Classic Rock Bottom

NEAL MORSE BAND - Support HAKEN, Malmo, Sweden 19/-15.

It's pretty rare, that I go to concerts all by myself (this was the third time. I also saw Dylan and Devin Townsend "all alone"), but sometimes I have to, mostly because none of my friends have any interest in seeing the concert, or as in this case, those friends I could had "brought along" were on vacation far away from Denmark/Sweden. But as in the other two "alone-concerts", this was a concert I wouldn't miss. But it IS boring, going by yourself, and I doubt if I'll do it again. Maybe only if Tom Waits comes around next summer?


This was actually half the size (or even smaller) than Amager Bio, where I've seen Steven Wilson recently. There were probably around 250 people (there could had been 150 more, if we had squised together), and many of them males around 40-50 years old. 4 out of 5 were men, but there WERE a few nice looking swedish girls/women, but also quite a few nerds. Since it was "a foreign" country, I decided to take the train, and then walk from the central station to the venue, and it took around 2-3 hours from my house, to the destination.


As I stood in line, waiting to be let in, I saw a guy outside, not looking exactly like a musician, but more like some road-guy/roadie, but still, I thought to myself "that could actually had been a memeber of HAKEN, and nobody noticed him", and right I was, because it WAS the keyboard-player from HAKEN. But actually all of HAKEN looked like Roadies, and when they entered the stage, I (and probably also the other 249 people in the audience) thought, the roadies were trying out the instruments, but suddently they started to play "The Path" from the very good album "The Mountain". Then the singer stormed on stage, and HE looked like a "star", acutally he looks like Kirk Hammet's lost brother. Then they played "Atlas Stone" (also from "The Mountain"), and they played good, but the singer is not really exceptional good, not live, and not on album. A rather thin voice. And they have some harmonies, that are a bit annoying on album, and it was even more annoying live, because some of the guys couldn't hit the right notes. That really became clear, when they played "Cockroach King", which was a populare song in the small audience (probably my least favorite on "The Mountain"), but they also played my favorite track from, yes "The Mountain", "In Memoriam". They started playing around 7.40 PM, and at 8.05 PM, the singer announsed the last song, but it was "Crystallised" from last years EP "Restoration", and the song is 20 min. long. And then it was over. They did a fair job, but I wasn't overly impressed, and was beginning to think, I should had stayed home.


Since I had a train to catch, I figured out, I had to leave at around 10.30-10.45 PM, and at 8.40 PM (I look at my watch a lot) exactly, NM-band entered the stage. It was a COMEPLETELY different "entering of the stage". Since it was such a smal venue, I stood only 15 feet (5 meters) from the stage and had absolutely great sight of everything on stage. It was a fantastic moment, when first Mike Portnoy and then Neal Morse and the rest of the band entered the stage. It was kind of unreal, standing so close to those guys. They started playing "The Call", which is my favorite from the new album, and it sounded sooooooooo much better, than HAKEN. The harmonies were spot on!! The whole band is extremely talented musicians without any doubt, but even though I knew he's a good guitarist, Eric Gillette was an outstanding musician/singer, even in this amazing band. At some point (during a 40 min. version of "Alive Again", and even though the track is shorter on album and not one of my absolute favorites on TGE, those 40 min, were in NO way boring at all, when the song was played live), the whole band shifted instruments, so that at first Morse took over Portnoys drums (and Morse is also a very good drummer), while Gillette played a GREAT solo on the keyboards, and Portnoy played Randy George's bass, who was playing guitar, and then Gillete took over on the drums, and played an amazing solo, short and fast, but amazing, almost soundning like Portnoy (who IS a VERY powerfull drummer!!). Portnoy looked at us in the audience, and noded his head in approvel. But before this highligt of the concert, and it was a fitting highlight, since the tour is called "Alive Again", they also played a couple of "old" Spocks Beard-tracks, and especially "Go The Way You Go" was sounding great. I didn't know those tracks, since the only "Neal Morse-Spocks Beard-album" I've got is "Snow". I'm not really that familiar with Morse's "One"-album, but I will buy it later today, because the 20 min, version of "The Creation" was out of this world!! Portnoy is most definitley one af the very best drummers I've ever witnessed live. And that man has a star-quality brighter than even Morse himself, but he certainly is a team-player. At some point, Portnoy said, that now was the time of the concert, where Morse would be alone on stage with his accustic guitar, and surprising Portnoy by playing a different song every night. This night Morse played a jaw-dropping version of "Jailbreak" (not the Lizzy-song), and Portnoy said "I've never heard that one before, which album is it on, I've got to buy it, or wait for the DVD "Live in Malmo"". Morse said it was from one of his "worshipping-albums", but that means, that there's also hidden gems on those albums. Mose can sure play the accusic, also. Then the band lined up as Zeppelin, on the front of the stage, and played "Waterfall" also from TGE, and off courde it sounded and looked great. I don't really know Morse's "?"-album either, so "In The Fire" was also kind of new to me, but also great. Then came the 40 min. version of "alive Again". And then I looked at my watch again, and it was 10.35 PM and Morse said "Goodnight, Malmo", even though there would be encores, I decided to leave in order to catch my train. So I didn't get to hear 2 tracks from "Testimony 1" (luckily for me, it wasn't from "Testimony 2") and a final track from "One", but I got to see and hear two hours of one of the best sounding live-bands, I've ever seen/heard, and that is better than not seeing/hearing them. But I sure regret now, not staying for the last 20 min, or so :-(

I don't think, that any of these picures are from last night, but some of them very well could had been. But NOTHING beats seing it live 15 feet in front of you.



The Call
The Grand Experiment
Harm's Way / Go the Way You Go
The Creation
In The Fire
Alive Again

Encore (Sigh):
Oh Lord My God

HAKEN 3.5/6


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Sounds like an excellent show, one that I would love to see here in the states.  Not Haken necessarily, but definitely Neil Morse Band.  It is such a strange notion to me that you took a train to a concert.  Here in America, there is no real train system, at least in the Southeast.  Probably more of one up North or out West.  But I would just drive.  Obviously, there is no other country that is only a 2-3 hour ride from where I live.  That's basically like driving to Atlanta for me.  Anyway, what I'm saying is that it is cool that you can do that, although it stinks that you had to cut out early.

Not the first time, I had to skip the encores. I also had to do that when I saw KISS in 1980 and Queen in 1986 :-(

I'm listening to "One" right now, and I'm realizing that even though the music is great, something is missing. The "visual effect" of seeing the band live made the music-experience SO much better!! I could feel that all of the musicians, but especially Morse and Portnoy really, really enjoys to play this music, and that's why they still produce at least a couple of albums each year, and good albums! And it "rubbed off" on us the audience, because I couldn't help to be smiling, "dancing" (and cheering) most of the time, and I looked around and saw many others smiling. Portnoy was very good at getting the audience to cheer. I felt his eyes in mine at some point, and started to cheer out loud, because he pointed his drum-stick at me, and "told" me to cheer, and that's fine, because it must be boring for a band, that clearly loves to play as much as they do, and then the audience just stand there looking passive. The concert was a "life-affirming" experience, and as Morse said in a "Jesus Christ kind of-pose": "Can you feel it? Don't you love being alive!". Amen to that!!

Excellent read! Would love to know your final thoughts on "One"...  Also, sorry you didnt get to hug Neal!

I haven't read a review of the concert, so I like to think, that the last 2-3 encores was nothing special, and that Morse didn't go out in the audience, not that I would have loved a hug or a dance, but it would sure be weird, having Morse playing/singing right next to me, instead of 15 feet away. 2 hours Morse-concert 15 feet away Will have to do, and for my money, it sounds great, and it was.

"One" is a great album. Do you have it, Scott?
I do not own it
It's very good, and I recomend it. Even though the new album is good, and live even better, the older songs, they played were better. They are more "complicated" in a good way. But as I wrote, there's something missing when you're not having the band playing right in your face. I've heard it twice now, and it COULD be my second favorite by Morse.

I'm gonna stick my nose in here and tell you what I think about One.  I think that it's the loneliest number that you'll ever do.

Two can be as bad as one


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