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The PP Guru should have gotten to this sooner, like last weekend- but you know how the PP Guru's schedule is like these days with all the sitting back reading DC Showcases and Marvel Essentials volumes as if they were Johnny Cakes, then kicking back sucking off the glass teat on season finales of The Sopranos, 24, and Lost, in all the while trying to reconcile with his *Ahem* Film Star Neighbor - it's as if no one has time to really play with the PP Guru's pud anymore - least of all himself!!
However, a few Fridays ago, the PP Guru was fortunate enough to pick himself up by his tunic bootstraps and went over to check out the Spock's Beard show at the Hollywood Key Club. Suprisingly enough - as the PP Guru's nom de plume is known as Cary Coatney very seldom in the comic book biz - he is more widely known in the progressive rock music circle as a comic book writer and a concert reviewer than his colleagues in the four color biz themselves. So the PP Guru is bound to make his rounds through the standing room only crowd and hear a nibble or two there about prog music industry gossip. And golly, did he come across a few doozies!!
First he came across Kurt Barabas - bass player for Under the Sun- a local prog band from Chatsworth, Ca of all places had last released their debut album on Magna Carta in 2000- a label now owned by a bunch of sicko cuthroats who do nothing but release compilation and outtake projects of artists who by now have jumped ship and are charting better waters with InsideOut Music. Magna Carta has irked the wrath of Mike Portnoy, he the thundering percussion god genius behind Dream Theater, O.S.I., Liquid Tension Experiment, and Transatlantic is suing the shit out of Magna Carta for unpaid royalities of a compilation album that was released without his permission. Under the Sun being no different, is finally going to release their second studio disc with Insideout Music sometime in September. Talks are under way for Landescape Productions to promote their new disc on the back of the new Deposit Man: Playgod mini-series debuting this fall.
Secondly, why just standing a few rows behind was none other than John Payne - now ex-bassist and co-collaborator of the recent incarnation of Asia. Now that the current line-up of the new improved Asia (keyboarist Geoff Downes, bassist and vocalist John Payne, guitarist Gutherie Govan and drummer Jay Schellen ) had been forced to dissolve to make way for the reunion of original members Downes, Steve Howe, John Wetton, and Carl Palmer who will be touring in September . Meanwhile, John Payne has been left in a pickle, with no choice but to scrap all the work that Geoff Downes recorded on their new - never to be released album, Architect of Life and in order to carry on with the current line-up- the name had to be changed to....ONE. And a new keyboardist had to be brought in to rework the parts that Geoff had did.
Enter Spock's Beard... who put on a spectacular show at the Key Club. The PP Guru arrived a tad too late to catch the first opening band, Psychic Mafia, but was fortunate enough to arrive when the second band Apparition stormed on stage. A prog band led by three brothers that could be aptly described as something as a cross between Black Sabbath and Dream Theater as the lead singer was flanked by on the front of the stage by a pair of Korg TRITON Musicstations as he desparately attacked both keyboards with Keith Emerson stabbing motions as he sang and growled through six and seven hard cutting numbers. The PP Guru thought it was a interesting amagamation, and they certainly sound better than they do on the demo CD that they were passing out (dynamics a little weak in the mix, boys?) to all attendees before the time Spock's Beard hit the stage.
The Beard boys hit the stage approximately 10:50 that night and opened up with a cover of George Harrison's Beware of Darkness (from their second album of the same name) before launching into a abbreviated version of their side long epic, A Flash Before Your Eyes which is the track that opens their lastest studio album, Octane. A lot of material that was played that night focused mainly on songs from Octane and the previous album, Feel Euphoria, only because these are the two that no longer feature founding member Neal Morse and the vocal reins have since now been picked up by drummer, Nick D'Virgilio. A few classic from Neal's tenure were featured including the fantastic mellifluous opener of V, At the End of the Day. The audience was treated to amazing musical feats of fancy including Nick's tango with a cowbell, duet drumming 101, saying the word "motherfucker" during a piano recital is never a good way to say you're sorry, and a suspenseful synthesizer sumo wrestling match between D'Virgilio and our best Japanese import on piano, organ, and synthesizer Ryo Okumoto - who- as to bring things to light in full circle- is the new keyboard player working with John Payne in ONE.
It must have been a trip down memory lane for the PP Guru - as crunched up to the stage with a camcorder and a digital camera was none other than the once crowning princess of prog journalists herself - the one who started it all with her fanzine publication newsletter Music News Network, Christine Holtz. This gal has traveled to a gazillion countries twice, sometimes even thrice over to capture the best moments in live prog history. Negotiations are under way for the PP Guru to do a little pitch hitting on the live LA Circuit when she gets the online magazine...back online and running. We shall see, our little PP Guru grumpets, we shall see.
Oh, and Chris Squire quit the Syn. What a fucking relief.
As recited lyric and verse to: