I took in three dates on this tour and as usual I waffled my way through some
reviews. My live shots were all rather disappointing but you might like these
Rick Wakeman – Sudbury Quay Theatre – 6 March 2000
The Quay Theatre is a lovely little place converted out of a barn or mill or
something. It only holds 125 people and the tickets prices reflected this but
it didn’t seem to put people off. The first night sold out so quick they sold
a 2nd night and I believe that is close to a sell out too.
Pachebel (Cannon in D major) was an unusual for Rick to start with. We got
what seemed like an intro piece of music but half way through Rick came on and
joined in, in much the same way he did with Dance Of A 1000 Lights.
As usual Rick was flexing his fingers a lot and my mum who I got to chauffeur
me to this gig (her 3rd Rick gig now) seemed convinced Rick is having trouble
with his hands. Rick always seemed to flex before and after fast pieced to me.
It did perhaps seem more obvious tonight though and mum thought a knuckle looked
red. It didn’t effect his performance anyway.
Rick started off talking about the suffering in the world and went on to mention
the children brought to see an aging rocker. This lead to a nice version of
Birdman of Alcatraz. Just like it did on the last tour.
We the got a good story I hadn’t heard before about a concert in Seattle when
the band were drunk and had a disaster of a concert only to get a good review
from a critic that has always hated Rick’s performances.
Rick then played two wives Catherine Howard and Catherine Of Aragon. Both were
very good and but I think they were fairly standard arrangements.
We got a few countdown jokes next followed by Seasons Of Change.
Jane Seymour followed the usual story of how the vicar let them record for
free and then got them to make contributions to the various restoration funds.
The standard intro was followed by Nursery Rhyme Concerto
Merlin the Magician was the usual recent audience participation version with
a member of the audience being collared by Rick to hold the sustain peddle while
Rick moves to the Piano. Tonight she was called Val and I have to say she was
the most amusing/lest confident I have seen. As Rick was explaining how the
peddle worked he kept taking his foot on and off it. Unfortunately Val got the
impression she had to pump the peddle so it was a good job Rick made her practice.
As usual Rick made the most of his props. To get Val on stage Rick had to take
her out through a corridor. He of course made out she was trying to leave the
Set two started with the KGB story from the church tours. This was followed
by Children of Chernobyl. This disappointed me as I was expecting a Piano version.
It was done on the mock Piano but in fact sounded much as the album. I will
now know what to expect tomorrow and enjoy it as I normally do. It is a favourite
of mine anyway.
There was another short Countdown story
Rick decided link the two Journeys next. He choose to match Dance Of 1000 Lights
with the corresponding point of the original. A good idea I thought. We therefore
got Recollection followed by Dance Of A Thousand Lights. Recollection was pretty
much the greatest hits format and Dance was to the backing tape as on the church
tour. It was good to be able to clearly see Rick’s playing this time. I couldn’t
in the churches since the Piano was at a different angle. I am not sure what
happened near the start of Dance but it either jumped or was rearranged. Perhaps
the Radio edit was being used? It was very noticeable to me and threw my listening
whatever the reason.
The next story was another new one to me about a country airs concert which
was advertised with Rock Concert Posters. As Rick looked out to the front he
was horrified to see the front few rows filled with Hell’s Angels. Rick wanted
to make a run for it instead of doing an encore but as he bowed at the front
a Angel grabbed him and said the Angels weren’t happy. Their favourite was Waterfalls
(of Country Airs) and Rick hadn’t played it. Was it going to be the Encore?!
And you and I / Wondrous Stories was much the same as the Greatest Hits set.
We didn’t get No Prelude to a millennium which was apparently being considered
for the tour.
The story of Rick’s mum and a load of old people going to the 1984 London show
expecting to see a Piano show was told next.
This lead Guinevere and Lancelot and the Black Knight. Very interesting. I
haven’t heard Rick play these solo before and there is a point in Black Night
which on the original version answers back to itself. This sounded very odd
to me because Rick only has two hands and therefore can’t do it the same. It
will be interesting to see how I take to it tomorrow and next week in Felixstowe.
At last Rick has cut done the Intro to Eleanor. We only got half the normal
intro and it was combined with the amusing story off the letter to the radio
station where the DJ thought some was 111 but it turned out they were ill. I
think this was told on the church tour and Help and Eleanor Rigby were the same
arrangements. Obviously without Ramon singing Help
The concert ended on Claire de Lune.
Overall I thought the concert was a good mix of stuff from the last tour and
new stuff. I found the emphasis on Arthur and Henry very interesting. I still
wish Rick could push more from other areas of his career but I can understand
his decision. Talking to the tour crew they weren’t expecting any regular fans
at this gig and I would guess it was a slightly different crowd to normal. They
certainly all laughed as though they were hearing all the jokes the first time.
Mind you I still tend to laugh when Rick is telling the Jane Seymour story and
the vicar says "My word, how unexpected". I wonder how many fans of
the church tours go to the regular tours and vice versa.
Rick was wearing his black jacket from the Church tours again. It seems to
have become his favourite after all the colourful ones of previous tours.
I don’t know that I got as excited about this concert as previous ones but
I had had my daughter for 6 hours as she had been ill and 3 hours totally wipes
me out. So attending this concert was pure determination and therefore I was
a bit tense. With luck as on the last tour I will be in better shape tonight
(doubtful the way my body feels now!) .
I waited to get a few things signed by Rick again and he amused me by saying
I was looking well despite the ME. It’s good I can pretend to be normal. He
actually gave someone he was signing for a joke from a previous tour. It was
the story about a sold out performance where the was an obvious whole in the
crowd that was annoying Rick. It turned out that a man’s wife had gone into
labour 3 mins prior to the concert. The man was back by the interval. He later
got something signed so Rick asked if it was a false alarm. He said "I
told her she had got 1/2hr and that was it. She knew I had been looking forward
to this gig for months!". On another tour Rick meet the wife and amazingly
she was feeling a bit guilty about having gone into labour 4 weeks early and
spoiling her husbands concert!
I hope this doesn’t read to bad. I have checked it but I am not functioning
well today so I am sure it is still pretty bad. Psion’s are great. I was writing
most of it on the journey home the rest on my bed while I tried to rest up.
It is amazing how much your perception of a concert can change when your brain
is only 50% dead instead of 90%. I knew a lot of the gig was just going through
me last night but I couldn’t think how I wasn’t "relaxed" enough.
The difference was my brain wasn’t singing along to the music as much.
I was the seat in front of the seat I had last night and I was picking up a
lot more of my surroundings. The concert seemed that much louder and Rick was
making the floor boards squeak as he paced up and down. I could also hear the
sound of the key movements on the keyboard as Rick played.
Tonight’s performance seemed a lot better too. I felt I had heard a few false
notes near the start last night but tonight I felt there might have been 3 all
night. They were certainly spread out too. Rick did flex his fingers a couple
of times but certainly not as much as last night.
As per the last tour that I saw two dates in two nights on I found it interesting
to hear the slight difference in how Rick told the stories.
The audience tonight was different in character too. After every story last
night someone clapped and the whole place followed suit. Tonight no one started
the clapping except on two occasions when only a third of the place joined in.
Rick actually made us wait a little while for the encore tonight. By his quick
I very spent the last two night trying to work out how the chords move on when
Rick is on the Piano. Every time he presses a peddle it seems to change but
the main rig peddle doesn’t seem to be used in the same way.
Rick also changed the setting in the main rig before playing Clair De Lune.
I will have to find out what is going on but I never remember to ask Rick such
(When I got home I phoned up the keyboard player from Praying Mantis’s last
tour for a chat. He has been learning Rick’s techniques etc. As we chatted I
mentioned my little puzzle and he eventually mentioned that keyboard now can
actually play two maybe three sounds depending on the speed of playing or the
pressure applied to the keys. I will have to watch this on the piano at Felixstowe
but this certainly seemed the solution to how Rick does Eleanor Rigby. During
this Rick hits the keys and gets a loud bell sound. There is something called
after touch too but my friend didn’t really have that one worked out yet as
he is still learning to control these patches. IE it is easy to slip into the
Rick plays with his eyes shut. Actually I wanted to join him at times but I
dare not risk it since they may struggle to open again. He even seems to change
keyboards with eyes shut most of the time too. If he does look it must be a
brief glimpse with little lid movements.
He seems to use music for about three songs on the Piano. I wonder if he finds
he looses feeling when his eyes are open. Perhaps he shuts his eyes just to
stop them distracting him. I will have to try it on my Sax.
Mum commented last night that he should have a mirror behind his main rig so
the we can be dazzled by his fingers more. He used to use one when playing with
Yes. And the organist that my mum books for the local organ society all use
one. I wonder if Rick thinks it too dated? I am sure the audience would appreciate
it. Oh while I am remembering mum’s comments she wishes he wouldn’t pace around
so much when talking.
Rick has been playing Nursery Rhyme Concerto for several years now and yet
Rick still has to pull out a list to remind himself of the songs he is playing.
He has no problem playing the piece so if Rick does actually reads the list
it shows the strange ways our brains work.
Dance of a thousand lights did have a jump again near the start so it must
be a truncated version.
I understood a lot better tonight what was going on in Lancelot tonight too.
Last night I felt the sounds could have been a little different as it sounded
a bit like the Yes stuff. Tonight I thought it sounded good.
As I say tonight was far more enjoyable for me. I am sure it was only because
of I was less tired. Felixstowe is after my children again. I wonder if anything
in the set will have changed by then and if I can think of anything more to
bore you with. I can’t imagine so. Rick does apparently swap stories or songs
though in order to keep himself on his toes when touring.
The Spa Pavilion is 900+ seater theatre that has recently been renovated.
I have to say they have done a nice job too. I know for a fact I was the first
to buy a ticket for this gig as it had been on the web site a good week before
I could finally make a purchase on 22 Feb and even then it was me telling
the booking office they had the gig. With such a late addition I was very worried that sales would be
poor. I am pleased to say however that the place was a good 2/3 full. Impressive
for 3-4 weeks. Hopefully this was above break-even it would certainly have
grossed more than the two Sudbury dates I did.
Despite being extremely tired from my children again I really managed to
enjoy this gig. Perhaps it was the familiarity that meant I had more brainpower
let for enjoyment but I was very pleasantly surprised to find this. I also
spoke with several of the audience during the interview and afterwards and
they all said they really enjoyed it. Even the chap next to me who hadn’t
seen Rick since 1976 or so and I therefore thought might stand more change
of being disappointed.
I have to say I found it really odd watching Rick in such a big theatre.
I spent the first two songs trying to remember when the last time I had seem
him in such a big place had been. It actually hadn’t been as long as my memory
suggested as I finally remembered it was Norwich Theatre Royal in November
97. It just seemed longer because I have seen so many dates on so many church
The thing that struck me most (apart having a safety curtain come down in
the interval. It’s years since I have seen one of those!) was the lighting.
They didn’t really using any at the Quay Theatre. I only really recall a spotlight
and maybe a couple of colour changes. Tonight was a lot better. There was
a nice light shining down on Rick as he played the Eleanor Rigby keyboard
on Rick’s right. There was also some floor lighting as well as the regular
whole Stage colouring.
The floor lighting was actually handy for seeing what Rick was doing occasionally.
When it was on and he was playing the Eleanor keyboard you could see a shadow
on the walls of his hands moving. Not clearly but you could see the speed
Tonight’s stooge was taken from the row in front of me. 2nd Person in again
so it’s not only woman on the isles that are prime targets for being a victim
of Rick. Stephanie got the hang of what to do very quickly. I was a bit worried
she wouldn’t go up at the right moment though and so clearly was the person
next to me as he tapped her to remind her. To be fair she was looking after
a disadvantaged child. I wonder weather Rick realised earlier in the set she
had had to take him out of the theatre. At the time I felt he hadn’t spotted
the interruption. During the interval she was talking to a friend about the
experience and me being nosey I butted in and asked if she felt she had looked
worried as Rick past her. She said she hadn’t as she knew what was going to
happen. She had been at Bury St Edmunds (I wrote Norwich but I am sure that
is wrong) on the church tour. She had even stayed behind and met Rick afterwards.
Curiously though she had forgotten the bit where Rick takes his time moving
reads a paper and has a cup of tea. She said she thought about asking for
one for herself, which would have been amusing.
I don’t know what the story was with Dance Of A 1000 lights as Sudbury because
tonight I didn’t notice any jumps in the sound. As far as my ears were concerned
it could have been the original album version. It may well have been different
still but I didn’t notice any jumps in what I was expecting to hear next like
It was again interesting to see how the Audience reacted during the story
telling. Generally the audience seemed to fed off itself so there was a real
canned laughter effect to each little amusing point in the story about being
drunk in Seattle. There were even people clapping some of the sub-jokes. Yet
after some of the stories finished and before the music there was no clapping
just like at the 2nd night of Sudbury. I must say I was more comfortable with
it this way but I wonder what happens in other parts of the country.
Rick actually changed things tonight. Instead of the 2nd batch of Countdown
Stories we got the Jon Anderson wanting a room with a view story from
a previous tour instead.
Now that I knew what to watch for I felt understood how Rick was generating
all the music himself. The concept of having the keys doing two different
sounds depending on touch or speed seemed to tie up what Rick was doing with
the sounds. That is a relief it was really bugging me I didn’t understand
what was going on.
With the Spa being so much bigger than Sudbury it seemed the speakers lost
their clarity. The man next to me commented he couldn’t hear the detail he
wanted to and I noticed during Jane Seymour the stereo effects didn’t seem
to happen. Eleanor Rigby wasn’t as loud as usual either. That one normally
makes a big impact but they forgot to turn up the volume for about 10 seconds
after Help. And even then they did it still seemed relatively quiet. Interestingly
I did notice a lot of Stereo effect on You and I. Rick’s left hand pattern
seemed to come from the left and the Right was probably on both.
I hope I am wrong but the tour seemed to be taking it’s toll on Rick. I was
quite shocked just now when I saw on the Web site it is less than half way
through. I hope Rick was just getting a cold or something. It is quiet normal
for him to look relieved once he got to the end of Merlin and perhaps another
song but tonight he seemed to be relieved a lot more often. I think I only
noticed one place where I wasn’t sure if Rick had made a mistake. And this
one was curiously more a phrase in You and I that seemed half completed and
then done again. I don’t think I spotted any missed notes.
I decided to ask my chauffeur for the night (a friend’s dad. Now that is
a weird concept to me. A friend’s dad not only liking music but also liking
music I like! My dad has no interest in music as all.) how Rick looked physically.
He and has dad (who was drummer at the Spa for many years) commented about
the shaking hands again. That and he had put on weight again. They also commented
without prompting that Rick definitely seemed tired. The friend’s granddad
was very impressed at the speed Rick plays a especially commenting about Rick’s
ability to play the same speed with both hands.
As some one else mention Rick is now talking about doing a performance of
Arthur with Orchestra in Wales in September. I look forward to it. I hope
Praying Mantis don’t go to Japan then or I will be really torn between my
to favourite live artists.