Rick Wakeman Newcastle City Hall 18th Sep 1980
Rick Wakeman rejoined Yes in 1977, but left a few years later and in 1980 he was again on tour as a solo act, accompanied by his band.
I recall going to see the film “White Rock” in 1977. It was a documentary film about the 1976 Winter Olympics held in Innsbruck, Austria, and the soundtrack was by Rick Wakeman. It wasn’t the most enjoyable film…all I can remember is lots of footage of bobsleds speeding through ice and snow…..
Rick was back at the City Hall again in 1980. This time the tour programme featured a spoof newspaper which proclaims: “Yes The Rick Wakeman Show is on the road. Months of government pressure both in England and abroad, high level summit meetings with the President in the White House and even a telephone call from Her Majesty the Queen, failed to stop Rick Wakeman taking his bunch of suicidal perverts around the world to seriously upset music lovers”. 🙂
Headlines in the programme included “Police Called to riot in Rick Wakeman show” and “Road Manager in Sex Scandal”. The band was Tony Fernanez (previous job ice cream salesman, drums), Ashley Holt (nickname Fatty, vocals), Tim Stone (previous job tester in a nose stretching factory, guitar) and Steve Barnacle (nickname Bog head, bass). As you might have gathered, as well as being a progrock giant, Rick also had a sense of humour and his concerts reflected this being celebrations of prog pomposity alongside some very silly stories and jokes from the band leader himself. A Rick Wakeman concert was thus a mix of fun and great music, which was also sometimes just a little too long and thus often frustrating.
Setlist (something like): Arthur; Katherine Howard; No Earthly Connection; Anne Boleyn; Sea Horses; Geraldine O’Brien; Catherine Parr; The Spider; Merlin the Magician; Journey to the Centre of the Earth; Swan Lager
Encore: White Rock
Archive for the ‘Rick Wakeman’ Category
Rick Wakeman Newcastle City Hall 18th Sep 1980
Rick Wakeman Newcastle City Hall 4th May 1976
Rick Wakeman left Yes in 1974 to follow a solo career. He had already produced his first three solo albums “Piano Vibrations” (1971), “The Six Wives of Henry VIII” (1973) and “Journey to the Centre of the Earth” (1974) while he was still a member of Yes. On leaving Yes he continued to record epic prog / orchestral pieces, releasing “The Myths and Legends of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table” in 1975. Rick was also building a reputation for spectacular concerts. In fact “Journey to the Centre of the Earth” was recorded at the Royal Festival Hall, London with full orchestra and choir and topped the UK album charts, becoming a multi-million dollar seller within weeks. In 1975 Wakeman then went on to perform “The Myths and Legends of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table” on ice at Wembley Empire Pool. He the recorded the soundtrack for the Ken Russell film “Lisztomania” which starred Roger Daltrey as Franz Liszt, and also featured Paul Nicholas, Ringo Starr and, briefly, Wakeman himself as the god Thor. I remember going to see the movie at my local cinema at the time. It was crazy, mad piece telling the story of Liszt as the first, flamboyant, pop star, and was very much of its time.
In 1976 Rick Wakeman released the album “No Earthly Connection” and went out of a full UK tour to promote it. The album and the tour featured “Rick Wakeman and the English Rock Ensemble”. The album packaging included “a piece of silver foil which you were supposed to roll up and stand over the centre of the front or back cover. If you then looked into it you would see the distorted pictures of Rick brought back into proportion. I think there might have been a tiny graphic indicating this on the corner of the inner sleeve.” (from Recollection site). According to my programme from the concert the English Rock ensemble were vocalist Ashley Holt (aka Poldo), Roger Newell (bass and vocals; aka Budgie), John Dunsterville (guitars and vocals; aka Dusty), Tony Fernandez (drums and percussion; aka Woppo), Martin Shields (brass and vocals; aka Fartin’ Martin 🙂 ….typical Rick Wakeman humour ), and Reg Brooks (brass and vocals; aka Steptoe).
Thanks to Mitch for the photo which he took at this concert, and which shows Rick Wakeman resplendent in his cape (this was the ’70s). The tour programme was a spoof football programme, with a tankard on the cover, illustrating Wakeman’s extra-mural interests of the time. It tells me that “tonight’s programme will be taken form some of the following pieces: Catherine Parr, The Spaceman, The Battle, Lancelot & The Black Night, The Journey, The Recollection, Catherine Howard, Arthur, Listz’s Hungarian Rhapsody No. 13, The Forest, Merlin the Magician, Anne Boleyn, The Warning, The Prisoner, The Realisation. Aaah, the joys of the ’70s, and progrock excess 🙂
Rick Wakeman ‘Journey to the Centre of the Earth’ Newcastle City Hall 24th April 2014
This was the 40th Anniversary Tour for Rick Wakeman’s ‘Journey to the Centre of the Earth’. Rick is taking his famous story telling piece on the road again. A very brave move, as it involves putting together, and touring with a band, full orchestra and choir. The show featured the Irion Symphony Orchestra accompanied by The English Chamber Choir and a rock band giving a live presentation of this classical-rock work. Last night at Newcastle City Hall was the first night of the UK tour, and Laura and I went along. The concert was in two parts, the first with Rick alone on stage telling some stories about his career; and the people who influenced him. He talked about Cat Stevens, and played a piano instrumental of “Morning Has Broken”, which he played on a session musician. He then treated us to a rendition of “Life on Mars” with Hayley Sanderson on vocals (Hayley was one of the two vocalists in the second half of the show), and talked about the time he spent with David Bowie working on “Hunky Dory”, and how David’s advice of being true to yourself has stuck with him throughout his career, and was one of the reasons he persisted with the “Journey” concept when many were against it. He then introduced his old friend Ashley Holt, the second vocalist in the concert. Rick explained that he played with Ashley in the ’60s at Watford Top Rank and they performed one of the songs that they used to sing “Summertime”. Rick closed the first half paying tribute to his father, who took him to see “Peter and the Wolf” when he was 8 years old. It was that performance, and seeing a story in music, which planted the seed of the idea of doing a musical version of Rick’s childhood favourite book “Journey to the Centre of the Earth”. He finished by playing “Eleanor Rigby” in the style of Prokofiev, explaining that the composer was a big influence on his music, coming from his classical training at the Royal College of Music. There was then a short interval.
The second half of the concert relived the original album and tour, with the Orion orchestra (who I saw three weeks ago at the Albert Hall performing in the Jon Lord memorial concert), the English Chamber Choir and a rock band featuring Dave Colquhoun on guitar, Matt Pegg (Dave’s son) on bass, and Tony Ferdandez on drums. Philip Franks narrated the performance from the back of the stage, and Guy Protheroe conducted. Guy has been instrumental in putting together the show, helping recreate the score from an old and damaged copy of the original that was found some time ago. Vocal duties were shared between Hayley Sanderson and Ashley Holt, who were both excellent. I must admit that I am not familiar with the album, and didn’t realise how powerful a piece it is. Both Laura and I really enjoyed the concert, and came away both converts to Rick and his music. The audience loved it and gave the performers several standing ovations. An encore of a small piece from the album’s 1999 follow-up “Return to the Centre of the Earth” closed the evening; the audience were on their feet again, and Rick seemed genuinely moved by the reception that his work received.
‘This is the start of a new journey’, says Rick Wakeman about the show, ‘the original score for the album had been lost for so many years, making any new performances impossible. But after it turned up without warning, we managed to restore it and add previously missing music that was not included in the original performances. It has taken another half decade to develop, but I can’t wait to take Jules Verne’s magnificent story on tour again’.
A great concert and much better than I had anticipated.
Anderson and Wakeman Sage Gateshead 8 November 2010
Will and I went to see Jon Anderson and Rick Wakeman on Monday at the Sage Gateshead. The two former members of Yes have toured before together, however this is the first time that they have come to the North East and hence the first time that Will and I had seen them in this formation. The show was billed as The Project 360 Tour and featured a selection of new songs form their new album The LivingTree (they called this part of the show the “recital”) and many old Yes favourites (the “recycle”!). The show was in two halves with a short internal between. Will and I had wondered on the way through whether the two guys would be accompanied by a band; in fact there was no band. The show was centred around Rick on two keyboards and Jon on acoustic guitar and vocals. We were treated to lots of banter between the two of them, which highlighted their very different personalities; Jon still very much an old hippy, Rick a bloke who would be more at home in the local pub.
The new songs sounded OK, and were very Yes like, but it was the Yes classics that the pretty full house had come to see. These included Yours is No Disgrace, Sweet Dreams, Time and a Word, Roundabout, Starship Trooper, And you and I, Owner of the Lonely Heart; I amsure I will have missed some.
The first thing that I must say is that Jon’s voice is amazing; still as strong as it always was, and that he had no problems at all in reaching any of the notes. The arrangements of the Yes songs took some getting used to for me. I missed hearing a band; but having said that it was still great to hear those wonderful songs sung by Jon again.