We Can Work It Out / The Good Don't Last / Irish Folk Song / The Doorway / U2 Medley

CD Two: Meine Kleine Gruner Kaktus / Strange World / June / Papa Was A Rolling Stone / Strawberry Fields / Baba O'Riley / We All Need Some Light / Carpet Crawlers / Can't Get It Wrong / Lay It Down - Healing Colors

Neal Morse - vocals, guitars, keyboards
Nick d'Virgilio - vocals, percussion, guitar
Jordan Rudess - guest on piano
Mike Portnoy - guest on vocals and bongo
John Petrucci - guest on acoustic guitar

Spock's Beard - The Light (1991)
Spock's Beard - Beware Of Darkness (1995)
Spock's Beard - The Beard Is Out There Live (1995) (cd/vid)
Spock's Beard - Official Live Bootleg (1996)
Spock's Beard - The Kindness Of Strangers (1997)
Spock's Beard - From The Vault - 1995-1998 (1998)
Spock's Beard - Day For Night (1999)
Spock's Beard - Live At The Whiskey and NEARfest (1999)
Spock's Beard - Don't Try This At Home (2000)
Two Separate Gorillas - Live In Europe (2000) Spock's Beard - V (2000)
Spock's Beard - Snow (2002)
Spock's Beard - The Light - The Artwork Collector's Series (2004)

Spock's Beard - Don't Try This At Home & The Making Of V (2002) (DVD)

Genre: Progressive Rock

Origin US

Added: October 1st 2000
Reviewer: John "Bobo" Bollenberg

Artist website: www.spocksbeard.com
Hits: 1187
Language: english


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