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NDV: Live & Acoustic (DVD+CD)

Spock's Beard drummer-turned-frontman Nick D'Virgilio, with his enormous voice, multi-instrumental talent and humble yet engaging and expressive stage presence, has got to be one of progressive rock's most affable fellows. And on Live & Acoustic, recorded at IMUSICAST in Oakland, Calif., on Sept. 14, 2003, the guy offers yet more reasons to like him.

Joined on a sparse stage by guitarist Rick Musallam, two acoustic guitars, an Afro-Peruvian wooden percussion box called a cajon and an unfortunately subdued audience, a blonde-tipped D'Virgilio runs through unplugged reworkings of material from his solo album Karma and Spock's Beard's first Neal Morse-less disc Feel Euphoria. But the crowd responds most enthusiastically to older Spock's material like "Strange World" and a three-song Snow medley of "I'm The Guy," "Reflection" and "Carie." And D'Virgilio's performance of "Thoughts, Pt. 1" needs to be seen by anyone who still considers the man "just a drummer."

Another surprise is the inclusion of "City of the Sun," a song written by the late Kevin Gilbert, with whom D'Virgilio and other members of Spock's Beard were friends. At times during this 55-minute performance, as on Feel Euphoria, D'Virgilio's voice takes on characteristics of Morse's voice. The singer's vocal range is unbelievably wide, and Musallam's quiet, deeper voice lends added texture to many of these songs. Stellar audio quality and flawless musicianship, however, are marred slightly by the technicality of the screen fading to black after each song, removing most between-song banter.

The bonus material is highlighted by a live version of Yes' "Long Distance Runaround" by D'Virgilio and guitarist Mike Keneally, an impromptu drum performance of "Karma" on an empty ProgDay 2003 stage and the drum solo from a gig in Lowell, Mass.

A companion Live & Acoustic CD features a slightly different track listing than the DVD, plus four bonus tracks from a July 2002 gig at New York City's Bottom Line (including an understated version of Peter Gabriel's "Here Comes the Flood"). Both discs prove why D'Virgilio remains such an endearing performer.

DVD Track Listing:
1) The River Is Wide
2) The Bottom Line
3) Strange World
4) Shining Star
5) Karma
6) I'm the Guy
7) Reflection
8) Carie
9) Thoughts Pt. 1
10) City of the Sun
11) Carry On

CD Track Listing:
1) The Bottom Line
2) The River Is Wide
3) Strange World
4) Shining Star
5) Karma
6) I'm the Guy
7) Reflection
8) Carie
9) Thoughts Pt. 1
10) City of the Sun
11) 10 Years Gone
12) The Waters Edge
13) The Water/Time Has Come
14) Here Comes the Flood

Added: May 24th 2004
Reviewer: Michael Popke
Related Link: Official NDV Web Site
Hits: 2133
Language: english

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