Rick Wakeman – Prayers

I was initially not to sure about buying this disc but I am glad I did it
contains some great songs. "Hymn Of Hope" is has had its arrangement
added to and now makes the Softsword version seems under worked. “I can hear
you” is one of my all time favourite tracks it is an absolute Gem. The album
contains readings by various people and I have to admit that I would normally
program them out. I do find the "Devotion" track very thought provoking.
A person purely interested in the songs should get the reworked versions on
Can you Hear me? But I would recommend this to completists and the moog solo
on “I can hear you” is at it full splendour on this.

Rick Wakeman – The Classical Connection

For years I struggled to appreciate Rick’s quieter piano albums. This was
my breakthrough album. This album is great. Rick’s great piano playing (electric
I think) goes without saying but what I really love is David Paton’s bass work.
I am normally deaf to bass work so when it hits me like this it is fantastic.
This is the Best introduction to Rick’s work in my opinion.

Rick Wakeman – Phantom Power

Phantom Power is a soundtrack Album but not in the usual style. The album consist
of full blown songs and it is as if the film was added to the soundtrack instead
of vice Versa. In fact the recent video for Queen’s "Heavens for everyone"
would be a good example of the way the film is presented.

Phantom Power – The film

My first impression on watching the film was that although the soundtrack fits
the film on a minute by minute basis I was not quite so sure about a scene to
scene basis. The instrumental passages certainly follow the film. My favourite
example is a piece where the Phantom is playing an Organ and the music is shown
as being Don Juan Triumphant. Rick starts this section on an Organ sound and
when the phantom stops he switches to synths. When the Phantom continues again
he adds back the Organ.

In general it is the songs which made me wonder most about weather Rick was
doing and album or a soundtrack. But even these have bits that directly tie
to the film. For instance in "Heat of the Moment" there is an organ
solo which again starts as the phantom plays organ but this time it carries
on when the phantoms stops. A few seconds later the phantom gets angry and hits
the organ and this is reflected by the song.

After I had watched 30 minutes of the video I had got used to the presentation
and enjoyed the film and really enjoyed the music. After viewing the film once
I rewound it and watched it again. I felt like I had been to a concert and did
not want it to end. I also made a soundtrack copy to cassette so that I could
listen to the music properly.

Rick wrote the soundtrack in a style that I found instantly appealing. I am
normally very slow at making my mind up as to weather I like a piece of music
so I guess other people might find it a bit shallow.

I decided I would let a friend watch the film and see what he thought. If I
like something Rick does he usually dislikes it and Vice Versa. I prefer the
full band presentations he likes the ambient and piano styles. As I expected
he thought the film a bit odd and did not get on with it. I also tried my OAP
parents with the film and they did not complete the film since the music was
"too modern". Both commented it was confusing having songs sung at
the same time as words were displayed in the film.

Phantom Power – The Album
Over the years I enjoyed the music so much that I wanted a copy on CD. Unfortunately
I had difficulty finding a copy and bought the last one Yes Music Circle had
as soon as I decided to give the fanzine a look. It has greatly annoyed me that
President have not seen fit to re-release this album (It is out again now!).
I think they have re-released every other album Rick put out on Ambient with
the exception of Black Knights at the court of Ferdinand IV. Another excellent
album despite the Italian vocals.

Now that I have a copy of the CD I decided to compare it with the film and
see what had and had not been used.

Phantom Power – Live
The only time I have heard anything from Phantom played live was on the Classical
Connection II tour. I saw this at Chatam on 24/11/91. Rick played a Phantom
medley consisted of at least Phantom Power, Heaven, You Can’t Buy My Love and
One Night Of Love. Although I am normally deaf to bass work I have to say I
really enjoyed the bass playing of Alan Thompson on this night.

Rick Wakeman – Cost of Living

I own nearly all of Rick albums on CD and this is the only one I find tortuous
to listen to (well maybe Rhapsodies as well). Rick completely missed my wave
length on this. Every other track is an awful vocal one. The gentler tracks
are more listenable but what was he doing on Bedtime Stories? The one redeeming
feature of the album is "Gone But Not Forgotten". Fortunately I prefer
the recorded version on "Greatest Hits". I suspect a lot of people
will like "Elegy" though.

Rick Wakeman – Rock n Roll Prophet Plus

This is a rather quirky Wakeman with 3 tracks sung by Rick himself. At times
all I can hear is the quirky style but at other times I really enjoy this album.
Normally it is the latter. The Plus tracks, seems to belong on 2000AD rather
than Prophet, even though Rick has attempted to keep to the style of the album.
I think he fails because of the use of modern instruments.

Rick Wakeman – An Evening With Rick Wakeman Tour 2000

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
pics.

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
building etc.

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
next

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.

Rick Wakeman – Sudbury Quay Theatre – 7 March 2000

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
standards anyway.

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
things

(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
wrong sound.)

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.

Rick Wakeman – Spa Pavilion Felixstowe – 16 March
2000

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
tours.

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
of movement.

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
at Sudbury.

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.

Band Reviews from 1999

I have been keeping this list of gigs I have attended and often written reviews
for friends. It might interest someone so I have decided to put it online. I
have tried to go to a lot of gigs in recent times as that is the only enjoyment
worth aggravating my ME
for but I am afraid it still affects the reviews.

Bob Catley And Emerald Rain – Midway Park Hotel Castleton
– 22 January 1999

The Function Room of this Hotel was perhaps 30m by 50m with the stage on the
short length and a bar up the other end. I call it a stage but it was a large
riser only about 20cm high. The room was full of tables which worried the band
and audience alike. It was almost like being at a wedding reception some people
thought. Luckily the place filled up nicely and when emerald rain took to the
stage at 9:50 people went and stood at the front forcing anyone else that
wanted to stand too. Emerald rain played about 45 Minutes. I thought they were
OK but someone on my table didn’t like the singer’s voice. I must confess I
didn’t register it as being that bad.

I knew their last number from sampler discs on two magazines I take and
although I was not that struck by the overall discs Emerald rain’s track was
one I liked.

Just after 11pm Bob hit the stage and performed a cracking show. I think the
set was as the Live at the Gods CD and I would recommend it to anyone based on
tonight’s show. I personally thought the songs on "The Tower" great
but I didn’t like the production or something. Live I had none of these
troubles. Bob’s band was Emerald rain (The vocalist now doing backing vocals
and occasional acoustic guitar) plus Hard Rain’s Paul Hodgeson on Keyboards.
The rapport on stage was great with everyone messing about and having fun. The
set being 75mins was a little to short but it was a good night out.

Blues Band – Ipswich Corn Exchange – 20 February 99

An Excellent gig. Much better than Last time since we got an Acoustic Set in
support and then an Electric song. There was a surprising about of change in
the set too. It is good too see how much fun the band have. And of course no
Blues Band concert is complete without Paul getting the audience to "make
love" as part of the sing along

Roy Wood – Norwich Theatre Royal – 8th March 1999

There is not a lot of point me writing this review as it is much the same as
I have been writing since I first saw the Woody Big Band in 1992-3. I Went to
Norwich expecting to hear Beautiful Daughter which has been added to the set
recently. I thought great at least the set has changed. But the further we got
into the set the more doubtful it was it was going to appear until blow me over
he came back for the Encore of "I wish it could be Xmas". This is so
very annoying. Is he trying to kill of the only gig base he has? I really don’t
understand Roy. The Highlight of the set for me was Roy Revenge the
instrumental but that is only because it is to newest thing. The
"new" tracks *are* still coming out on the Live album eventually. A
feature I don’t recall before was a Cup of Tea being brought out. He blew his
nose again. Is this part of the act now? I don’t think he had any cold this
time.

The army uniforms aren’t as nice as the old stage cloths but I guess not as
bad a I feared.

I will probably stick up some phone on my web space at the weekend.

The set with Encore probably only just exceeds 70 mins. Of course I enjoyed
what I got I just wish it had changed and was longer

Uriah Heep – The Waterfront Norwich – 10 March 1999

This is the second time I have seen Heep and the second time on this tour. This
was a far superior concert to the one at the Forum in London last year. The
Venue is fairly small. I guess about 15m deep and 50m wide. I suspect it could
hold about 600-700 people and last night was probably 2/3’s full. Hopefully
enough to bring Heep back again. The Night started with Deadline as a support
act. They were OK but nothing special. Praying Mantis would have been a lot
better :-).

The stage area was raised a couple of foot and was also thin. So I had
problems seeing Mick Box clearly but then I was stood 5m back on the right
side. The Mix here was so much better. The forum had been appalling (from where
I was stood). Obviously being on the Bass side of stage that was a bit up on
the mix but it was still a good round sound. The set was also significantly
lengthen this time. I assume the extra tracks coming from Sea Of Love and Sonic
Origami. I did not register any "new" old tracks (like Sunrise which
I had not heard before the Forum) to me. Looking back at the set list from the
Forum we did get more Classic tracks. And Look At Yourself was expanded from
stuff I have seen on previous tours.

The band were all in good humour as usual and I really enjoyed the night. I
would really like to go to the forum on Saturday and see them again but since
this was a standing venue I will never be recovered in time.

Porcupine Tree – Colchester Arts Centre – 8 April 1999

This was a very unusual gig for me. That last time I saw a band without
knowing most of the Material that was played was Probably a Santana or Jethro
Tull one years ago. (And that was only because they caught me out with unusual
tracks). Actually I guess it was Squeeze last year but even with them I knew a
fair bit. Porcupine Tree I have only heard 3 tracks by 3 times. There was a
support act that kept talking about a Radio two session they had done but they
never named themselves. They had a Sax Keyboards and Guitar and they were OK
until the singer started. The music completely lacked paces and seemed to be
about Atmospherics. They did five tracks (I think) and that was more than
enough :-).

Porcupine Tree came on stage around 9.20 and did a 1hr 35-40 set. I am not
sure what I made of it really. After an hour it was completely going over my
head (and I was desparately looking for somewhere to sit! I eventually find the
back of a chair to lean on. But it didn’t help I had started switching off) .
It seemed very drug induced laid back music with occasional peaks of
excitement. I have to say it reminding me of what the Velvet Underground must
have been like in the early days. The Art centre is a converted standard UK
size church and I guess it holds in the region of 300-400 and judging by the
spaces between the audience was half full. It was a nice place but obviously
small and friendly. It did not stop the band using lights effectively and
having slides and projections of the back of the stage. The music was sort of
OK but I was not convinced I would like it enough to buy a CD on the night. I
found it interesting the the Guitarist/Singer is the guy that has been
co-writing with Fish on his last two solo albums.

Lyadrive (With Groundhogs and Blackfoot Sue) – 30
April 1999

I thoroughly enjoyed Lyadrive who were third on the bill. I stayed for a bit
of Blackfoot Sue but since I did not know their stuff my adrenaline stopped
pumping and I died so I went home without seeing Groundhogs (Except in
Soundcheck)

ELO Part II with the London Philharmonic Orchestra 28
May 99

We arrived for the concert about 15 minutes late after making a bad decided
to cross central London on the inner ring road. Louis Clarke and the London
Philharmonic had obviously started the gig at 7.30 on the dot and were half way
through a set of Beatles songs. They were OK but nothing special. I think the
use of a drummer makes it really cheap and tacky.

The Royal Albert Hall is of course a lovely round arena with about 4 tears
of seating in the circles. All but the top layer seemed to be full. My position
was perfect. 4th from the centre on the front row. I could not
believe it the day I booked it and I couldn’t believe it on the night. It must
have been because I was tipped off about the gig on the ELO list.

I almost felt too close to the band to start with. As I have noticed at ELO
gigs before the sound isn’t that loud and it was only a tiny speaker the band
were playing through during there lone part of the set. I was trying to hear
Mik’s violin in the mix to hear was he was playing and obviously starring just
a little too hard as Mik noticed and seemed to acknowledge my interest in his playing.
I noticed several times during the night he made eye contact when I was
watching him. It was interesting to be watched watching a band :-).

At first I got the impression the band were a little stiff and going through
the motions a little. There was the occasional little bit of messing about but
it seemed slightly forced. I guess after 1hrs the Orchestra returned and it was
interesting to see how Bev Bevan had to adjust to playing while watching Louis
Clark. It also eventually occurred to me that the Double Bass section probably
couldn’t see Louis as the drum riser was in the way. It’s didn’t seem to cause
any trouble though and I thought it was an excellent all round show. I love
Kelly’s Vocals and thought Eric Troyer’s voice was good to. I wasn’t so sure
about Hux the new guy but I like his touches on guitar during the night.

The Band eventually did seem to get into it more and the crowd and
definitely me seemed to think Concerto for the Rainy day/Mr Blue Sky was the
best bit of the night. It was nice to hear songs like Eldorado being done along
with the hits. I was slightly disappoint the 10538 Overture was done by the
band alone as that one obviously used a lot of strings on the original. Perhaps
with so many violins in the orchestra would have raised it’s pitch too much.
There was a violin player on the front of the left seemed to be having a good
night when not playing. You don’t really expect it from Orchestra members so it
was good to see.

It was an excellent night and well worth going.

Rick Wakeman – Norwich and Bury St Edmunds Cathedrals –
10-11 June 99

I took in two nights of this tour and I am glad I did as my health the first
night left me feeling rather unsure of the night. Taking in the 2nd
night (and not have my children visit prior to the concert!) meant I was able
to appreciate the concert for the excellent night it was. Also the 2nd
half started differently on the 2nd night.

The opening number was Birdman of Alcatraz which showed signs of a promising
sets of different numbers to the last tour.

Next up Ramon Remedios joined Rick for Await the Hour from the Gospels. He
came out speaking another Language until Rick Pointed out he was from
Liverpool. Rick also pointed out there had been a mistake on the poster and
Ramon was now Rambo. The first night there were a few Jokes about Ramon going
outside to steal some hub caps etc but not the 2nd night. It is
interesting to see how the two nights differed and although Rick and Ramon
obviously follow a certain routine, they are still human and therefore adlib a
bit.

Nursery Rhyme Concerto was next and it was back to the familiar intro for
this. The audience that have heard it before still seem to find it amusing
though.

I was then slightly disappointed by Rick doing Dance of a 1000 lights while
Ramon went and conducted the Orchestra and Choir out in the car park ie they
played a backing tape. I guess Rick needed to promote Return at the concerts
but from a fan point of view I think it would have been nice to see what he
could come up with in the way of a solo arrangement. Rick is so good at doing
this I am sure he could have figured something out.

Ramon returned and we got A Wish and Welcome a star with the story of Rick’s
first performance of the Gospels and the choir never having heard the piece in
full and Robert Powell having hurt and leg and being on Morphine. Rick
therefore had to nod at appropriate moments in the performance and when it
started going well he accidentally nodded to say "it’s going well isn’t
it" and they all came in wrong.

The penultimate song of the first half was Merlin the Magician complete with
change of Keyboard for the last crazy patch. For this he choose someone from
the audience to come up and hold his sustain peddle. I think he choose the
people from the same position each night but I won’t say where 🙂

The final song of the set was Nessun Dorma which was used in the World Cup
some years back. This was at Ramon’s request and when Rick started to play he
started with "Nellie the Elephant" because he had misread Ramon’s
letter.

Set 2 at Norwich started with Rick mentioning he had helped David Bowie
arrange Hunky Dory. However at Bury St Edmunds Rick came back on from the back
of the Cathedral in his KGB uniform and gave a long story about how he got it
out of Russia. I don’t know why it didn’t happen the first night and I forgot
to ask Rick. It was a nice bonus for me to get something extra the 2nd
night though. He then played Space Oddity and Life On Mars. He must be getting
used to them now as he was not relying so much on the piece of music or chord
sequence he has pulled out on previous tours. Again that is something has
baffled me in the past and I wished I had asked about it.

Next up was Morning Has Broken with the usual intro. It was nice to see this
with a vocal from Ramon.

Jane Seymour was again the highlight of both shows for me. I have played the
original on Six Wives of Henry VIII and it was OK but to hear it all done by
just Rick in a Church/Cathedral with great Organ sounds is really something
special. I have often wondered why it doesn’t close a set. Perhaps it is
because Rick doesn’t feel church audiences no his own tunes as well as the
others he plays.

Ramon wanted to do the Barber of Siville but again Rick misread Ramon’s
letter and had written a new piece called Barber of Wigan which was very funny
but perhaps a little long for something that was not to me musically that
great. It was a very good parody though and Ramon was very good in it. It was
also interesting to see Rick smiling so much. I haven’t noticed Rick’s grin
before. I took a roll of film the 2nd night so I might have some
decent shots when I get round to adding them to my page.

Then we moved into the area I was most unsure of, the last 5 songs. They
were Help and Fool On The Hill with Ramon and then Eleanor Rigby as the set
closer. Then for an encore The Hymn (from 1984) and The Day Thou Gavest Lord
Has Ended both with Ramon. The first night I was absolutely shattered before I
had even got to the gig and I was incredibly disappointed that Help was still
done in the slow Tribute style. I did notice that Ramon was making the words
seem very meaningful but 4 slow songs out of 5 seemed a very bad way to end the
set and I then went home with the impression the whole night had been slow
paced. The 2nd night however I knew what to expect and was dreading
Help and Fool on a Hill but to my amazement I found I really enjoyed them and I
got the feeling a lot better. I am interested to see how others viewed the
choice of these five songs as the ending. I was also surprised my memory of the
previous night had been so wrong with regards the pace of the concert and
everything. I think Ramon’s voice has cracked a bit during A Wish and Welcome A
Star so I suspect the first night was the better performance but I definitely
preferred the 2nd night and as I said earlier was so pleased I had
opportunity to take in two shows on the trot. If you had the chance to go and
didn’t bother I think it was a shame. It was also very nice to meet up with
Chris Smith after the Bury Show. It is always nice to meet people you have
spoken to on the net 🙂

Deep Purple and Friends – Royal
Albert Hall – 26 September 1999

I was not in the best state of health for this concert and I was excepting an
interesting night but nothing to special. My memories of the original Concerto
for Group and Orchestra were that it was OK but didn’t seem to integrate the
band and orchestra to well. I therefore have the CD but don’t play it much.
(Mind you my collection is so big now that is true of most discs!)

It is with great delight that through out the evening I was totally bowled
over by how much I enjoyed things. Especially the Concerto.

Let’s start at the beginning though. First on were the London Symphony Orchestra
to play us Four Scottish Dances by the original Group and Concerto conductor
Malcolm Arnold. These were good warm up pieces. I am not a great fan of
classical music a home but when I can see a whole orchestra playing it is
fascinating to hear how the different sections work.

Jon Lord was then introduced to a standing ovation (Some thing every Purple
member got as they came and did their turns). Jon performed two pieces from his
current solo album. I wasn’t sure about the start of Pictured Within which was
the first track but by the end I was starting to appreciate it. The thing that
put me off was Miller Anderson (Who is he?) was the vocalist and he sang the
words "Pictured Within" and Sam Brown from the backing vocal position
echoed it and that was it for about 4 minutes (or so it seemed.) I was baffled.

Then Sam Brown came down to the front and sang Wait A While. I sort of like
her breathy singing style but am not quite sure if it annoys me at the same
time. I enjoyed the song which was much more standard in format.

I was then surprised that Ronnie James Dio appeared and sang two pieces from
the Butterfly Ball. Again a side project I hadn’t heard before. The piece
seemed a little cartoon like at times but I thought Ronnie really sang well
especially the section that was a little like Fly to the Rainbow in beauty. I
normally like Ronnie in the studio but not live so I was pleased he managed to
change my opinion.

Ian Gillan’s turn next and I was extremely pleased to hear Via Miami from
the excellent Gillan/Glover album Accidentally On Purpose. This was followed by
"That’s Why God Is Singing The Blues" from his last solo album. There
had been a brass section on for several numbers by now. The orchestra had also
been playing on some songs and it was good to see Paul Mann the conductor
generally enjoying the music when he had no part in the song. Oh I was also
pleased to see Gillan’s guitarist Steve Morris on stage for the Gillan tracks.
He unfortunately had problems with his Acoustic guitar but Gillan took it well
and tried using his mic to get the sound out

Now it was The Steve Morse Band’s turn. Steve had played earlier in the
night but this was his section. He first played Night Meets Light which has
apparently been used on the Radio for years and is the song that got Gillan to
give him a call when Blackmore left. Then we got a song called Take It Off The
Top. This one I did know. I had no idea it was by Morse though. It is the music
Tommy Vance uses to introduce the VH-1 Rock show in the UK. Apparently his
radio shows too. You live and learn. Excellent stuff both tracks.

Finally to round of the set it was Ian Paice’s turn and he did a jazz/big
and version of Wring That Neck. Again very interesting to see and hear.

I would have gone home very happy having seen what I had so far but after
the interval it was the Concerto. This was truly excellent. I loved every
minute of it. Steve Morse did the Blackmore role very well and managed to
restrain his usual tendency to throw in too many fast runs. He also visibly enjoyed
the orchestra sections which was good to see. I love see how band members
interact with each on stage.

Despite repeated requests to keep quiet during the classics pieces I was
extremely embarrassed to be part of a crowd that clapped after a Steve Morse
solo in the 1st movement. I suppose the only consolation was that the Clarinet
play also got applause after his solo. It also took some doing to get the crowd
to shut up long enough to start the 2nd movement. Apparently things were worse
the first night but there were far too many Jerks in the audience that just
couldn’t resist being a lone voice in the crowd and shouting out. I was pleased
when the crowd got to shushing the prat’s. Things from then on were very good
so I hope it is the 2nd night that is used for the video release (supposedly in
Jan 2000)

To close the set were got four purple tracks with the occasional orchestra
part and the backing singers and brass section to. Great stuff. The highlight
for me being Sometimes I Feel Like Screaming. A song I hope remains in the set
for years. I am still not sure about Watching The Sky though.

For the Encore it was everyone back for Smoke On The Water. It seemed very
odd seeing Dio on stage with Gillan. I guess Dio’s problem was with Ozzy in
Sabbath but it felt strange all the same.

So a truly great night I am so glad I decided to go. If I hadn’t seen the
Praying Mantis reunion this year I suspect this would have been my best gig if
the year. I just hope Rick Wakeman can get to fill his dream of performing with
an orchestra and all the singers on his last album at Wembley in January.
Seeing bands play with Orchestra makes a wonderful nights entertainment.

Amazing Blondel/Annie Haslam/Caravan – 1 October 1999

This was a dreadful venue for me as it was standing. Also I was here to see
Annie Haslam so the bands were on out of order. IMO.

First up were Amazing Blondel it seems a trio all fairly old and doing an
acoustic set. They have one chap playing a recorder and other all sorted
oddities from I guess medieval days. It was sort of interesting but very samey
with the guitar strumming and beat. I am sure I have them on a compilation CD
and I suspect they played that track tonight. Interesting idea but very average
to me.

Next up was Annie Haslam with fellow Renaissance member Michael Dunford and
ex Mike Oldfield/Fish/Camel man Mickey Simmons. He is apparently on the newly
recorded Renaissance album of which we got a preview of one song. It seems to
be just a Piano and Annie song although it was co-written with Dunford

Carpet Of The Sun which was a slightly sloppy start from Annie as she
dropped earring and missed some lines in the song. She was very chirpy all
night though and amused when she asked if the English crowd was better than
Americans ones and got a typical subdued English response. It has to be said
because the crowd weren’t sure what reaction she was after

I Think Of You Think Of Me was next

Then Midas Man. A favourite of Annie’s apparently but it used midi files.
The Oh-Oh-Oh parts from Annie seemed at too loud and correct for the distance
Annie was singing them so I have my doubts as to weather they were sung live or
not.

Seashell eyes was next. Since it was keyboards and strummed guitar it
sounded very much as per the Brazilian skies live album. And in general like
Annie’s recent album’s.

I was surprise how little Dunford took the spotlight. There were no real
guitar solos etc. And a person I was quizzing to see if Caravan were worth
staying for turned out to be like me and there for Annie. He was very
disappointed by the set and I can take his point if he hadn’t heard the low
musician set up of Annie’s recent appearances.

Next up was Blessing In Disguise. It was interesting how Northern Annie
still sounds but she did decided she had said Renaissance the American way
rather than the English. She seemed able to put on a stronger Northern accent
at will. I really liked this track. Apparently it is about her recovery from
breast cancer.

I was then surprised at the choice of Moonlight Shadow. But given it Mickey
was probably with Oldfield at the time it was recorded I guess it was no big
surprise. And of course it is a good song.

Brazilian skies followed with it’s Song For Guy type rhythm.

Eva’s Pond (or something) was the new song I have already mentioned.

Finally to round of the set was Northern Lights which was the song that got
me into Renaissance so very appropriate.

To me it was an enjoyable set put it would have been better with a full band
backing. Annie’s voice is just as beautiful as ever and that is what I was
therefore so I have no complaints really

Eventually I did find a Caravan fan and they sounded like they were worth a
listen from there instrumentation. I was not impressed there were lots of
people on the seats in the balcony but it was still closed. Anyway Caravan were
an average sort of band but had very good players. The young guitarist in
particular was good and very old school so enjoyable to my ears. The Violin
player also played Flute and Mandolin type guitar so was quite versatile. He
didn’t quite capture me like he should though. I also enjoyed the keyboard
player on the odd moments when he was allowed to let rip. Someone by
coincidence told me they had a Caravan album in there top ten albums of all
time. I think I might give it a try sometime. The lead singer seemed
unremarkable and he also played simplish guitar. One of the early songs was
apparently from a recent album and about a friend who the audience gave me the
impression was in the crowd. I hope he wasn’t as this was a very sad direct
attack on him called Liar. I wonder if he was an ex-member or manager. I found
it interesting that they had a drummer and a percussionist but I spotted a gap
against a well so made a dive for it even though it meant not being able to see
him. The set it has to be said was for me pure grit teeth endurance and I am
never good at hearing "new" bands so I am sure Caravan are or were a
lot better band in their day than I was able to judge.

The Astoria was a strange place no band got an Encore despite fan requests.
It seems there is a 10.30 curfew (which I guess I approve since I have trains
to catch) but it does seem wrong not getting an encore from the main act.

Now I wonder if there are an Black Sabbath tickets left. It would be a good
place to see them. Except the sound seemed to be only coming out of the left
bank of speakers from my slightly left off centre position for Annie. The venue
is a wide shallow place so everyone gets a reasonable view.

Def Leppard/Lukan – Wembley Arena – 14 October 1999

Well what can I say about this that is fair? I only attended
because one of my chauffeurs had a spare ticket and wanted me to go. I normally
avoid bands I don’t know. Especially now I am ill. I have seen Leppard twice
before once in 1981 when I was a fan of the first album. And once in 1986 when
I had definitely lost interest. It is therefore a long while since I have seen
them. I guess they where OK and the crowd certainly enjoyed them. They are twin
guitar and a decent old style of playing. But overall they just left me cold.
It was amusing how Joe Elliot did most of the Gig in Cardigan. Vivian Campbell
was my side of the stage and seemed to throwing the normal poses and in good
humour. He reminded me of Tino Troy and that lead me comparing them with
Praying Mantis. They are this sort of line up if only it was them there or even
as support. Rick Allen the one armed drummer was interesting to watch. And I
thought overall he was better integrated with the band this time. It was lots
of drumming to Midi files last time. There was an enormous Union Jack as a back
drop and being Wembley the lighting was good but not spectacular. I guess
overall it was OK and perhaps a fraction better than I expected but I was glad
when the main set finally ended and I knew it was going to be over soon.

The chauffeur Rob Ford insists his view is expressed. This
gig was a pleasant surprise since the bands recent album has not sold well in
the UK and the Bands profile is diminished. Coming off yet another highly
successful USA Tour with healthy album sales to boot it’s must be very
frustrating when you have the biggest selling album by any British act for four
years to come back to the UK where the record company has fouled up the
promotion in every way possible. However the band seemed up for it from the
start and pleased the 10,000 or so die hard fans with a familiar set containing
only 3 tracks from the new album Euphoria and only the title track from the
previous album Slang. The gig finished with the surprising inclusion of Wasted
and Let It Go from the first couple of albums. This roundedof not a classic but a very good Leppard
performance..

Can’t you just tell he is in the Music business!

 

Main Set

Rock Rock Till You Drop, Action, Demolition Man, Women, Make
Love Like A Man, When Love And Hate Collide, Hysteria, Foolin’, Animal, Paper
Sun, Slang, Promises, Love Bites, Armageddon It, Photograph, Rocket, Pour Some
Sugar On Me, Rock Of Ages

1st Encore

Let’s Get Rocked

2nd Encore

Wasted, Let It Go

Schindler/The Stranglers – Ipswich Regent – 21
October 1999

This is another odd gig for me to go to. I originally booked
it because I didn’t have any gigs coming up and their first album was OK. I had
have also got a recording of them done for German TV and I was impressed how
much they used the keyboards in there sound. Also it was Ipswich so no tiring
travel.

Schindler (at least that is what an usher said they were
called) were a standard 4 piece unit. The singer (a loose term) sounded like he
was a Geordie. The band played a typical sounding punk set and I guess were OK.
The vocalist while not great had a good sense of humour and kept trying to get
the crowd to react to him by pretending he was going to spit and them or dive into
them. The place looked really empty at this point in the evening and I was
generally disappointed that a town with the catchment area of Ipswich can’t
motivate itself to go to concerts. I was in the circle as I expected the
audience to stand and that is the last thing I needed. I only had 30 or 40
people up their with me. My mate said that they should have played the smaller
Corn Exchange which is mainly Standing and I figured as usual when it comes to
knowing the music market he was right.

At 9:15 the Stranglers came on stage and I am told their
were just two originals left. This surprised me as I had got the
impression of Teletext that Hugh Cornwell??? the original vocalist had rejoined
them for the tour. He had apparently played 60 people at the Colchester Art
Centre 4 nights previously. The two originals were the drummer and bass player.
This surprised me as the guitarist looked a lot older than the base player. The
vocalist I thought did a pretty good job of copying Cornwell singing attitude
and certainly put a lot of energy into his performance. The crowd must have all
been in the bar as a lot of people turned up with five minutes to go and they
all stood at the front so I made a good choice going to the circle.

I had been rather disappointed as the lack of size of the PA
system but it actually turned out to be a very loud concert. The keyboard play
was playing in chain-mail and had a sword. I don’t know why. The bass player
and guitarist were both throwing poses all night but in a Punk Style not a Metal
one. This made a change for me.

The lighting too was very usual to me. It was very dim and
mono coloured for a lot of numbers but occasionally they would switch on the
moving lights. This I would like to comment on but I can’t since I am
photosensitive and sudden lights in contrast to a dull background was really
disturbing me.

The set sounded like it must have contained a lot of stuff
of the earlier albums. I recently got the Greatest hits disc up to 1990 and
after Golden Brown they seemed to have softened a lot. This was little sign of
it in this set and I found it interesting watching the different drumming style
and the monotony of some of the riffs etc..

I think I probably
expected them to be slightly more musical than they were based on what
I have heard of them but overall they played my favourites and were an OK
night out. I had considered seeing them last November as Gowan was there
support act. Unfortunately that was the day after my return from Japan. How
Gowan got on a bill with the Stranglers now has be completely baffled. I wonder
what the audience made of him. Not a lot sadly I feel.

Gary Moore – Norwich UEA – 29 October 1999

As usual I approach the gig with trepidation. I was run down
and it was a standing gig :-(((( Luckily when I got there I discovered there
were no special guests. So that was a relief. The only other concern was what
sort of set Gary would play. He has just released a trendy album which is
rather weak according to the press. We were worried we might get a drum and
bass set.

We got two new numbers I think and while they weren’t great
they were OK. Gary Moore is one of the few guitarist I can sit and listen too
solo all night. The other main ones being Carlos Santana, Tony Iommi and the
Mantis guys.

The first thing I noticed when Gary came on stage is he is a
guitarist whose face feels the guitar. I.e. he pulls faces as he bends the
notes. I absolutely love this. I get bored by slow blues but add an electric
guitar and wind it up and let it go and I love it.

Tonight was a classic example. I can’t recall the last time
I let myself go at a gig and headbanged getting my hair in my face. I was
enjoying it so much I could barely watch the 2nd half of the set. I was in Air
guitar heaven. Perhaps it helped that someone somewhere in the crowd was
smoking Pot but I doubt it. I am sure it was Gary. The were some numbers in the
set I didn’t like eg Let Me Stand Next To You Fire which was a very poor follow
up to my favourite of the night Still Got The Blues For You. That was
definitely where I really forgot where I was and drifted off to another place.
Other numbers I found a little pointless were the I Need Your Love So Bad and
My Baby Don’t Love Me which were covers that most pub bands play.

His supporting musicians didn’t get a chance to shine except
on one number when the keyboard player got to solo and exchange riffs.

I am glad I choose to taken in this gig. It was a great
night out. I saw Gary once before as 2nd on the Billto Marillion when I went to see Jethro Tull at Milton Keynes in
1986. He impressed me that day to but I never got an album until I accidentally
heard Still Got The Blues in a Record shop. That was the only time I can recall
buying an album having heard the music. I think perhaps the night could have
been improved if it had been BBM. I.e. Jack Bruce (whose voice I like more) And
Ginger Baker on Drums. But what the heck it was a great night. Also being blues
every other song seemed to start like Pretty Woman. I didn’t care once it got
to the solo.

Roy Wood Army Spectacular – 26 November 1999 –
Brentwood Leisure Centre

It’ s a long while since I have been to the Brentwood
Leisure Centre. The last time might have in fact been the first time I saw the
Roy Wood Big Band around 1992.

The support act tonight were Dangerfield. They gave me a
good chuckle I couldn’t believe I was attending a gig where I was expected to
sit through a support act doing standard cover songs in a very standard manner.
Why aren’t they playing in a pub in their hometown?

The Brentwood Centre is a long thin sports hall venue. It
therefore had lots of room on stage and it was nice to be able to see the horns
staggered onthe stage. I was very
central in the audience and I think this was the first time I have been able to
see the whole band with ease. I think everyone could though. I estimate
700-1000 people were in a place that can hold possibly 2000. This said I reckon
this was an average crowd as a lot of seats would be obscured by the speakers
etc.

The first think I noticed about the band was a new bass
player. He sadly was less of a character than the old one. The next think of
note was the Army were no longer in the Army attired of the last tour. It was
all black trousers and jackets. Woody seemed to be in the same clothes as last time
though. Are they fazing out the Army bit?

The program and T shirt were both new and I thought very
good. I did have to laugh again at some of the comments on Woody’s page though.
It mentions the Army like they were a different band to the Big Band and it
also talks about new material Woody is writing for them. There are lots of good
photos of previous tours as a good souvenir. Gill (I assume) has done a very
good job on this.

I wasn’t too impressed with the crowd’s enthusiasm. They
seemed to be exceptionally quiet. Norwich seemed a lot more lively last time
and I am surprised to say this since I think East Anglian crowds are often very
tame.

Woody claimed to have a cold again and was saying how tiring
it was. I guess he is getting old but does he really have a cold every gig or
is it just the standard intro to House Of Love? He didn’t seem to bad this time
anyway.

My views of this gig overall are as previous reviews.
Someone said the arrangements seemed more Jazzy or something this time but I
couldn’t hear any difference. One thing I did notice however was the volume
seemed to go up on the "New" songs. Do the Brass have more to do or
just enjoy those songs more. I was disappointed to see more people going to the
Toilet during Roy’s Revenge but I guess it had been implied it would contain a
drum solo. Even so I enjoy the bit before and after it and people were going
during the start. Strange.

Jethro Tull – Ipswich Regent – 27 November 1999

This was perhaps the forth or fifth time I have seen Jethro
Tull and I have to say the one I enjoyed most. I first saw them in 1986 third
on the bill to Gary Moore and Marillion. It was good but I didn’t know a lot of
the set. This has been the case at most of the gigs since then but at last I am
starting to know the enough of the early material. Strangely the era I have
ever caught up on.

The local paper sponsored the gig and I wondered if this was
because tickets hadn’t been selling or they were selling out. In the past I am
sure the gig sold out fairly early. Luckily when I got to the gig I was pleased
to see the venue looked fairly full if not totally sold out. I am glad Tull
still have their pulling power.

I wasn’t particularly into J-Tull Dot Com. It is OK but I
thought the previous album Roots To Branches was better and this seemed to be a
sight step back to my hearing. I don’t think my view changed after seeing
tonight’s set and I don’t think we got anything off Roots To Branches which was
a shame.

Tull are quality performers but they don’t take themselves
too seriously. They like to litter the performance with odd bits of humour such
as a telephone call in one song. A fight between the Keyboard player and Bass
Player for a microphone and a Rabbit looking for it’s glasses.

I was on the front row for this gig. I must remember not to
choose this location again. I love watching the band so close but I feel
terribly exposed and when everyone stands up I stick out like a sore thumb
because I am trying to save my energy and am very reluctant to stand. Luckily
the crowd were kept from going to the stage until about ten minutes before the
encore so I had no problems seeing.I
have to say not being able to stand at a Tull gig is something that puts my
little brother off going. When the crowd could stand it was only during the encore
they did and then to my surprise most people sat down again just leaving an
annoying line (for me) of 1 row of people standing at the stage.

Another thing I noticed about being on the front row was the
sound seemed to be coming completely from the back line. It was actually quite
confusing as the guitar seemed to from where the Bass player stood on the left
of stage. The number of times I went to look for the solo and looked the wrong
place!

I don’t recall seeing the Keyboard player before. He was a
real character. I don’t know if he was a frustrated drummer or something but he
seemed to be doing good impressions of Animal from the Muppets. I couldn’t
really see his playing but he was all over the place with his feet.

All of the band seemed to enjoy throwing exaggerated posses.
I have always loved watching Ian Anderson’s flute playing and how he throws in
extra vocal noises in his breaths. Being so close it was good to watch eyebrows
and general eye movements.

Praying Mantis – 10 Year Party – Dean Swift – 18 December
1999

To celebrate tens years of the current core line-up of
Praying Mantis the band decided to hold an invite only party. The band did no
rehearsals for the gig since they are still busy working on he next album.
About 7 songs are now in a pre-mix stat of completion, so before Mantis played
the main set they put the tape on. Unfortunately it wasn’t very loud compared
to the packed pub. So I didn’t really pick up an impressions about it. One song
sounded like a "Remember My Name" type slow song. Apparently Dennis
has written two songs and co-wrote one with Chris. Chris has done 6 altogether.
Tino about two. And Tony has done the lyrics and melody for one song.

Tony had been due to come down and record during the
previous week but unfortunately he had been laid out with a cold. It was very
unclear if he would make the gig or not. Luckily he did and I thought he sang
very well. I couldn’t really tell he was feeling ill (A feeling I see in others
about me all the time so I am sure he still felt very rough.)

The band set up their gear and played a warm up around 7pm.
It was very obvious they hadn’t played the songs since the tour of November 98.
By the time they played the official set at 9pm though the one time play
through and almost completely sorted them out. Amazing! Lovers To
The Grave on the warm up had proved the most difficult but although the
band noticed a few problems and spent a few minutes remembering who was playing
which harmony they were still pretty good.

Leon Lawson was back on the keyboards and I know ten days
before the gig he had not played the songs and couldn’t remember them at all.
He had had to get a set list and re-learn all the parts from scratch. Being a
guitarist until 6 months before the last Mantis tour, he was still in the early
stages of playing keyboards. He was a quick learner and having an extra year of
practising Rick Wakeman and Patrick Moraz techniques he was looking forward to
playing even more this time. It was also the first time he had played Lovers To
The Grave. Not that he had caused any of the problems in the warm-up. They seem
to have been mainly lyrical problems. Very surprising since Tino and Chris had
only been singing them during the summer. It was interesting to see the
difference between how Steve Carroll handled this song and how Dennis did it.
Perhaps I am remembering a different song but in the fast section I seem to
recall both Steve and Tino were on the arpeggios half way up the neck of the
guitar but Dennis seemed to play a completely different backing at that point.
Both sounded great.

The Dean Swift is a 30m?x20m? box room with the bar taking
up large amount of space in the centre of the back wall. The band were
therefore positioned on the long side in front of it. Leon on the far left in
one section. Dennis next in another and then Bruce, Tony, Chris and Tino in the
main section.

The mix or lack of it was actually very good. I was
positioned slightly to the left of Dennis and I didn’t get the full effect of
Tino but everyone else was perfect.

For the main set the pub was packed (Even though the guest
list looked to have limited numbers and the pub was officially closed for the
night)

After the Mantis set we got a few covers from a sort of
Paddy Goes To Holyhead/Mantis. The drummer and singer from Paddy’s join Tino
and Chris both also in Paddies. Steve Mann who used to be in Lionheart and MSG
took over Dennis’s guitar. And Leon remained on keyboards. Tony and his Wife
Jaz did a few backing vocals on a couple of songs and a great deal of fun was
had by all.

Phil Moog of UFO was in the audience and they tried to get
him to play Doctor Doctor with the band. Unfortunately the Paddies drummer
didn’t know it so it didn’t happen. I am told a couple of members of Tank were
in the audience too but I didn’t notice them myself.

Dennis had most of his family there including the daughter
that was pictured on Only The Children Cry. I would never have guessed she was
there if I hadn’t asked as obviously she is no longer a child and has had a
haircut.

Tino’s wife Sarah arrived towards the end of the set. She is
pregnant with their second child who is due in March. Bruce’s new wife was in
the audience to.

 

Warm Up

Children Of The Earth
Can’t See The Angels
A Cry For The New World
Lovers To The Grave
Turn The Tables

 

Main Set

Can’t See The Angels
A Cry For The New World
Lovers To The Grave
Children Of The Earth (There was a classic moment in this in which Bruce forgot
they slow part near "Time has no meaning times tells no lies" and
Dennis had to grab his shoulder to slow the drum fill down! Tino had a guitar
solo to play so could only smile while the rest of the band creased up. At the
end of it he then had a good laugh at Bruce too.)
Turn The Tables
Smoke On The Water
Rock’n’Roll

T-Rextasy, BC Sweet and Slade II – 19 December 1999 –
Ipswich Corn Exchange

It had slipped my memory that this gig was tonight. When my
friend phoned to asked what time to meet I was horrified at the thought. I was
absolutely wrecked at the Mantis gig so it was going to be hard to impress me.
I have seen forms of all three bands before and wasn’t particularly impressed.
Slade in the early 70’s were one of my favourite bands so I originally thought
I would make an effort and go since it was my local again.

T-Rextasy I have seen at least twice before and they are a
good tribute band. They dress up and make an effort to have fun. Sadly I don’t
like T-rex’s music so they were never going to get me motivated no matter how
enthusiastic they were. They certainly did a good job and got the crowd on
their feet from the first song. That was extremely frustrating for me and I
thought I would never enjoy the night.

The Corn Exchange must hold about 1,000 people and I suspect
it was close to capacity. A lot had come out to have a party and I was amazed
at the age range there. Teenagers to OAP’s (Sitting next to me and dancing most
of the night to really put me to shame!).

The last time I saw a version of Sweet they were 2nd on the
bill to Mud and I went to the gig at the last minute and only saw a couple of
their songs. Very annoying as I hate Mud! The Sweet I saw didn’t look the part
and I didn’t think they sounded good either. I therefore thought this BC Sweet
would be really sad. They were Brain Connolly’s (the original Sweet Vocalist)
backing band. Sadly he died a few years back so now there are no original
members in this band. The Praying Mantis drummer Bruce Bisland is a member of
Andy Scott’s (Original Sweet guitarist) Sweet. They struggle to get UK work so
I thought BC Sweet might be the one setting a bad example. But when they came
on I have to say I was very impressed. This band were all glammed up. They used
a few fireworks and they sounded reasonable to me. They played all the expected
hits and again the crowd had a good time. I would certainly see them again if
they came to town.

So to Slade II the last time I saw these was a few years
back in Colchester. In fact it was the last gig I stood in the crowd at the
front at. Now that is a rare thing in itself as I don’t think you can see well
etc. I had been due to see the Original Slade in 84? but it got Snowed off and
I decided to sell my ticket before it was rearranged. Something I have always
regretted but I guess I was short of cash still being in sixth form. I didn’t
like Slade II’s vocalist particularly last time or Slade Live in general. My
views in recent years have changed slightly and I do in fact like Slade Live
now. I also recently put a Slade II radio show to CD-R so I have now got used
to Noddy Holder’s replacement. When they came on stage I thought they were
slightly disappointing in appearance. Unlike the other bands they didn’t have
their name on a back drop and only Dave Hill and the Bass player looked
slightly glammed up. Dave Hill however was as flamboyant as ever. He started of
in a Shiny cape, black hat and Metallic red shirt. Moved to a different
coloured waist coat and large Mad Hatter hat. He eventually went on to a silver
long coat and guitar and then a basic Father Xmas hat for the end. There were
two Boxes put on stage so that the Bass play and Dave in particular could preen
and show off. The bass player in fact went through some clothes changes to but
I didn’t spot that as much. The changes happened when the singer and Don Powell
were working the crowd etc. About 3-4 songs from the end the roadies came out
and started throwing Toilet Roll streamers into the crowd. This simple thing
was really effective. The crowd were throwing them back and hitting the band a
few times and they were also wrapping themselves up in it. A good laugh. There
was one Slade II original song played and most of the Slade hits in a set
lasting 70 mins or so. The other bands had 40 minutes.

The tickets for the night were 16.50ukp which seemed a little
expensive before the show but I think overall we got good value for money. Especially
if you liked the music of all three bands. Despite previous comments about Roy
Wood I think a double header show with Slade II would make a terrific night
out. I guess the effort to Glam up impresses me more than it should but what
is the point of a show of Glam Rock era bands playing their hits if it is not
for the nostalgia value. It certainly made me wonder what it would have been
like to see what these bands were like in the mid 70’s.