Reviewed by James Stafford
The original album was reviewed in CR81, and it is a prog rock masterpiece. Some of the best prog rock and metal tell stories, and here you have the story of Neal Morse's testimony. Musically very good, with elements of Kansas and Yes, and obviously Morse's large input into Spock's Beard and Transatlantic. For the live set he retains the amazing drumming talents of Mike Portnoy (Dream Theater, Liquid Tension Experiment, Transatlantic), but has six other Christian musicians, of note Rick Altizer and Randy George (of Ajalon) and the multi-talented Eric Brenton. The quality of musicianship and the concert recording are excellent. Visually, the concert is merely Morse and his group onstage, but this is what you want to see - the real Morse giving his real musical testimony. The bonus disc is behind-the-scenes camcorder footage of the band members on tour, including (slightly) spiritual discussions. It is interesting stuff, but it is camcorder quality. It was intriguing to see how Portnoy fitted in with the Christians, including the American/Pentecostal cultural "raise your hands in the air to God" moment, which he joined in. Make of it what you will. To end, please don't put Neal Morse on a pedestal. Firstly, he is not a trophy (if anything, all believers are). Secondly, what if he fades away spiritually? What if he goes the way of Bob Dylan, Gary Cherone, Doug Pinnick, Roger Martinez, Klay Scott, Marcos Curiel and many other "Christian" artists who have spiritually faded, backslidden or apostasised? Just enjoy this for what it is and get stuck into your Bible.
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