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Rick Wakeman

Artist: Rick Wakeman

Venue: York, Barbican

Date: 24th February 2024


"As I have said numerous times, when talented musicians such as Rick Wakeman come out on tour, anyone who appreciates good music and ultimate skill to perform such music deserves all the support they can get."


 

© Andy B
© Andy B

Having heard the excellent recording of Rick Wakeman and the English Rock Ensemble’s performance at the London Palladium last year, I was quite looking forward to this. There has been a change in the ranks since then however, with vocalist Hayley Sanderson being replaced with Mollie Marriott, daughter of the late vocalist and guitarist with Small Faces and Humble Pie, Steve Marriott.

 

The band entered the stage around seven-thirty, closely followed by the man himself, resplendent in a red, gold and green sequinned cape. This first half of the show wasn’t that long, around forty minutes, and totally dedicated to Wakeman’s time with Yes, kicking off with an excellent version of ‘Roundabout’, followed by what is titled ‘The Yes Suite’, featuring ‘The Meeting’, ‘Wondrous Stories’ and ‘South Side Of The Sky’, and which started with the three backing vocalists, Nick Shirm, Izzy Chase and Tess Burrstone, harmonising perfectly before the main vocals kicked in. Adam Wakeman shared various synth leads with his dad, while I think the gritty sound of Dave Colquhoun’s guitar adds a more “rocky” edge to the proceedings, although to be honest some of the lead parts did get a little lost in the mix. The first half ended with a sublime version of ‘And You And I’, which caused a bit of a murmur through the crowd when announced. The only thing missing from this for me was the slide guitar, originally used by Steve Howe, but performed with a bottle neck tonight, which wasn’t bad, but just not quite “it”.

 

Set List (Spoilers)


After the twenty minute “pee break” (the first half being short as Mr Wakeman told us he now has a weak bladder), he, now adorned in a different cape, told us a story about working with his good friend, the late Jon Lord, who told him that he was compiling all the bits of music he hadn’t completed in an attempt to finish them as he was very unwell at the time. While retuning from the funeral after his passing, he thought about what Lord had said and decided to do just that, and re-record ‘Journey To The Centre Of The Earth’ in its entirety, as it was originally written, before the record company made him cut it short. He then told us “That is the version you are getting tonight”. So, for an hour that’s what we got, and I do have to say the whole thing works better for it, including the recorded narration of Peter Egan, flowing better and making more sense as a complete musical piece. Again, the backing vocalists make a world of difference, and are quite entertaining with their co-ordinated hand gestures and steps as they perform. Unsurprisingly there was a standing ovation at the end of it.

 

After a brief departure from the stage, they returned for the encore, namely ‘Starship Trooper’, and quite a lot went on during this. First we had Lee Pomeroy centre stage, with a dazzling “Slap-bass” solo, followed by Adam Wakeman coming to stage front with his keytar, and some lightning-fast finger-work (he must have had a half decent teacher). It also featured Dave Calquhoun’s lead guitar prowess before Adam and Rick Wakeman both came forward to do their eye to eye keyboard duel. While this was happening, the backing vocalists were all playing on his keyboards, while the vocalist was on her knees playing the bass pedals with her hands. I’ve never seen that before.

 

As I have said numerous times, when talented musicians such as Rick Wakeman come out on tour, anyone who appreciates good music and ultimate skill to perform such music deserves all the support they can get. Tonight’s show was completely sold out, so it proves we are still out there, even if we are getting older. But that’s the other thing. So are they, and at some point will stop, due to retirement, illness, can’t be arsed or, God forbid, that which awaits us all. Go out and see these people at every opportunity, before it’s too late! Rick is touring again, with Adam, towards the end of the year, and I have it on fairly good authority that he is planning to do ‘King Arthur’ with the band next year. Go and be amazed.


Set List

 

Review: Andy B,/Lou C. Photos: Andy B.

 


 

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