Friday, December 20, 2013

Gig review - Neal Morse band Featuring Mike Portnoy at Mood Indigo, IIT Bombay.

Year: 2013

This was one gig that I had anticipated for a long time and even missed the likes of Black Metal Krieg 3 for. To watch the God of all drummers play. Mind you, I did have my fill. The gig on the following evening with Neal Morse and Mike Portnoy was worth the 600 bucks I paid for. Hell, it was worth much,much more than that.

Before I go on to explain the details of this gig, let me tell you about the gig I had attended just before this one. Same venue, a performance by The Outside Track, who played their unique brand of an amalgamation of Scottish, Irish and Canadian folk rock. They gave a pretty energetic and upbeat performance with amazing tap dances in between, and even ended up covering the Nicole Scherzinger version of A.R.Rahman's superhit Jai Ho.

Then I ran towards the OAT venue at full speed (I expected a huge line,and I must tell you that my expectations were more than fulfilled). I was a little too much in the back,so I sadly missed the winning bands of Mood Indigo Livewire-IIT Mumbai's semi-professional band competition- Tick's Talk, The F-16s and The Beetroots.

The opening act was India's guitar god and the creator of the Carnatic Rock riff, ex-member and one of the founding members of Motherjane, Baiju Dharmajan with his band The Baiju Dharmajan Syndicate, which was a last minute fill in because Mumbai rockers Zero could not perform. For me, this was much more suited to open for an act such as Neal Morse, than Zero as it was a more of a progressive band and Zero is more of an upbeat punkish rock band. Baiju sir showed all present as why he's called one of the best of India, with his amazing riffs and never-ending dreamy Carnatic styled solos except for one technical snag in between where all the instruments just stopped playing. The band made up for this by throwing their CDs to the crowd. They had an hour long set which included the acclaimed "Mile Sur Mere Tumhare", "Demented" and "Karna", among many others.

After Baiju's set ended,the crowd was waiting with bated breath for Neal Morse band and (essentially) Mike Portnoy to come on stage.Suddenly the lights went off. The whole crowd went aghast with the incessant chanting of "Portnoy!Portnoy!" and small snippets of "Technician! Technician!" when the sound technician came on stage. When the light came back, but the band didn't, the crowd wondered what had happened. It just  was that the crowd was too close to the stage and the band was insecure to perform that way. So the volunteers requested the crowd to move back, and after much persuasion and much wastage of time, the crowd did move back.

Finally when the band entered, the crowd went crazy. They started the concert with the title track of their latest album, "Momentum" and then went on to play "Weathering Sky" from the same album. Mike Portnoy was his usual badass self doing all those tricks and interacting with the crowd and still drumming like a beast. Neal Morse has a voice which is fit for Progressive music and an amazing talent when it comes to playing any instrument, be it the guitar or the keyboards. Randy George, the third guy who is instrumental in making music for the band, gave an amazing performance at the bass. Adson Sodre was crazy at the guitars and so was Bill Hubaeur on keyboards. They gave a brilliant, out of the world performance with a varied set list consisting of songs from both Neal Morse's solo career and that from the supergroup Transatlantic. Then finally when the set apparently ended and the band left the stage, the host came forward to give a vote of thanks to the organizers. But then Portnoy came on stage, grabbed the mike and said "If he has time to talk,we have time to play!" and then the band played one more song and ended it on an amazing note.

For all those who were present there, Neal Morse featuring Mike Portnoy was something that they would never forget their whole lives.

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