Neal Morse, one of the most famous progressive rock musicians, visited us in Holland. Yesterday, June 4, 2011, he performed in Zoetermeer, which is near the Hague, in the club named Boerderij (“farmhouse”).
He mostly played new tracks from his new album Testimony 2, which has just been released and was therefore totally unknown to me. This kind of compositions are quite hard to conceive at first listening, so I should have been prepared for it better (before I thought I had comprehensive knowledge of Morse’s works).
Furthermore, most of them were over twenty minutes long—in accordance with the best practices of progressive rock, and with Christian lyrics.
Neal wore a T-shirt reading “It’s for you…”, which is a name of one of the tracks:
The farmhouse, not that big itself, was stuffed with Neal Morse’s fans.
It’s also noteworthy that the Dutch are the tallest nation in the world, which is a big nuisance on such performances.
The concert lasted three hours; all the Dutch patiently dominated the stuffy hall:
Neal played keyboard and an electric guitar, switching instruments all the time.
In the second half he stepped into the crowd: having grabbed the mike and continuing to sing, squeezed his way through the Dutch woods, climbed the stairs to the balcony, singing and waving from there. The crowd cheered wildly.
He brought over numerous people with him: there were nine musicians on the stage (Neal himself, a bass, a drummer, two guitars, two keyboardists, a violin, and a guy with a sampler).
One of the guitarists changed now and then his electric guitar to an acoustic one, or to a weird looking stick sounding like a cello:
It’s curious Neal played a relatively simple midicontroller Fatar Studiologic SL-990, which features “graded hammer action keys for true piano feel” (it’s indeed better than a regular synthesizer’s keyboard, but still quite far from piano feel). I still own a very similar one, SL-760 (with 76 keys instead of 88), forgotten somewhere in a closet.
When we retraced our step to the parking, under the wiper we found an invitation to a “worship evening” with Mr Morse. He remains a devoted Christian all those years since 2002, as Wikipedia says… ■