Music Review: Spock’s Beard — The X Tour Live (CDs/DVD)

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Spock's Beard The X TourLong-running American progressive rock band Spock’s Beard didn’t know it at the time, but this  show, filmed and recorded Sept. 10, 2010, in California, represented a milestone for the band, which celebrates its 20th anniversary this year. It turned out to be the group’s final U.S. performance with singer/drummer Nick D’Virgilio, who left the band in late 2011. It was also the only show the band did on American soil to support its superb 10th CD, X (Spock’s Beard did a short European tour supporting the album following this show).

Unlike most concert videos and recordings, which are assembled from multiple performances, the band had only one chance to get this right, and get it right they did. All SB members were firing on all thrusters throughout this show. D’Virgilio, who’d done a “Phil Collins,” taking over as lead singer when founding member Neal Morse departed for a solo career in 2002, was a natural and likeable frontman — and versatile, playing guitar, keyboard, and drums over the course of the show in addition to supplying strong lead vocals throughout.

Guitarist Alan Morse delivers his lead lines with passion and precision. Bassist Dave Meros is the sturdy foundation of the band, and he gets to shine on his Rickenbacker. Keyboardist Ryo Okumoto is wisely put at the front of the stage, all the better to see his body-bending antics. Simply put, Ryo is rock’n’roll. Touring drummer Jimmy Keegan (who was recently named the band’s permanent drummer) ably handles D’Virgilio’s recorded parts and provides sterling high harmonies.

This generous deluxe set features two CDs (one devoted to the X material — including three lengthy epics — and the other a helping of SB classics) along with a well-shot DVD of the entire concert. Beautifully recorded and mixed, the 5:1 surround option brings out the true beauty of Spock’s Beard’s Genesis/Yes/Gentle Giant-inspired, well-constructed original prog rock songs. While this excellent set closes this chapter of the band’s history, it’s great to have this souvenir as we await the next part of the story.

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