Concert Reviews

Spock's Beard / Sound Of Contact / Beardfish Hot

Added by James Gaden     September 03, 2013    
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Spock's Beard / Sound Of Contact / Beardfish - The Garage, London (UK) – 7 May

For the Prog community there’s been plenty of good gigs around recently and here was another triple bill to whet the appetite; it certainly didn’t disappoint, albeit with one small exception.

Judging by the crowd’s reaction I was in the minority over Beardfish, because I don’t really ‘get it’. In an already eclectic genre they have a tendency to stretch the boundaries. One moment I love the pastoral nature of their work when suddenly they hit the Death Metal button.

The anticipation for Sound of Contact was palpable and rightly so because they delivered a quite breathtaking set. It is hard to ignore how much Simon Collins looks and sounds like his father Phil, but on the evidence of tonight there is no doubt that SoC can forge their own path to success. The wonderfully atmospheric instrumental ‘Mobius Slip Part 1’ opened the set with Collins behind the drums; it built superbly arriving at a splendid crescendo where Collins attacked the drums in a manner akin to Mike Portnoy. He then emerged to take up vocal duties with Ronen Gordon taking over the drum stool. Even at this stage it was clear we were in for something special and the infectiously catchy ‘Pale Blue Dot’ certainly reinforced that view with the band members displaying dexterity and great finesse.  The cramped stage left little room for movement, but with the music being so captivating it wasn’t an issue as wonderful melodies and hooks cascaded forth. The entire set was a highlight but a defining moment was the delightful ‘Closer To You’ with its wonderful guitar intro, beautiful refrain and terrific harmonies. The set was over all too soon but they gave us the big finish with another instrumental, ‘Cosmic Distance Ladder’. Collins was back on drums and going for it big time. I detected the insertion of some Genesis motifs, just to tease the audience, but that didn’t deflect from the fact that SoC are a serious contender.

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Spock’s Beard had plenty to live up to after that performance but they rose to the challenge as their excellently selected set highlighted the qualities of their latest album, but also delivered some exquisite moments from the back catalogue. Having the privilege of watching from the photo pit the level of concentration required to reproduce some of the material was obvious, but so was the sheer enjoyment and vitality of the band. New vocalist Ted Leonard commented that he couldn’t believe he’d got so lucky to be in a band with such great musicians. He wasn’t too shabby either, as aside from vocals he played keyboards and guitar. Two of the songs in the set were his compositions (‘Hiding Out and ‘Submerged’) and both were highlights amongst a near perfect set.

Opening number, ‘Something Very Strange’ set the bar very high, but the band kept matching or exceeding that mark throughout the evening. Of the older material ‘Crack the Big Sky’ and ‘Cakewalk on Easy Street’ were both very welcome returnees, ‘Walking on the Wind’ didn’t flow quite as well, but the pinnacle was a stunning rendition of the ballad ‘Distance to the Sun’ where the vocal harmonies were truly sublime. Talking of vocals, for the first time ever in my experience the audience burst into spontaneous applause during ‘Afterthoughts’ as the band executed the first a cappella section perfectly.

This was a sensational evening and one that will live long in my memory; hopefully somewhere on the tour a DVD of the SB set was recorded for future release.

In a word, brilliant!

Gary Marshall

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