Thursday, 20 June 2013

Live Review: Rick Wakeman

Date: 16th and 17th June 2013
Venue: Centaur, Cheltenham
Gig Buddies: Phil (both nights), Alex (second night)

I had been looking forward to these shows as soon as I found out about them. When the first bits of information came out about them it was meant to be two different productions, but in the end it was the same show twice. I can't complain, it was great, both nights.

Previously I'd only seen Rick on a solo show so didn't really know what to expect from a bigger show. After an interesting day (see my personal blog) my gig buddy, Phil, and I got into the venue in plenty of time to hang around in the bar for a little while. Here Phil bumped into a couple of people that he had met at the Gloucester show the day before. This led to my favourite moment at prog gigs with Phil,
being introduced as being there of my own free will! I know I'm not the only female prog rock fan out there, I know a few over on twitter etc... but sometimes it is very noticeable that certain audiences are predominantly male.

Anyway, that's all by the by really. On to the show. There was an orchestra, a choir and the English Rock Ensemble on the stage. It was just big enough to house them all. The orchestra tuning elicited applause from wags in the audience on the first night, but they got the last laugh when, on the second night, the lead violin took a little bow at the end of the tuning.

The sound on the first night took a while to get properly balanced, a problem that was solved by the second half and certainly gone by the second night.   Lengthy pieces such as vast chunks of The Myths And Legends of King Arthur and The Knights of the Round Table in the first half and the same of Journey To The Centre of the Earth in the second half were neatly balanced with shorter tunes like After The Ball and Gone But Not Forgotten. The
orchestra and choir added depth to the sounds made by the rock musicians creating a fine blend of sounds.  Singer Ashley Holt contributed vocals as required. I was developing a headache by the end of the first half on the first night and this affected my enjoyment somewhat, thank goodness I was fine for the second night and able to take more of it in.

Highlights for me included a beautiful choral version of Morning Has Broken (arranged for David Croft's memorial service), the medley of Help and Eleanor Rigby arranged in the style of Saint Saens and Prokofiev respectively (the former with a plaintive vocal from Ashley Holt which adds another dimension to the song), Catherine Howard from The Six Wives of Henry VIII and the Journey and Arthur excerpts.

The music was punctuated with introductions and explanations from Rick, at least one of which I hadn't heard or read before. Not that I mind the same stories, it's all in the timing and he's a funny guy and good story teller.

Both evenings were rounded off by a version of the Yes song Starship Trooper, culminating in Wurm. Of course Starship Trooper looms large in the legend of this blog. (It's where I got its title from.)

Now I am looking forward to the opportunity to see a full production of Journey To The Centre of The Earth next year.

Huge thanks to Phil for organising all the tickets and logistics as well as getting a programme signed for me at the Wakeman with Wakeman with Wakeman and Wakeman event in Gloucester on the Saturday.

Full set of unedited photos from both nights on flickr here.


  1. Sounds like a fun gig - Only ever seen Rick Wakeman with Yes, and that was way back in 2005 at the MEN Arena.

    1. I'd be likely to jump at the chance to see a Classic Line-Up Yes, but I think I'm doomed to have just missed most classic reunions of bands I'm now listening to. Never mind. I'll live and there's plenty of newer bands to entertain me too.

      It was indeed fun. In fact the couple of days I was away was quite the adventure. I think more gigs should have adventures attached. (Though not too many as I am still getting over this one! Haha!)

  2. great memories of a brilliant gig - thanks for the blog

    1. You're welcome. It was really was quite the experience. Thanks for reading.

  3. just found this by searching for reviews of the concerts,I had to laugh when reading about Phil bumping into a couple from the Blackfriars gig,and you being there of your own free will, that was myself and girlfriend Karen.It was a great weekend,not as adventurous as yours thankfully.You never know may bump into you both again next year .


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