Neal Morse Band Concert Review-Combs Performing Arts Center 02/24/22

Neal Morse Band Concert Review-Combs Performing Arts Center 02/24/22

The Neal Morse Band made the last stop of their 2022 winter tour in the USA at the gorgeous and all new Combs Performing Arts Center in the San Tan Valley of Arizona; a new intimate venue that was opened in 2019. The NMB band is a group of virtuoso musicians consisting of Neal Morse, guitars, keyboards and lead vocals, Mike Portnoy (formerly of Dream Theater)-drums, Randy George on bass, Bill Hauber on keyboards, and Eric Gillette, guitar additional lead vocals. The NMB is a collaborative group of great musicians coming together who musically all have a lot to say.

This tour is in support of the band’s latest highly acclaimed release, “Innocence & Danger” and from the new release the band presented six new songs to this enthusiastic audience. After the pre-recorded intro, the set began with the grandiose beginning to the song Do it All Again from their latest, Innocence & Danger. Out of the gate, the band set a precedence with their expressive 70s style prog rock, that took the listener through a variety of musical moods.

The shorter songs in their set could be described as an evolving musical atmosphere, that was a mix of straight ahead prog rock with some eccentric passages. The longer and more expansive songs were presented in the form of a musical score that would be fitting for a play or a movie – with Neal Morse as a lead character running about the stage like a performer in a play, acting out the various scenes throughout the production. To accompany the bands’ music, a video screen behind drummer Portnoy displayed scenes from certain songs that would express that song’s evolving storyline and usually included, at some point in the video, the song’s name, which was a very smart way to associate the music with the song titles for those who were less familiar with their music.

As an entertainer and performer, Neal Morse is a tornadic force of energy that keeps everyone on the edge of their seat while he engages and interacts with the audience throughout the evening. His contagious enthusiasm permeates through the air, captivating the listener with his heartfelt and enthralling presence and is so much fun to watch.

Neal Morse

Throughout the night, the other band members presented some notable highlights of their own. Guitarist Eric Gillette presented some excellent solos throughout the night. When using his “Stratocaster”, his solos were soulful and tasty, and on his seven string guitar, he gave a display of sheer technical brilliance with the extra string giving him the ability to make blistering runs on the neck that would be near impossible to accomplish on a six string. His solos in combination with his superb vocals added a memorable dynamic to the show.

Eric Gillette

Bassist Randy George left the side lines to come front and center of the stage to express some of his brilliant expertise with his bass. His solo was more akin to that of a guitarist than a bass player, with his blistering runs and brain numbing finger tapping, his bass soloing chops will leave you in awe!

Randy George

The solo by drummer Mike Portnoy was overflowing with a wealth of knowledge that was bundled into a concise package of expressive feelings. It’s always a pleasure to see and hear what Portnoy has to say on the drums and it is great to finally see him back out on the road performing and doing what he loves .

Mike Portnoy

An acoustic moment in the show was particularly exquisite, with four of the five band members sitting at the front of the stage to join together with their well accomplished harmonies which to my surprise included the welcome addition of drummer Portnoy‘s participation; we expected Portony to add some percussion but harmonies too, very cool!

Neal Mmorse Band Live San Tan Arizona
L-R_Mike Portnoy-Neal Morse-Bill Hauber-Eric Gillette

The audience was well versed with the band’s material as they sang along throughout the show, with emphasis given to the band’s tribute to the Simon and Garfunkel classic “Bridge Over Troubled Water”. The audience participation during the medley encore brought everyone to their feet during the segment for “The Great Adventure”. The “Great Adventure” became a unification of people as if the participants were a single entity, holding their arms in the air as they swayed back and forth to the music. The Neal Morse Band is a band that is an expression that goes beyond music, dare I say, it can elevate one to an almost mystical and otherworldly experience. Check this band out live, and experience the feeling for yourself; you’ll be glad you did!

Check the Neal Morse Band combs Performing Arts Center Photo gallery Here!

The setlist was:

Innocence Intro from tape

Do It All Again

Bird On A Wire

Your Place In The Sun

The Way It Had To Be / Breat (Reprise) The Great Gig In The sky (Intro) / Bridge Over Troubled Water


Danger Intro

Not Afraid Part 2

Beyond The Years


Medley: Long Day / City of Destruction / So Far Gone / The ways of a Fool / Welcome to the World / The Great Adventure / A Love That Never Dies / Broken Sky / Long Day