Morpheus Rising played a headline gig at Bilston Robin 2, with support from Fahran. Because the gig was more than week ago, I didn’t take proper notes, I’ve reviewed Morpheus Rising many times before and it was a few days after Stabcon, I’m going to write this up as if it was a session of Umläut: The Game of Metal.
In Umläut terms, Fahrah’s strongest performance trait was Stagecraft, and their set consisted largely of Face-Melters. They did well enough to win at least one Impression Check, and won themselves some Glory. They’re a very young band, and on the strength of performances like this they’re going places.
The level of musicianship and especially their strength of songcraft suggest that Morpheus Rising’s best performance trait is Technique, though their Stagecraft and Power were hardly lacking. In the absense of drummer Nigel Durham who’d suffered a shoulder injury, former drummer Paul “Gibbo” Gibbons stood in on drums having hurredly learned the band’s new songs, and the band were still as tight as ever. Despite only two albums I heard the set described as sounding like a greatest hits set, with the bulk of the new album “Eximius Humanus” alongside highlights from the debut. Morpheus Rising too came away from the gig with plenty of Glory.
Today is Record Store Day. You could of course spend the day buying the albums you loved on vinyl but never owned on CD, or fill in the gaps in the 70s Jethro Tull back catalogue. Or even waste your money on cynical cash-in box sets.
Or instead you could buy some exciting new music released in 2014. At least some of these albums have been seen on the shelves of my local HMV.
- Panic Room, Incarnate – A little more stripped-back, intimate and confessional than the wide-screen rock of its predecessor, their fourth album is a beautiful work which may take a few listens to fully appreciate its subtleties.
- Gazpatcho, Demon – Dark and sinister folk-prog from Norway. At times it sounds like Talk Talk’s Mark Hollis fronting The Decemberists, at times there are strong echoes of Marillion. This is another of those records that will reward after many listens.
- Matt Stevens, Lucid – An ambitious and varied instrumental album that defies easy pigeonholing. The London-based guitarist has been one of the more interesting, innovative and genre-busting artists in the contemporary progressive scene for a while now, and this album sees him raise his game to a new level.
- Halo Blind, Occupying Forces – Combines indie-rock guitars with progressive rock atmospherics. Shimmering summery pop numbers with a hint of darkness and melancholy flow into one another to build into something more than the sum of the parts.
- Bigelf, Into the Maelstrom – Imagine the melodic ear of The Beatles, the sense of doom of Black Sabbath, the theatricality of The Crazy World of Arthur Brown, the musical ambition of King Crimson, and the lack of restraint of early Queen. That’s what this album sounds like.
- Morpheus Rising, Exmimus Humanus – Classic old-school twin-guitar hard rock given a modern makeover.
One of the standout tracks from Morpheus Rising’s “Eximus Humanus”, notable for Pete Harwood’s E-bow solo.
Morpheus Rising chose Bilston Robin 2 as the location for the launch of their second album, both as an excellent rock venue with great acoustics, and as a central location that’s accessible for fans across the country. Not only that, the show also marked the live début of Luna Rossa, Anne-Marie Helder and Jon Edwards’ acoustic Panic Room side project.
Luna Rossa played a beautiful set, drawn almost entirely from “Sleeping Pills and Lullabies”. Shorn of the strings and additional instrumentaion of the album, the stripped-down sound of just voice, piano and guitar emphasised the strength of the songs. Jon Edwards’ expressive piano and Anne-Marie’s equally expressive voice make a perfect combination in a live setting, and songs like “Heart On My Sleeve” came over especially well. The one all-new song was an atmospheric piece featured electric piano and some of Anne-Marie’s flute, and offered an intriguing taster for the next Luna Rossa album. They closed with the multi-layered “Gasp”, the one time they resorted to backing tracks for a song that wouldn’t work without the strings and looped backing vocals.
Then it was time for the twin guitar classic hard rock of Morpheus Rising. Their shows supporting Panic Room last hear had previewed quite a few of the new songs, one of two of which even became live favourites. But for the launch show the band played the whole album including the two download-only bonus tracks. The whole thing came over very powerfully live, so much so that it’s hard to pick a single highlight, though “Bending Light” with Pete Harwood’s e-bow solo came over especially strongly. With new drummer Nigel Durham they’ve gone up another gear as a live band.
They had intended to continue with the highlights of their first album, but unfortunately a poorly drummer forced them to curtail their set, making for a slightly confusing ending. They did come back for one more number, a rousing rendition of “Lords of the North”. But the slightly premature end failed to take the edge off a fantastic night. On paper, the two very different acts sharing a bill ought never to have worked. But the combination of delicate acoustic beauty with full-on rock and roll ended up complimenting each other extremely well, and the whole thing made for a remarkable evening.
As readers of this blog ought to have noticed, I’m a big supporter of co-headline gigs, where two highly complementary bands not only give audiences good value for money, but both bands gain exposure to each other’s fanbases.
Also Eden and Morpheus Rising have played on the same bill before, and they’re together again on March 8th at The Asylum 2 in Birmingham. This ought to be a great night.
Morpheus Rising are now taking pre-orders for their album “Eximus Humanus”. The band funded the album with a successful Kickstarter campaign. Those of us who backed the have already downloaded the digital version of the album, and it’s exvellent. Now is the turn of those of you who missed the kickstarter.
Morpheus Rising will be playing a launch gig at Bilston Robin 2 on 23rd February, with Luna Rossa as the support, which ought to be an excellent night.
Morpheus Rising have annonced the launch gig for the Kickstarted-funded second album “Eximius Humanus”, at Bilston Robin 2 on Sunday 23rd February 2014.
With a strong crossover fan base, Morpheus Rising deliver an energetic and powerful show which appeals to the Classic Rock and Prog fans alike. This will be the band’s first headline show at the Robin, having previously played shows supporting the likes of Panic Room.
Not only that, but the show will also be the first even live appearance of Luna Rossa, Anne-Marie Helder and Jonathan Edwards superb acoustic project.
In this, their first ever live performance as ‘Luna Rossa’, the duo will explore the stripped-back splendour and beauty of their debut album ‘Sleeping Pills & Lullabies’. A rare treat for any fans of Panic Room or those who love the magic of timeless, entrancing songwriting.
This is looking like a show not to be missed.
Congratulations to Morpheus Rising for hitting their Kickstarter Target for their long-awaited second album with nine days to spare.
Happy Birthday to Andy Smith, bassist for Mostly Autumn and Morpheus Rising, and all round top bloke.