Nick D'Virgilio + Neal Morse -
Two separate gorillas (Live in Europe) - 2000


"From the vault series vol. 2" was the title given to this double CD recorded during the acoustic tour that Nick D´Virgilio (guitar, vocals and percussion) and Neal Morse (guitar, vocals and keyboards) made in German and Dutch pubs during the summers of 1999 and 2000.


The first CD and four tracks from the second -recorded in Oldenburg - are the most interesting parts in the whole album, since they include some acoustic versions of Spock’s Beard recorded with a great sound that provides a different approach to the band’s music, due to the lack of electric instrumentation. Thanks to that, we can realize how impressive Neal can be as a multi-instrumentalist, and the great work carried out in order to soften Spock’s Beard’s complex themes. Unfortunately, most tracks included in this show were taken from "Day for night" (which is not exactly SB’s best album); however, they sound almost better than in their original version thanks to the intimate nature of the performance. From "Day for night", there is a beautiful "Distance to the sun"; a terrific "Skin" as well as "Lay it down/The healing colors of sun" and "Can’t get it wrong". Fortunately, there are also fragments of SB’s first works, like the wonderful versions of "The water/Go the way you go", "Strange world", and "The doorway". There are also some curiosities that we ought to highlight: a medley of U2 (including "Where the streets have no name" and "Pride"), a beautiful cover of Peter Gabriel’s "In your eyes", The Beatles’ "We can work it out" (required), and a Irish traditional song that Neal usually sings to his children and of course, he even dares to imitate the Irish accent (Pogues´ Beard?). As a negative -though very funny- point, we find a version of "The carpet crawlers" that is very disrespectful to the original one (who’s idea is it to belch while singing Gabriel... sacrilege!)

Right here, we have a very complete CD, marvelously performed by musicians that are not afraid of doing an acoustic show of great value (hey Mr. Wetton?), and with a high sound quality.

But we have another CD with more works. In that case, it is immediately evident that Neal and Nick were more concerned in having a nice time and amusing the audience than in recording a CD (the sound quality is poor). That’s why almost all the remaining tracks are versions focused on easy vocals and “ethylic happiness” like the traditional "Mein kleine gruner kaktus", or The Who’s classic "Baby O’Riley", with a flamenco-like ending. The quietest moments of this performance are "June" and "We all need some light", two nice live versions.

And there is also a surprise for Dream Theater fans, thanks to the great version of The Temptations’ "Papa was a rolling stone", in which the party goes on for more than 12 minutes of varied jams; and there is a crime that would make Lennon come back from his grave just to kick Portnoy’s ass, and it’s nothing else but an unbearable version of "Strawberry fields forever" (hey guy, keep on playing the drums imitating Neil Peart and leave poor Lennon alone).



We can definitely get to the conclusion that there is one CD and a small part of the other that could have been presented as a great “official” acoustic progressive rock album with interesting material, and that the rest of the 2nd CD could have been marketed separately for die-hard fans of the band. There will always be people saying that the tracks on the 2nd CD are “strange”, “interesting”, “with the public's voices providing a special ambiance”, etc..., but I believe that the works included on this record have to be seen on stage rather than listened to at home. Moral: 60% ****, but the rest means “don’t try it at home”.

author - date - rating - label

Alfonso Algora - December 2000 -   - Radiant Records