Steven Wilson has announced a series of dates for his upcoming North American tour. The tour which will highlight his recent album To The Bone, kicks off April 20th in Quebec and concludes May 14th in Phoenix. Steven made a comment about the tour on Facebook.
“I’m happy to announce a return to the USA & Canada in April and May of next year with my band, and with a new show based on the current album To The Bone. As well as featuring songs from that album there will be favourites from previous tours, as well as some of my older songs that haven’t been played by the solo band before. The visual aspects of the show are planned to be on an even higher level than previous tours, and as always the sound will be in quadrophonic.”
Tickets go on sale this Friday (22nd September), don’t miss out!
Pics by Jon Fiala
Progressive rock invaded Tennessee this Labor Day weekend as it was once again time for Morsefest, Neal Morse’s weekend of prog in his hometown of Cross Plains, just outside of Nashville. This was the 4th such weekend, which is rather shocking considering Nashville is not exactly the hotbed of prog. For anyone that doesn’t know, the Morsefest weekend consists of Neal Morse playing 2 of his albums on consecutive Friday and Saturday nights. In 2014, it was Testimony and One. In 2015, it was the ‘?’ album and Sola Scriptura. Last year, the unbelievable happened as Spock’s Beard reunited with Neal Morse and Nick D’Virgilio to perform Snow for the first time ever. This year the festival returned to its namesake as the now Neal Morse Band were set to perform Testimony 2 on Friday night and the mammoth Similitude of a Dream on Saturday night along with the usual addition of long epics and surprises. For anyone in attendance, the band and the weekend did not disappoint.
Having had the privilege of attending Morsefest two prior times, in 2015 and 2016, it is hard to come up with new words to convey the awesomeness of what this weekend is. To say that it’s just for overzealous Neal Morse fans would be to shortchange what has become a beautiful community of prog fans from all over the world. Since its inception in 2014, not only have the audio and visual elements grown beyond any expectation, but the festival has repeat visitors, many for the 4th consecutive year; fans who have become friends in the interim staying in touch on Facebook and planning the trip to Cross Plains together, with attendees from as far as Iceland, Japan, China, and South Africa just to name a few places. This time a couple even got married Saturday morning. It has become that type of family event.
The weekend is exactly that, a full weekend from Friday afternoon to Sunday morning, where barely a minute is left unaccounted for, other than to get a quick lunch. Friday and Saturday afternoon both began with a VIP session where the band played a take-off on Wheel of Fortune called “Neal of Fortune”. Guests from the audience were picked to complete and win prizes while trying to figure out difficult answers like Randy George’s solo album “In the Light of the King’s Countenance”. From there, the band did a signing session where each fan got to speak with each member and get anything they wanted signed. This lasted over an hour. Then they took pictures with each person. Once this 3 hour meet and greet was over, the band ran through a sound check before letting the full audience back in. Meanwhile, the VIPs in attendance were fed a nice dinner down the hall.
As announced a few months earlier, Nick D’Virgilio was scheduled to open each night but no one really knew exactly what would take place. Friday night he appeared with songwriter Stan Ausmus, a long-time Spock’s Beard collaborater, and the two ran through a variety of acoustic choices from the Octane track “There Was a Time” to Nick’s own “Mary Jane Says”. Nick surprised everyone by singing a Big Big Train song “Telling the Bees”. The set closed with a tremendous version of the Spock’s classic “The Doorway”. It was a great way to kick off the evening.
Neal Morse along with Mike Portnoy, Eric Gillette, Bill Hubauer, and Randy George, took the stage and jumped into the title track from the Lifeline album. From there, they played two 30-minute epics “So Many Roads” and “Seeds of Gold”, only taking a break between to the two to do a rousing acoustic rendition of the song “Supernatural” with Bill playing the lead on mandolin. The group segued into an impromptu version “I’ve Seen All Good People” inviting the audience of 700-800 people to sing along. Both “lost” epics were truly “Epic” but it was “Seeds of Gold” that had everyone on their feet by the time it was over. Gillette filled in on the Steve Morse solo proving he doesn’t need to take a back seat to any guitar player.
After a short break, the band returned to perform the album Testimony 2. From the opener “Mercy Street” through the challenging “Time Changer” the band were flawless. The addition of a horn and string section, along with a choir, elevated the proceedings to another level. Morse than performed “Jayda” the story of his daughter’s miraculous recovery from a heart defect as a baby. The emotional Morse was in tears at the end as his daughter ran onstage to embrace him. There was barely a dry eye in the house. The band then tore through the rest of story, recanting how Morse decided to get off the road, and leave Spock’s Beard. Epic moments like “The Truth Will Set you Free” and “It’s For You” were pure prog ecstasy. The closing track “Crossing Over” was a beautiful conclusion to the evening as everyone stood in awe of what they had witnessed.
Saturday began early for the few hundred Inner Circle members, Neal’s fan club, who were treated to a private acoustic show by Neal, who was only joined briefly by his son Will and female vocalist Julie Harrison. The relaxed set was made up mostly unreleased material, some new, that Neal had written upon the band’s recent European tour. One called “He Died At Home” told the tale a soldier who took his own life as a result of PTSD, a truly sobering moment that left most grown men claiming they had something in their eye..
After another VIP session Saturday afternoon, the lines began to form around the New Life Fellowship Church, where the weekend was held. The merch table was overflowing with guests purchasing anything from Cds, Dvds, and shirts designed specifically for the event, the most popular being a shirt that said “Makes Zero Sense” a reference from the song “Makes No Sense” from the Similitude album. For any non-prog fan that sees the shirt outside of Morsefest, the shirt will most certainly cause an on-looker to agree with that sentiment.
This night began with another Nick D’Virgilio performance, this time with a unique performance with his band UniKue, a group made up entirely of Ukulele players. The group of 6 members, with Nick on drums, was a real treat, one perfectly designed for this audience. Playing songs like “Closer to the Heart” and closing with “Roundabout”, the group surprised everyone with how creative and spectacular this group of ukulele could be.
Then came the Neal Morse Band again, ready to perform their highly successful double concept album from last year, The Similitude of a Dream. They had been on tour for the last few months performing the album in its entirety. The tour coincidentally began in Nashville and now the band were set for their 50th performance of the album, which would also be the last show of the tour. They would send the album and tour off in grand fashion as a band of about 20 players, professional lighting and video teams, sound-man extraordinaire Rich Mouser, video designer Christian Rios and a cast of dozens more, put on the show for the ages. For anyone that had seen these band on this tour before, it was like seeing it for the first time.
Neal, Mike, Bill, Eric and Randy, were in complete synch from the opening of Long Day and did not speak to the audience until halfway through the second act. Highlights from the first act included “Makes No Sense”, Bill Hubauer’s “The Ways of the Fool”, the rocking “So Far Gone” with Eric Gillette leading the way, and the grand “Breathe of Angels”. The choir was a glorious addition to an already transcendent number. Act 2 brought on a few “Sloth” masks in the audience when that song came on as Neal slithered across the floor. The closing sections beginning with “The Mask” through “Broken Sky/Long Day (Reprise)” kept the audience standing and overwhelmed by the magnitude of the performance. The group returned for the encore of “Author of Confusion”, “Agenda” and “The Call”. It was a perfect ending for this long tour that has cemented the Neal Morse Band as a major force.
Sunday followed with 2 church services by Neal to round out the weekend. And there it was, another Morsefest in the books. Amazing production, amazing performances and an all around great time. While the music, as expected, was incredible, it was the fans and community of proggers that made this weekend so special. Neal and the band, along with Joey and Amy Pippen, organized a great weekend for all involved and left everyone excited about the next one. It is rare to get such an intimate experience with a band like this. Let’s hope it’s not too long until it happens again.
Night 1 setlist:
So Many Roads
Seeds of Gold
Night 2 setlist:
The Similitude of a Dream
Author of Confusion
Argentinian progressive rock luminaries Bad Dreams and PledgeMusic have joined forces, and the band has launched their first ever crowdfunding campaign for the release of their third album entitled “Chrysalis” which will hit the shelves worldwide on November 17th, 2017.
“It’s been a very busy year at the Bad Dreams camp and we have decided to harness the momentum and use all our energies into making a killer new record” – says Gabriel Agudo, the band vocalist – “We have teamed up with Pledge Music to be able to bring our project from inception to completion with the help of those who really matter: you, OUR FANS. It is with only with your support that we will be able to see this through. Our new album Chrysalis will be out next November, and we are asking you to step in and join us to make that dream a reality”
Hailing from the land better known for tango melodies, Bad Dreams is a group of veteran musicians who had honed their chops as a Genesis tribute band for 10 years. After the release their first album “Apocalypse of the Mercy” in 2014, they have been forging a name for themselves in the international prog-rock scene. “Apocalypse of the Mercy” garnered worldwide recognition among classic and progressive rock fans, and the band opened for Steve Hackett and played alongside Marillion’s Steve Rothery and his band during their South American leg. In 2015 they became the first South American band to be invited to the prestigious Cruise to the Edge celebration, sharing the bill with household names in the prog-rock scene like Yes, Marillion, Mike Portnoy, Änglagård, PFM, Neal Morse Band, Lifesigns, Allan Holdsworth, and many others; and performing two very successful shows in front of an audience which was unaware of the band and welcomed then with warm, standing ovations.
2016 saw the coming of their sophomore record, entitled “Déjà vu”, marking a significant turning point for the band. “Déjà vu” was a record which pandered to no label, no media framework and no pre-conceived rules, taking a reminiscent of the prog most glorious melodies to a new dramatic level, coalescing all the passion, virtuosity and mellotron-ladden melodies trademark of the band in an upbeat, nostalgia-drenched musical ride. Invited one more time to the Cruise to the Edge Festival aboard the Brilliance of the Seas ship, this time around they stole the show in a couple of occasions in front of feverish and clamoring crowds, and their flawless performance paved the way for their third invitation to the event in February 2018.
A new chapter in the history of the band is now unfolding and Jorge Tenesini, the band founder and keyboardist speaks about it: “We wanted to take a new approach to the recording of our new album and decided it won’t be a better way to do so than bringing our fans with us along the ride. In our PledgeMusic store (www.pledgemusic.com/projects/bad-dreams) they can pre-order the new record, plus a variety of other exclusive items we wanted to include, making the album buying process even more interesting. But we didn’t stop there: we decided to also throw in our first ever live release in the form of a Limited Box-Set including a Blu Ray and a DVD of our concert during Cruise to the Edge last February which we named “Live From The Edge”. We are also preparing to document the recording process and offer all of you who decide to join us in this journey some special behind the scene access to the creative process as it progresses. Tell your family and friends and let’s do this together!”
For the recording of “Chrysalis” the Argentinian have enlisted some special guest: singers Lorelei and Durga McBroom, also known as “The McBroom Sisters”, who performed as live backing vocals for Pink Floyd since 1989, will lend their angelical voices to a track entitled “Goblin’s Seduction”, tune which will also include a fantastic saxophone solo courtesy of Jamison Smeltz. Jota Morelli, considered by many the greatest drummer to ever be born in the land of Pampas (with an impressive resume as the stickman for Al Jarreau, Gloria Gaynor, Alejandro Sanz, Frank Gambale, Scott Henderson and countless more) will sit under the drumkit in “Change” and the title track “Chrysalis”, which will also have a unique melody-soaked guitar solo, once again played by the band longtime friend Steve Rothery. Angel Mahler, a world-renowned composer, pianist and orchestra conductor will be featured in another track.
On the other hand, the “Live From The Edge” Blu Ray/DVD Box will include the band’s presentation at The Pool Stage during the last Cruise to the Edge in February 2017, including a guest appearance by Steve Rothery. Both discs will be house in a single box, with the Blu Ray sporting three audio tracks: Stereo Uncompressed PCM, Dolby Digital 5.1 and DTS-HD Master Audio. A picture gallery of the show will be included in both DVD and Blu Ray discs.
Throughout and up to the album release, the band will keep the PledgeMusic and Bad Dreams fans updated with the album’s progress and news from their world through the PledgeMusic AccessPass. “We consider PledgeMusic to be the best in their field and after much thought feel that they as the new masters of the art, offer the band and the fans the most exciting possibilities” – concludes Gabriel Agudo – “We also want to thank all our fans for their amazing support over the years and we hope this excites them as much as it does for us!”
SONS OF APOLLO, the highly anticipated new project featuring former Dream Theater members Mike Portnoy and Derek Sherinian, Ron “Bumblefoot” Thal (ex-Guns N’ Roses), Billy Sheehan (The Winery Dogs, Mr. Big, David Lee Roth) and Jeff Scott Soto (ex-Journey, ex-Yngwie Malmsteen’s Rising Force) have announced their debut album ‘Psychotic Symphony’ for release on October 20th, 2017 via InsideOutMusic / Sony. Now they are pleased to reveal their first track titled ‘Signs of the Time’.
Mike comments: “Signs Of The Time was the very first thing myself, Derek & Bumblefoot wrote when we got together to begin writing for Sons Of Apollo in March of this year.
It starts with this heavy, brutal Bumbleriff (initally coined “Korntera”), then goes into a cool verse with a 2-Pt vocal melody that I wrote sung by Jeff and myself…which eventually opens up to a HUGE vocal hook in the chorus that Jeff wrote (sung in 3-Pt harmony by Jeff, myself and Bumblefoot)
The middle section riffs are a few things that Derek brought in and show why he is the most BADASS keyboard player in the biz (playing the keys like a guitar player on fire!) and then we have the long extended breakdown and guitar solo which shows why Bumblefoot is one of today’s greatest GUITAR HEROES! This album is going to get him the recognition he truly deserves and this particular guitar solo is one of the tastiest, most insane solos I’ve EVER heard…
So all in all, this song has a little bit of everything that makes Sons Of Apollo so special…great heavy riffs, amazing solos with individual instrumental virtuosity and a big, catchy chorus with more hooks than a tackle box!!
I figured this would be a great “first taste” to introduce the world to this amazing new supergroup…and there’s a whole lot more of different musical styles and twist & turns still to come all throughout the album…”
The debut album, PSYCHOTIC SYMPHONY is now available to pre-order on 2CD Mediabook (featuring a second disc of instrumental mixes), Gatefold 2LP vinyl + CD, Standard Jewelcase CD & digital download.
Pre-order now here:
The full track-listing is as follows:
1. God of The Sun
2. Coming Home
3. Signs of the Time
6. Lost In Oblivion
7. Figaro’s Whore
8. Divine Addiction
9. Opus Maximus
Anneke van Giersbergen’s new band VUUR have unveiled the cover artwork and tracklist for their forthcoming debut album, ‘In This Moment We Are Free – Cities’. The 11-track LP is due for release on October 20th via InsideOut Music and includes ‘Days Go By – London’, which the band released early June and can be heard here:
Regarding the cover artwork, band founder Anneke says:
“The cover is designed by Black & Finch with whom I’ve previously worked on the ‘Verloren Verleden’ release.
The lyrical themes of this album revolve around cities and freedom. Exposure to big cities can be overwhelming and you can feel engulfed by everything around you. At the same time it’s easy to be a stranger in a big city and for me that brings out a feeling of freedom as well. This past year I’ve thought a lot about the virtues of rural versus urban life, since me and my family are moving back to the city. It’s very exciting, but at the same time I know that sense of urban solitude from past experiences. The cover artwork represents this duality.”
VUUR’s full length debut was produced by Joost van den Broek, who was also involved in the writing process. Others co-writing partners are Mark Holcomb (Periphery), Esa Holopainen (Amorphis), Daniel Cardoso (Anathema), and both of VUUR’s guitar players wrote a song as well.
‘In This Moment We Are Free – Cities’ tracklist:
01. My Champion – Berlin
02. Time – Rotterdam
03. The Martyr And The Saint – Beirut
04. The Fire – San Francisco
05. Freedom – Rio
06. Days Go By – London
07. Sail Away – Santiago
08. Valley Of Diamonds – Mexico City
09. Your Glorious Light Will Shine – Helsinki
10. Save Me – Istanbul
11. Reunite! – Paris