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The Neal Morse Band - Morsefest 2015 DVD review

All Neal Morse, all the time.

The Neal Morse Band - Morsefest 2015 DVD artwork

Preaching to the converted takes on a whole new meaning when you settle down to take in the expansive Morsefest 2015 DVD.

Recorded over two nights at the New Life Fellowship Church in Cross Plains, Tennessee, it encompasses Morse, his band, a choir, dancers, a brass section, strings, piano, harp and a smattering of special guests. The church, luckily, is the size of most theatres; otherwise things could have got uncomfortable around the altar. To his credit, it’s an extravagant, occasionally indulgent (not that the sold-out crowd care) look back at his career: the band revisit the Question and Sola Scriptura albums in full as well as rarely heard tunes from Spock’s Beard and Transatlantic, and surprise everyone with the revelation that almost everything, even a sprawling, 10-minute prog workout, sounds better with a brass section. The unified choral voices prickle the skin as they raise the songs ever higher. While the accompanying behind-the-scenes documentary offers a fleeting glimpse of how Morsefest gets made, not least the moment that drummer Mike Portnoy turns up literally the day after headlining a festival with Twisted Sister and attempts to get back into the evangelic groove.

Philip Wilding is a novelist, journalist, scriptwriter, biographer and radio producer. As a young journalist he criss-crossed most of the United States with bands like Motley Crue, Kiss and Poison (think the Almost Famous movie but with more hairspray). More latterly, he’s sat down to chat with bands like the slightly more erudite Manic Street Preachers, Afghan Whigs, Rush and Marillion.