The Neal Morse Band Brings The Prog To The Ridgefield Playhouse!

by John A. Wilcox

I've been a fan of Neal Morse for several decades now. First as the founder member of progressive giants Spock's Beard. Spock's Beard brought classic prog into the modern age with such influential albums as The Light, V, and Snow. After Snow, Morse followed his muse and left for solo waters. The result was more prog gems like Sola Scriptura, Testimony, The Grand Experiment, and his latest - the double disc The Similitude Of A Dream. I asked Neal Morse to explain the project and its origins. Morse: To me this album is 1 piece. Similitude is 1 105 minute piece. It needs to be done together because that's what it's all about. It's about the story and the flow and the recurring themes and the musicality of it. I had the initial inspiration one morning. I was writing and I felt like I was coming up with some good themes and some good things were coming. Sometimes I can feel a little bit like Sherlock Holmes. In the Sherlock Holmes books he always said "The game's afoot, Watson!" Sometimes I have that sense that the game's afoot and I start writing and I sense when I'm on the trail of something - but I wasn't sure what. I felt like I needed some direction and I remembered that someone had emailed me and said "Have you thought about doing a concept album based on Pilgrim's Progress?" I didn't give it much thought at the time but it popped into my mind and I thought "Well, let's have a look!" I've never read the book. I don't own it. I looked up the story outline online and I just kinda started toying around with "Oh, what would that sound like if he's leaving the City of Destruction? What would that sound like if he's battling with this monster? What would that sound like when his wife won't go with him?" All that kind of stuff. That's how it started. Then I brought it to the band and it just kind of Kaboom went crazy from there.

I asked what folks can expect from the show. Morse again: In my humble opinion they're getting some of the best music played by some of the best musicians on the planet working today. I think that that is something I can say pretty safely. This band is just amazing. Sure, everybody can play well and everybody can play fast, but this album is epic and moving and touching. You can expect to be moved to tears - a lot of people are. You can also expect to be thrilled and exhilarated. It's also very theatrical. I'll be doing some costume changes. I even wear some masks to bring out the story a little bit more. You can expect something that has that early Genesis touch. The video screen - the images behind were created by Christian Rios and are just really provocative but not too distracting. I think that he did a wonderful job with the images that go on behind the show. This all reminds me in the best possible way of Genesis' tour for The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway some 40-odd years later.

Joined once again by former Dream Theater percussive genius Mike Portnoy, Morse has assembled quite an impressive band! Morse: Of course Mike Portnoy all by himself puts on one of the best shows of anybody around. He's a totally unique performer. He's a drummer showman that commands the whole audience. He's just amazing! Eric Gillette on guitar who's like the young wonder boy kind of guy. He's incredible. What people don't know is the he also plays keyboards really really well. You'll hear him singing lead on a lot of things. We're trading off a lot of lead vocals. Also with Bill Hubauer on keyboards. Bill is a multi-instrumentalist so he'll be bringing out the mandolin and the saxophone and lots of really great vocals. Randy George is just one of the best bass players around. It'll be a really powerful performance. On that you can depend! Join The Neal Morse Band for an unforgettable evening of dazzling progressive music!

The Neal Morse Band
Friday, August 25, 8 PM
The Ridgefield Playhouse
80 East Ridge
Ridgefield, CT 06877


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