To paraphrase a different Captain, “it is possible to commit no errors and still lose. That is not a weakness, that is progressive rock.” Whilst Spock’s Beard have the skill and energy required to be a good progressive rock band, that’s not exactly a compliment.
On a cold January night, the atmospheric floor of Glasgow’s understated Classic Grand is an ideal location for a cast of seasoned prog rockers to take their fans on a voyage of symphonic discovery. With limited staging and simple lighting evocative of a ’50s sci-fi movie, Spock’s Beard are able to showcase every facet of their character; from strange fashion – jarringly shiny shirts blended with bathroom wallpaper patterns and dusty bandanas; to highly illogical theatrics – special shout out to keyboardist Ryo Okomoto who takes the concept of spirit fingers to brave new worlds.
After over a decade clocked up on the live music scene, Spock’s Beard are clearly well-prepped for delivering a show. Armed with an impressive 13 albums behind them, the band have a plethora of tunes at their disposal designed to fill a long set. Sadly, that’s really the extent of what the songs can do. Despite the obvious talent of the performers, smashing their trademark complex harmonies and interesting vocals, they’re too often defeated by the limitations of their genre, as the repetitive styles and underwhelming melodies make it difficult to distinguish one song from another. Though the band give it all they have to try and captivate the audience with bizarre showmanship, they’re musicians, not miracle workers, and the music too often feels better suited to backing up a video game than headlining a gig.
Nonetheless, Spock’s Beard seem to have become something of an enterprise, with a plethora of dedicated fans behind them. Filling the floors of the Classic Grand, these fans respond well to every note, rhythm, and unconventional dance move. In fact, most seem more enthusiastic than the actual band, although this may be due to their closer proximity to the bar.
It seems that the only logical explanation for the continued success of the band could be that a niche gang of music lovers sought to discover a dedicated progressive rock band, and they made it so. Much like a review littered with banal Star Trek references, Spock’s Beard don’t boldly go where no one has gone before, but they do go confidently where their fans ask them to, and with fans as dedicated as theirs, it’s no wonder Spock’s Beard continue to live long and prosper.