Spock's Beard, May 11th 1999
Borders Books, Santa Monica, USA
By Neil Hunter

Well this had to be one of the oddest prog gigs I've ever attended, a Tuesday lunchtime in sunny downtown Santa Monica. The band (minus Ryo-who was inexplicably absent..) set up in a corner close to one of the entrances to the store which ,occaisionally ,caused some rather odd moments when customers just wishing to buy a book or drink coffee would walk in and have a confused look on their faces..

Eventually the band assembled and began to play; they were seated all very close to each other on wooden chairs : Nick-with one hand drum,Neal-with guitar ,Alan -with guitar and Dave, behind with an acoustic bass. The three guys at the front also all had microphones. After a short hello they kicked off the short set (which, it turns out,was actually just an " in store" appearance to promote the new CD) with Skin. It was immediatley apparent that even with very little rehearsal for this kind of show they could still deliver . I was amazed at how well their voices sounded with all the electronics stripped away. Skin is a very catchy song and hard not to like, so it proved an apt beginning.

The very informal feeling of the event was evident all the way through as Neal joked with the crowd (about 30-40 people, which quite crowded the space actually!) and with the other three guys -there was obviously a large element of nervousness there but once they began playing you wouldn't have known!

The next song was Distance to the sun, which sounded as good as the CD -even without the keyboards- the harmony vocals of Nick & Alan filled out all the emptiness the synths left and as with all the songs seemed to be played perfectly.

Then we were treated to an astounding ,stripped down version of The doorway, which Neal said at the the start he'd only decided to play on the way to the gig! this had to be heard to be believed! it was very funny hearing the guys fill in the keyboard parts with their voices! All the band seemed unsure of how this long song would work but all in attendance just loved it and there was rapturous applause as it ended.

The last song was June, probably the most obvious choice for this enviroment ,it worked wonderfully as we all sang along with the closing section.

Then it was over , quick but still enjoyable. the band then hung around for a good while to talk with all the fans and sign posters-what a nice bunch of people they are too!!
All I had to do was kill the six hours until the show in Hollywood that night , Oh what a day!



Distance to the Sun
The Doorway



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1999 DPRP