Recorded on Spock's Beard's tour for 2010's 'X', 'The X-Tour Live' is an unimaginatively titled double album from the band's show at the Downey Civic Theatre on 12th September 2010. If you've ever had the pleasure of attending a Spock's Beard gig (my last time was actually some years ago, back in 2005 in Holland on the 'Gluttons for Punishment' tour), then you'll be fully aware of what a massively entertaining live band they are. Music-aside, the band's banter with the audience and general fun vibe conveyed through their performances always makes for an entertaining night. However, that aspect is lost in just an audio format so we're simply left with almost two hours of their innovative prog-rock. Fortunately, though, it's prog-rock of the highest order, as has come to be expected from Spock's Beard, and 'The X-Tour Live' succeeds in capturing the Los Angeles musicians at their very best (assuming there are no over-dubs of course!). In fact, only very minimal between-song talking has been preserved here so it's largely music all the way, although don't expect a massive retro-feast of Beard classics. The first disc is solely comprised of tracks from 'X' with only four older songs on disc two mixed in with separate drum and synth solos. I know that solo spots at live shows are a contentious area for many a music fan, with many preferring to hear a band's setlist comprised of actual songs rather than individual displays of musical prowess, but to incorporate such on a CD is a little pointless to say the least. Nick D'Virgilio and Jimmy Keegan's 'Drum Duel' is particularly nonsensical in audio isolation from its visual significance. Still, that's a minor gripe and I believe a special edition version will also be available with a DVD of the show so fans who want to enjoy the full video/audio experience have that option too. The quality of the recording is rather good throughout and with occasional crowd sing-alongs mixed into the tracks, such as on second disc closer 'June', there's quite an authentic live feel to the whole thing. Can I recommend this release? Well, if you've already heard and enjoyed 'X' (of which the general consensus amongst fans is that it's up there with the band's best), and want to check out and own live versions of the album's tracks then you can't go far wrong. If, however, you're new to Spock's Beard then this offers little by way of introducing you to glimpses of their back catalogue. Definitely just one for the fans in that sense. After all, who else would want to endure a five minute drum duel on a live album?
Music Theories Recordings
THE X-TOUR LIVE
Review by Mark Holmes
75:33 & 42:30
13th Feb 2012
DISC ONE: 1) Edge of the In-Between; 2) The Emperor's Clothes; 3) From the Darkness; 4) The Quiet House; 5) The Man Behind the Curtain; 6) Kamikaze; 7) Jaws of Heaven
DISC TWO: 1) Drum Duel; 2) On a Perfect Day; 3) Thoughts; 4) Ryo's Solo; 5) The Doorway; 6) June
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN:
"If...you're new to Spock's Beard then this offers little by way of introducing you to glimpses of their back catalogue. Definitely just one for the fans in that sense."