Renaissance – Tuscany

This in an interesting one. There hasn’t been a new Renaissance album with
Annie Haslam on vocals since about 1985. Actually Time Line seems the latest
studio I have and that is P1981. I am surprised.

Knowing another of my heroes Roy Wood had had some involvement with it spiked
my interest further. He had previously worked with Annie On Annie In Wonderland
and I must confess I had been a bit uncomfortable with the merging of what were
to me two different sounds.

Michael Dunford has produced two albums under the Renaissance name, which were
OK but had Stephanie Aldington vocals. She is a fine singer but I am sure most
Renaissance fans would say Annie has a really special quality to her voice so
she is pretty irreplaceable. Interestingly the Aldington albums were written
by Dunford/Thatcher as were the original main era Renaissance albums. This album
was written by Haslam/Dunford. Betty Thatcher was pretty much a lyricist I think
so this you would expect this new album to sound like Renaissance. It doesn’t
though. All the way through I can’t help thinking this is a follow up to Haslam’s
solo album Blessing In Disguise. That is my favourite of her solo albums so
it is the one I recall best. Dawn Of Ananda, which followed Blessing, seemed
like a watered down version of Blessing. This album seems more upbeat but still
rather tame compared to Renaissance at their peak. Before I listen to the tracks
individually my impression is this is a keyboard-based album. There are certainly
none of the distinctive Bass parts of old. And I am not sure I can think of
any guitar of note. I certainly don’t remember thinking anything sounded like
Roy Wood had touched it.

Right lets listen in track by Track

Lady From Tuscany – This is a good start to the album. Very Blessing In Disguise
though. Michael is playing Acoustic Guitar and can be heard OK but it is the
Keyboards that are distinctive to me. Michael also add’s backing vocals but
they are a bit buried in the mix. I think it is one of the keyboard voices that
is making me think of Blessing In Disguise so much. There is a nice keyboard
solo. When I saw Annie Haslam solo she had Michael on guitar with her and Mickey
Simmonds on Keyboards. They had I think already started work on this album and
performed Eva’s Pond that night. I don’t think I had been that impressed by
Mickey (He was using Midi backings live) but he has done a good job here.

Pearls Of Wisdom – Looking at the track credits Dunford only plays acoustic
guitar on the album.’ He is there but it is very gentle stuff and I suspect
it wouldn’t miss it too much if it wasn’t there. Perhaps I would be surprised
there are certainly lots of loud strumming at times on this but mostly the individual
note playing is too low in the mix for me to sit up and listen to it. Again
it is Annie and Simmonds on Keyboards that make the most contribution to the
songs. This song overall is OK but not one that makes me think I like that.
It is more a piece I appreciate as part of the whole sound of the album

Eva’s Pond – This one is literally Simmonds and Annie alone. I remember Annie
saying live she and Michael had written it but he didn’t actually play on it.
Very strange. Again this is an album track that is nice but not a grabber for
me.

Dear Landseer – Former Renaissance man John Tout plays piano on this one but
Simmonds is still the main player. I am now focussing in more on what Dunford
is contributing. Annie’s voice is still top notch. This is the first track with
Roy Wood involvement. He plays Bass, though why anyone would ask Roy Wood to
guest on an album and then get him to play Bass is beyond me. Especially as
it is barely audible. I quite like this one.

In The sunshine – Roy Wood is also on this one. He is a joint Producer with
Dunford and Haslam. He is also credited with Bass keyboards and orchestral arrangements.
But apart from the Bass so is Simmonds so it is hard to know who did what. This
track perhaps sounds fuller so I wonder if that was Roy. I like this one too.

In My Life – I guess I do notice Dunford after all. Being acoustic guitar I
am just not as aware of it. This one is a really gentle one again but it is
probably one of my favourites on the album. I can’t really justify why. It is
so simple but I guess I just like Annie’s vocal. The Bass is actually a bit
more noticeable on this one.

The Race – This one is my favourite of the album and is the only pacey track.
Or at least it is noticeably faster than anything else. There is far more to
listen too and it is generally far more exciting, which is at list 60% of my
key motivation when listening to music. I like the whole of this album but wish
there had been more like this on it.

Dolphin Prayer – This track only has Halsam with Trout on Keyboards. Roy Wood
adds backing vocals. Prayer is a good term for it. The keyboards are long chords
initially although they do get added voices at times. Annie is very choral.
And there is only one point I think Woody must have added a low voice (About
2.12 in). I certainly wouldn’t claim to know he or any male voice was on the
track really. This track is my least favourite on the album.

Life In Brazil – This one actually starts like a Renaissance track. Perhaps
Northern Lights. I guess this is quite pacey too. Woody is on percussion on
this one. Again a very strange involvement. I would so love to interview him
about this. I like this track again. It is so strongly from Annie though. She
has been really impressed by fan reactions in Brazil. It is at least her 2nd
song with Brazil in the title

One Thousand Roses – The pace drops again and we get another song with two
minutes of in my life type vocals. Then it suddenly wakes up and I guess it
is fast again. I think it is the keyboard parts on the Race that make it seem
so much faster compared to tracks like this. Once we are over the first two
minutes this could be another favourite of mine. There is certainly a nice Marillion
type keyboard solo. No real surprise there as Simmonds has played with Marillion’s
Fish. The last minute then ends a bit like the first but it seems a reasonable
ending to me. I guess I should be analysing the lyrics more but that only tends
to happen with me when they really grab my interest. Annie’s vocal style doesn’t
always help my natural hearing of the words if I am honest. I just played the
slow start again and I would never have guessed some of the lines without the
lyrics in front of me.

As a counter Balance I have just had a quick play of Time Line the last Haslam
Renaissance album and The Other Woman with Aldington on vocals. I certainly
prefer this to both of them. I am not sure I can view this as anything but a
Haslam solo album but I think it an excellent album all the same. Much better
than Dawn Of Ananda, which is a pure solo Haslam album, and slightly disappointed
me.

I guess the name is unimportant to a lot of people but it is very interesting
to see how various components of Renaissance come together when separated and
put back together in a slightly different way. I wonder what Renaissance would
sound like if the mid-70’s line up were to reform and the old song writing dynamics
were restored. Annie has obviously grown a lot in the intervening years and
from what I hear here she is now the strongest force in writing. Fascinating.
It is such a shame this album is only out in Japan so far. I hope there will
be another Renaissance album.

Band Reviews from 2001

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.

Paul Rodgers / Asia – Ipswich Regent – 23 Feb 2001

I had this gig booked a long way in advance and wasn’t too sure about going.
My friend when I told him about it said I should go and since it was local I
decided I might as well.

Then my schedule became full for this week and I had a marathon session with
my children during the day. So yet again I was in lousy shape for a gig I could
have done with out.

I was pleased to hear Asia were on the bill. I haven’t heard anything of their’s
since the first album but at least it was two bands I had minor interest in.

Asia came on about 7.45 and played for 45mins or so. They seemed to do a new
album track followed by something older. There were two tracks from the first
album and one from Arena. I don’t think they announced anything else as old.
Only Geoff Downes was an original and I hoped for a fair bit of keyboards in
the mix but annoyingly they were not very loud. Nor was the guitar actually.
The guitarist seemed rather young and I was impressed how fast he could play
but he is more of a Steve Morse than an old school guitarist. He seemed good
for a laugh though. "Catweazel" came to my mind as I looked at him.

The songs of Asia are far too light for me but they were OK and they passed
the time nicely.

Then about 9.05 Paul Rodgers came on. This was a weird one. About four songs
and three Free tracks into the set I was thinking this is almost like Cabaret.
Something was really missing. I think the Regent was 90% full downstairs but
the crowd were incredibly subdued so that might be a factor. But the band and
Paul just seemed to lack something. I don’t know what. Well actually I wondered
if it was stage presence. There was no buzz anywhere. "Shall I do another
‘Free’ number?" a few "yeah"’s from the audience "alright
then" and another song. The guitarist seemed a bit of a non-entity this
time. When I saw Rodgers before he seemed to a much better one. Certainly Praying
Mantis’s guitarist was impressed. About 15 mins into the show there was a drum
solo. I haven’t seen one of those for a while and certainly never so early in
a set. There was then a Band instrumental a song or two later followed by Rodgers
solo with an acoustic guitar. He then remembered he had forgotten a song and
the audience were clearly expected to know it. I didn’t. I never discovered
what it was as he had the audience singing the chorus and they barely above
a mumble. Towards the end of the song he decided to try and get the audience
to stand. He seems a nice bloke but he just isn’t commanding. He did get 20%
of the crowd up straight away but the rest were incredibly slow following suit.
It must have taken 2 minutes for them all to get there. It was really strange
(and obviously I can’t criticise, as the last thing I wanted to have to do at
a gig is stand and even more so when really tired). I then change the song into
to Beatles numbers to finish warming the crowd up. As my mate said the whole
show seemed muddled and lacking in direction. After about 1hr he finished with
"Alright now". He is supposed to be the voice of rock so it is very
annoying when he doesn’t sing the songs and makes the crowd do it instead.

There were two encores. For the first a Piano with a keyboard was brought out
and Paul played it. Also for the first track in the encore two female vocalists
were supposed to come on stage. One did and one eventually did. The first on
looked really worried and out of place not knowing what to do when the 2nd hadn’t
arrived. Very strange!

Finally for the last encore Paul only used the Piano as something to stand
on while singing.

Overall I preferred Asia despite knowing more of what Rodgers did. It was a
very weird night though and I don’t think it was down to me being tired as my
mate thought much the same. He did prefer Rodgers to Asia though.

Rick Wakeman – Leas Cliff Hall Folkestone – March
25th 2001

I have a confession to make. I saw the tour dates for this
tour and I originally decided I might not bother going. There was nothing near
me and it therefore meant an over night stay in a hotel if I wished to get to
any gig by public transport.

I heard this would be the last tour so I felt ashamed of myself
and made the effort. As my children were away this gig at Folkestone seemed
as good as any.

I had left it late booking and was a bit worried when I was
only 8 rows back. Thankfully all was explained when I got to theatre and discovered
it was only 9 rows deep and very wide.

The Leas Cliff is a bit if strange place really. From the top
it looks nothing. Just a sort of tearoom. The Theatre is built underground into
the cliff face. So the further you walk in the lower you go. It all over looks
the sea. Despite my fatigue I did have a look to see if I could get down the
cliff face to see what the building looked like but it looked like a lot of
energy would be required so I went back to my hotel room (which was cold when
I arrived and I had left it to heat up when I felt restless)

Inside the theatre can apparently hold 1500 at standing gigs.
There are various combinations of seating arrangements and today they had it
set up for about 400 and there must have been about that there. It certainly
appeared more than the 300 I was told.

The floor made me think the place was pretty much a sports
hall rather than a traditional seaside theatre but see ceiling was very ornamental.

At 8pm the lights went down and something like the Overture
from Return To The Centre Of The Earth was played over the speakers.

Just before this finished Rick came on stage and sat at the
"Piano". He then did Dance of a 1000 lights as per the previous tours.
I.e. to a backing track with his part live.

Next was the story of mother and daughter in queue at theatre
and signing the mother’s underwear. I have heard this before but it might only
have been because I went to Ventnor for an Xmas bash.

Ramon was then introduced in a cut down version of church tour
intro.

Next up was Make Me A Woman. Rick did the Bass part on the
keyboard at the start and I was quite impressed at how it all sounded. Having
Ramon on vocals made it very unusual. Apparently it was originally written for
a tenor voice. Very good! I was already extremely pleased I had made the tour.

Then there was a new Jon Anderson Story from when they were
recording Keys To Ascension at Jon’s hometown. Very amusing it was to.

Next up were standard versions of And You And I and Wondrous
Stories followed by The Meeting with Ramon On Vocals. This was very odd to hear
when you know the original. I got the impression Rick was following Ramon’s
vocal speed on this. I am not sure if it is correct or if it was just because
I was not used to the new version. Again I was overjoyed to get something new
to hear.

There were some countdown rejects again. The intro was the
same as previous tours but the stories were new.

Next up was a medley of stuff from No Earthly Connection. This
worked really well I thought. I did notice Ramon doesn’t always seem suited
to faster phrasing but I got into this performance a lot more than on The Meeting.
I wonder if the correct pronunciation required in Operatic singing means that
some phrases are hard to sing fast. Anyway I was now thinking "Crikey I
am going to have to do another date on this tour. This is a cracking revamp
of the set."

Next was the story about After The Ball, which of course was
followed by the same. Rick told it in a slightly different way this time, which
was quite interesting. After the Ball itself was much as normal but it is an
excellent piece all the same.

To End the half it was Ramon’s Football song with the normal
Nellie The Elephant mistake.

Knowing Barber of Wigan was due too is was left thinking this
tour needs a DVD release too. Of course it would use up more of Rick’s Stories.

By comparison and probably only from my perspective as a keen
Rick Wakeman fan who has been spoilt by him over the years, the 2nd half was
a bit disappointing. Perhaps a better phrase would be it was more as expected.
There was no really new stuff to excite me like the first half. I wonder if
Rick should have shuffled the set slightly but then I am quite a rare breed
so I don’t suppose it matters too much.

The 2nd half started with "The Barber of Wigan" and
it’s standard intro. This of course still goes down very well. Rick still very
clearly enjoys performing this and he and Ramon were bopping about during certain
silly bits of it. I have a feeling it is approaching the end of my interest
but when I haven’t seen Rick tour for a couple years I am sure I won’t mind
and I still want it on DVD. Apparently the Wakeman Live DVD is in it’s third
pressing it has done so well so there must surely be a good commercial motive
for one date being recorded again.

Next up was the standard intro to Morning Has Broken and the
standard performance but with Ramon on Vocals. I can’t recall if this has happened
before or not. I guess it should have on the Church tours. I guess I will have
to look at my previous rambles sometime. There was a little bit extra on the
end off the Story, as Cat Stevens had bought a copy of the Live 2000 DVD.

There was a new story about how Seahorses was written. And
I guess we haven’t heard the song for a long while. It did seem very familiar
though. Is it on the Live DVD as a bonus Audio only? Listening to it I found
it heard to relate how Rick would write it on a piano and yet envisage it as
the final piece on Rhapsodies.

By now I was extremely uncomfortable and tired on in my seat.
I wished my hotel room had been warmer and I had therefore rested and not been
stupid enough to have a quick look round my surroundings.

More countdown stories the one about the Chicken he has definitely
told before and the other I think was new.

To end the set Ramon and Rick did Fool On A Hill.

And then it was Eleanor Rigby with Rick by himself. I must
admit I am bored of this one now. I guess it has remained in the set for the
"Countdown crowd" as Rick refers to the people that don’t really know
he is a musician and not a comic.

Rick went off the crowd was surprisingly enthusiastic so Rick
let them wait a little longer than normal but was still back fairly quickly
saying the usual "Aren’t Encores stupid?"

The encore itself was a nice surprise. It started with Hymn.
I don’t think I have heard Ramon do it before but I would want to check my records
to be sure. Then they did Julia, which I definitely haven’t heard Ramon do before.
I think Rick did the 1984 Overture melody in between the songs but I get confused
with that one. Certainly there was a bit of a musical break after Hymn. There
as an end piece of return or something played over the speakers as Rick and
Ramon waved goodbye. I have never seen that before.

Rick was wearing a long coloured coat again this tour and I
am pretty sure he changed it during the interval. I think it was Purple in the
first half and silverish in the 2nd. It was good to see their return after the
black "vicar" jacket for the last couple of tours. Another thing to
mention is Rick had 7 keyboards in the main rig tonight. I can’t remember him
using three directly though. I think they are mainly for generating extra sounds.
If I see the tour again I must pay more attention to this.

All in all a very good ending. The show ended around 10.30
having had a 15-minute break. So again excellent value.

Rick and Ramon seemed in very good shape. Rick certainly wasn’t
flexing his fingers and looking haggard like the last tour.

He is growing his hair again it seems. He blamed the short
cut previously on it getting in the way of his golf swing. I wonder if it is
growing because he is single again. I had planned to tease him about it but
as usual I forgot what I had planned to ask.

I have to say I have never seen such a big proportion of the
crowd staying behind after a gig for autographs. I was in no hurry as I only
had 70 yards to plod back to my room so I just sat and waited patiently. He
gave every one a good time to talk etc. He wasn’t fazed by the amount of people
at all.

I hear people are thinking of going to Quebec for Return. It
is awfully tempting I wonder how much flights are …..

Apocalyptica – Kings College, London – 27 March 2001

Well this will be hard gig to write up. Normally I have some idea what is being
played but while I knew most of it I haven’t a clue what the stuff was called.
I am dreadful at remember names of instrumentals.

I arrived at the King College early and was disappointed to see we were
queuing outside to get in. Luckily mum had reminded me too take my walking stick
seat so I had something to sit on instead of a damp pavement. The finally let
us in about 7.40.

The hall was on the fourth floor but strangely we entered at 2 levels below
ground level. Every one was walking up the stairs so I figured we weren’t allowed
in the lifts. Apparently we were. Bother! That absolutely killed me. To my delight
though inside there was a sitting around and after a few minutes a couple of
seats in the corner cleared and I was able to grab a seat, which when sat on
the back allowed me a good enough view of the stage that I didn’t have to stand.
Phew! I had been worried about that.

As we entered the building we were given the new CD single featuring Path with
vocals and Pray and Romance live. Excellent! I was slightly disappointed I couldn’t
buy the 2nd album on the stall. I had a quick chat with the guy though and the
tour is going well. The third album of original material and the best in my
view has apparently done 60,000 so far. Nowhere near the Metalica covers album’s
350,000 but pretty good and it is still early days.

Inside the hall it was a typical College bar. The stage was in the middle of
the long side and the bar was at the back. The seating and merchandise were
on the left. There was an upstairs bit, which seemed very popular. It reminded
me of the Astoria 2 really. It was a nice little place. I don’t think it was
as big as the Norwich UEA. I wouldn’t really like to guess how many it holds
but it was full. Lets say 700-1000?

OneDice were the support band and they were a death metal grunt vocal type
thing. Not my bag at all. Actually while I was queuing to get in I noticed I
was one of the older members of the audience. It definitely wasn’t my normal
sort of crowd. I sampled what a couple of people were listening to apart from
Apocalyptica and it meant very little to me. It was the sort of stuff being
played on the Friday Rock show though. Rage against the Machine etc.

This didn’t concern me as far as I am concerned Apocalyptica are a continuation
of ELO’s first self-titled album. Heavy rock music on Cello. I better they would
think it an insult if they only know later ELO but they are actually rather
similar.

While waiting for the band to appear I suddenly realised this is the newest
band I have ever seen hence the young crowd. I think Jeff Healy was the newest
before so these are probably newest by a good 7 years. And 14 over almost any
other band I have seen!

I expected the band to come on at 9pm but instead they left it to 9.15pm. I
had forgotten they would be sitting most of the set. I wonder if that meant
the audience struggled to see them a bit. I am not sure if they had a platform
on the stage to help or not.

During the Inquisition Symphony the guy I considered the main man on TV (2nd
from left) broke a String. I was very impressed at how fasted he changed it
number 4 the 2nd main soloist on TV also broke one later on. They certainly
give their cellos some stick. They have to remove string from their bows at
the end of every song. The also look totally knackered and out of breath.

There is a new guy in position 1 and I was surprised how many solos he was
doing. Number 2 seemed to be having a smaller roll compared to the TV show.

At the distance I was at I must admit I wasn’t noticing who was doing what
so much. I was just enjoying what I was seeing and hearing. I really hope they
release a DVD of their performances. I thoroughly enjoyed the show and want
a lot more 🙂

This was their first UK show and they went down really well. It was sponsored
by Total Rock radio so I hope it means they will play some tracks one Saturday
evening.

I thought the set was a good mix of fast and slow stiff. The left the stage
and after 2 mins came back for an encore of three songs. The last looked a bit
like a shall we do another one? So I am not sure if it was planned or not. It
was In The Hall Of The Mountain King anyway. I think the show ended around 10.50.
The band went off and then reappeared without their cellos to say a final goodbye.

It was a cracking night. I am thoroughly glad I went. I would like to see the
again sometime but I wish it were in a seated Audience.

Gary Moore – Ipswich Regent – 31 March 2001

At the end of last year I made the decision to try and cut back on the gigs
I was going to as they were talking too much toll on my body.

This tour for Gary Moore had been booked almost a year ago. Pretty much straight
after the last tour. Annoyingly this gig then ended up as the third gig in a
week for me and there are gigs I have missed I would like to have seen EG Uriah
Heep. Being an Ipswich gig I suspect I would have booked to see him even now
but this gig was certainly a low priority to me this week.

As usual once Gary Moore came on stage and started soloing I was absolutely
gripped. In fact this was the best gig I have seen in Ipswich for years.

It was the first night of the tour and according to Classic Rock Magazine Gary
Moore had played most of his new album to about 400 press people and got a very
lukewarm response. He was therefore very nervous tonight and told us so.

I don’t suppose it was helped when his guitar went dead during one of his solos
about half way through the set.

There was no support and Gary came on stage about 8.30. He started with the
new track ‘Enough Of The Blues’ which has the line ‘I have had enough of the
Blues but the Blues hasn’t had enough of me’. This is an excellent track and
got us off to a great start. I wonder if it is Biographical since the previous
album was "A Different Beat" and a complete flop (I think).

I haven’t got the new album but looking at the set list I don’t get the impression
it was that different to the last tour. (Looking at the album tracks on the
net perhaps he did do most of it, Stormy Monday is a standard and ‘The Prophet’
had been done before so they perhaps didn’t register as new album tracks)

I was very surprised when at 9.50 Gary left the stage for the first time. He
came back and did Jimmy Hendrix’s Fire and then seemed in two minds about weather
to do another song which he then did. He then left the stage again and came
back to do ‘The Prophet’ which he did on the last tour and had me confused as
it sounded like a rearranged ‘Parisian Walkways’. I was left wondering as to
how he could do now do Parisian. He left the stage again the time now being
10.10 and that was that. He didn’t do it. I was very surprised.

I guess 1.40 is not unreasonable but when there is no support I was kind of
expecting 2hrs and a lot more new ones.

The Ipswich crowd was very enthusiastic tonight and I think the Regent was
sold out which was very pleasing.

As Gary was soloing I noticed several people on the front row looking at each
other and smiling with an "isn’t this brilliant" look.

I was in the centre of the 2nd row and have to say being comfortable and close
made this the best time I had seen Gary.

It was a great night out and I am really glad I went. I am tempted to order
the new album but I picked up ‘Blues for Greeny’ this week so I guess that might
put me off if I don’t get into it. I still feel Gary is a great soloist but
doesn’t always play great songs. I would also have liked to hear his tackle
something of BBM.

The main bulk of the set still seems to be from ‘Still Got The Blues’. And
I think the title track itself got the biggest response of the night. I wonder
why that isn’t an encore piece actually.

Lana Lane/Eric Norlander – DeBoerderji, Zoetermeer, NL – 27 April 01

See separate page

Lana Lane/Eric Norlander/Arjen Lucassen (from Ayreon) – Theatre ‘t Spant,
Bussum, NL – 28 April 2001

See separate page

Rick Wakeman – Theatre ‘t Spant, Bussum, NL – 28 April
2001

Well what a bargain this was my chance to see two great keyboard players in
one day. Also it was potentially the last time I could see Rick in a one-man
show format.

I had already seen Erik Norlander do a great but short set with Lana Lane and
Ayreon’s Arjen Lucassen. Now it was Rick’s turn I must admit I wondered how
he would compare. Norlander uses a really great Analogue Rig and I am sure even
Eduardo would love his sounds. I get the impression Erik isn’t fingers flying
like Rick though.

People who like Rick might be disappointed by the sound he used so it would
be interesting to see what people thought.

The two shows were actually part of the 8th Alfa-Centauri Music Festival. The
other acts had been very Ambient to me boring so these two shows were the only
two of interest to me and apparently they were a change to the normal format
of the festival which had been in a small venue previously. It had been a big
risk for the promoters but hopefully it had paid off.

The main stage was situated in a hall holding about a 1000 people. It wasn’t
completely full and in my view people were not sitting on the best seats. Most
chose to sit in the centre but I was on the raised side seats and this gave
me one of the best views I have ever had at a Rick gig. I was on the Left hand
side and just above keyboard height so I could see what Rick was doing. His
Piano keyboard was had the keys pointing almost directly at me so I had a great
view of that too. I hadn’t appreciated how fast Rick’s fingers move even in
some of the slower Piano Songs.

The Hall was almost square in size and there was an upstairs but I didn’t check
out what the seating was like up there.

Rick playing along to Pachebel (Cannon In D Major) opened the proceedings this
time

Rick said hello to the audience as he moved to his main Rig and said he normally
tells lots of stories but tonight he had promised to pack in as much music as
possible. He then said he had written 6 Wives back in 1972 when he was 11. I
thought hold on surely that won’t work in Holland they wouldn’t know what the
punch line of 11 stones meant (A Stone is a unit of 14 pounds weight). Perhaps
Rick thought the same because he just said, "mmm perhaps you don’t believe
me." I wonder if old habits die hard or if that is what he intended saying.
Anyway we then got Catherine Howard and Aragon in the form of The Catherine
Suite

Rick said he was going to tell one story and that this was the last of a one-man
show he had been doing for about 4 years. He then told the story of the Knickers
signing and the old ladies in the East of England. This in fact went over very
well with the crowd. Rick did speak in Pigeon English a bit but it was pretty
much the normal telling.

Rick then did Hymn and Julia from 1984.

Next Rick mentioned how Birdman of Alcatraz had been written because he was
recording with Yes and Chris Squire was 5 hrs late. He then of course played
it. There were no bird noises in this, this time.

The venue really liked their dry ice and the kept it topped up through out
the show to keep the lighting Atmosphere right. And the lighting was very good
for a Rick show but at times the dry Ice did get rather thick and it seemed
to choke Rick a little.

Rick next introduced the No Earthly Connection Medley saying it was one of
the most hated pieces by the press but equally the most requested by the fans.
We then got an excellent solo performance of this. Now I don’t remember seeing
Rick do this totally solo before so this was special for me. The last tour Ramon
Remedios was singing the main lines so I got to puzzling as to weather Rick
had had to rearrange it much and weather he could do all the parts. At one point
I did think Rick’s hands had been late moving so I wonder if he had a sequence
going for the main vocal line. It would be most unusual if Rick had as he normally
is very against this and will use a CD backing for say Pachebel and Dance Of
A 1000 lights. I watched as hard as I could but I was not able to decide one
way or the other. In no other song did I have this doubt as to weather Rick
was able to generate everything I heard himself. I really did love being able
to see Rick playing so clearly and was so pleased at my seat. Incidentally there
was no fixed seating. The crowd left the hall after each performance so it was
always first come first served

During the No Earthly Suite Rick lost the Right side of his keyboard monitors.
He therefore had to get the crowd to call Stuart to come and do a repair and
while Stuart did so he decided to tell the Jane Seymour Story. This was going
very well and then half way through with Stuart behind the monitors still working
Rick cut the story short with only the roof having been mentioned. I guess Rick
thought Stuart was finished but of course the crowd knew he wasn’t. Rick decided
he might as well play Jane Seymour with just one Monitor anyway. Luckily Stuart
got it sorted it fairly quickly during the piece and it didn’t affect the house
sound at all.

After The Ball got a brief version of the normal intro and then the normal
performance on the Piano. All of the stories seemed to get the usual laughs
so the Dutch must be very good at English.

And You And I and Wondrous Stories just got the usual tease of "I thought
long and hard about the set and wondered if I should do some Yes pieces. <Crowd
cheers> and I decided not to".

Rick’s hair is really flowing now. He is starting to look like he did back
in 1985 again. He was also not in his usual stage clothes tonight just dark
Jeans and a shirt.

Dance of a 1000 Nights had the intro explaining it had an orchestra on it etc
and they didn’t appear to have turned up tonight so we would have to imagine
they were just out of sight. I got the impression Rick started earlier than
normal on this one.

Rick seemed generally healthy considering he was just back from a tour of South
America. After some of the faster pieces he did look slightly pleased to have
got to the end. But then again even after slow piece he often seems to pause
for a moment of reflection before turning round to accept the crowds applause.

To end the set we got Eleanor Rigby with it’s usual intro. I said I was bored
of seeing this last time. I am but I do still think it a cracking track.

For the Encore Rick did Merlin. The crowd Participation version. The lady chosen
really did look terrified. It was an excellent end to an excellent show.

I think everyone enjoyed it and I was glad I had been there to see it one last
time. (For now).

It has to be said I was really worried about writing this review as I had left
it for 5 days due to fatigue and then fear of not remembering much. It seems
I managed to get back into my normal flow though. Sorry 🙂

Fish/Skyclad – The Junction, Cambridge – 6th May 2001

As we waited for Fish to come on my mate and I wondered how long Fish would
last before having a moan. Well Fish came on the first thing he told us was
that he had jammed is finger in the hotel door the day before and it hurt. He
then joked that it was his Mic finger and therefore the show was cancelled.
And so started a very chatty Fish show.

We arrived at the gig to the news that Skyclad were the support. Now that
is a big coincidence as I am currently listening to their current album. I first
heard of them a few years ago and took interest because they had a violin player.
I wasn’t sure I would like them so I just made a note to try them sometime.
I then read that the current album Folkemon that was written about the current
state of society where children can’t repeat the multiplications tables but
know all the details of a 151 Pokemon. Since my oldest daughters is a complete
Pokemon nut the concept appealed to me. And this week I had got round to actually
playing the album.

Apparently it was their first UK gigs for 5 years or so. They were mainly
acoustic and the violin was very clear in the mix. They did two tracks from
the current album so this made a nice support. I am not big on them but they
are OK.

I have never been to the Junction before. It is an unusual venue. It seems
like a warehouse that has been converted to have a stage. The Venue is pretty
much Diamond shaped with the stage in a corner. The sound desk at the opposite
corner. The merchandise stall was on the right corner from the stage. Apparently
it holds 800 people and I reckon it had 500-600 people in tonight. We were pleased
with this, as we hadn’t seen any adverts for it.

We had both pre-ordered Fish’s new Album Fellini Days but sadly they only arrived
at Fishes office on Thursday and I guess it will get sent to us next week. We
therefore had a gig with a lot of unknown material.

We both also loved Sunsets On Empire but were extremely disappointed by the
last album Raingods and Zippos. We were therefore curious to see what the new
numbers were like.

Luckily it seems they are heading back to the style of Sunset. I was concerned
that a lot of them seemed slow starting but at least half of them built up and
had a good guitar solo.

The set was very interesting. Until the last song of the set which was a medley
of old stuff he played only stuff from Fellini days, two from Sunset on Empire
and one, Tumbledown, from Zippos. This had a Piano solo intro and it sounds
terrible on the PA. Extremely tinny.

The Medley was Lucky, Credo and Vigil In The Wilderness Of Mirror.

For the 2 Encores he did the final track from Fellini Days and The Company.
Fish had the house lights turned on for this last number, which made it confusing
for the fans to know if we were to expect another Encore.

The lighting for the show was very good throughout. Well except a couple of
songs where they had yellow lights flashing around the audience. Those songs
I couldn’t watch at all. It was just too bright/quick for my photosensitive
eyes to respond.

Being the start of the tour Fish’s voice was in pretty good shape. There were
a few tracks with backing tapes. Fish had an unusual effect on a couple of tracks
and it was left on during at least one of his talks.

Fish’s Bass player tonight was Steve Barnacle. A name I remember being linked
to Rick Wakeman (he was bass player on "1984"). This had me thinking
during the gig of how many similarities and links there are between Wakeman
and Fish. Davy Patton left Wakeman to join Fishes band. They both had Brain
Lane as manager. Both have had a couple of attempts at their own record labels.
Both write newsletters to their fans and both love to have a long chat between
songs.

Talking of long chats Fish came on as scheduled at 9.15 and there was supposed
to be a curfew of 11pm. He had chatted so much he had only got to the end of
the main set by then. I guess he finally finished around 11.15pm.

I thoroughly enjoyed the set and really enjoyed the guitar playing. At times
I thought it was one of the best shows I had seen for a while (I was obviously
wrong, but it was that sort of high). I did notice that once we got to the Medley
at the end of the set I preferred the pace and style of those songs.

As I finish writing this Fellini days has arrived and I have played it once.
I am still concerned that the pace of the album is similar to the last album
and not as good as Sunset On Empires. I hope it is just my lack of listening
that is the problem.

It was a great night out anyway.

Blimey I have got to the end of the review without moaning about how knackered
I was prior to the gig and how it was an annoying standing up gig. Perhaps it
was because I had been knackered for a couple of days due to wanting to get
some stuff sorted on my PC. If I had gone to the gig fresh I would perhaps have
been more with it and therefore more aware of how rough I was feeling.

Rick Wakeman – Daphne Du Maurier Festival, Fowey –
17 May 2001

See separate page

Mostly Autumn – Mean Fiddler, London – 30 Jun 2001

I was looking forward to this gig. I had fancied going to see Mostly Autumn
for some time. I had even considered a trek up to York to take them in.

Then I heard about this DVD recording and since it was by Classic Legends who
have been doing Uriah Heep’s DVDs I was even keener to take them in. They seem
a quality outfit and I am keen to support their efforts and fan financing projects)

It has to be said the Mean Fiddler (the old LA2) is not my favourite venue
but it seems bands I like are able to play their a lot so perhaps it should
be. My main problem is it is another standing gig. Since I suffer from ME/Chronic
Fatigue Syndrome that is exceptionally hard on my body. Prior to the gig I thought
about my options, sometimes it is possible to sit upstairs but I figured Cameras
would be up there and in fact they were. I also considered sitting in a side
cubby-hole but the view is not too great from there. I therefore decided this
would be a major blow out gig. I would take my walking stick seat and stand/sit
my way through the gig. And since they wanted a lively crowd I decided to let
myself go and fully enjoy the gig and then suffer the consequences later.

I was slightly confused by my ticket it said Mostly Autumn plus guests. I assumed
this meant support but luckily I was wrong. I must admit I thought the idea
of a support at a video shoot an unnecessary pressure for everyone involved
so I am glad I was confused.

Doing this I have to say means I really enjoyed the gig. Mostly Autumn often
seem to have moody slow pieces on the albums but tonight it seemed a very upbeat
show.

I like Mostly Autumn enough to champion them on my website and also start an
egroup.com discussion list on them but it has to be said I am not really sure
how I view them overall. I am currently listening to their 3rd album and I need
to get round to reviewing it. I think I need to do the previous albums to as
I get the impression there is a lot of development going on with their style
and direction. Certainly I got the impression Heather sings a lot more lead
vocals on the new album.

Tonight it was very difficult to gauge who does the most vocals as Heather
often sings in Unison on songs I thought on CD might have been mainly Bryan’s
vocals. I got the impression she is perhaps doing more overall though.

One of the really nice things about seeing the band live is of course putting
faces to sounds. I might have looked at the photos in the booklet a couple of
times but I had no real idea of who was doing what and I certainly wouldn’t
have know if a band member had said hello to me before the gig.

It even took me the first few song’s to spot Andy Smith on Bass and Liam Davison
on 2nd guitar where two different people. I don’t know if I am just stupid or
if one of the stayed at the back of the stage in the dark and when one came
forward either side of Heather and I just assumed he was the same person.

It has to be said during the first set had selected a bad place to stand as
I couldn’t see Iain Jennings on Keyboards at all. I am normally attracted to
keyboard playing so I moved for the 2nd set but my view was still slightly obscured
by the right hand speakers so I didn’t really pick up on what he was doing like
I normally would.

To be honest I was mainly concentrating on Bryan, Heather and Angela tonight.
I have actually seen Mostly Autumn as a trio on the Blackmore’s night tour.
That wasn’t to representative but I do know Angela’s flute playing really interested
me. I really like the patterns in what she plays and when I got chance later
I asked her about getting music in that style as it is the sort of stuff I would
enjoy playing on my Wind Synth (Electric Sax/Clarinet/Flute if you like). Apparently
a book called O’Neil’s is a good place to start so I will be checking it out.

I was also surprised at how many instruments Angela plays. I get the impression
she has been a sort of part time member in the past but now she seems fully
integrated providing Backing vocals, Flute, Whistles?, Recorder and even additional
keyboards.

Heather also got through several instruments to my surprise, Bodhran (I assume
that is the name of the Tambourine/Drum type thing she forgot to bring on stage
in Cambridge for the Blackmore’s night show), Acoustic Guitar, and Recorders
and whistles.

Bryan’s guitar from my position looked like they were just leant against the
side of the stage. Surely I just couldn’t see the stands for them though. He
seems to have at least a couple of electric guitars and an acoustic.

I wanted to see more of what Jonathan Blackmore was doing on drums especially
on some of the up beat songs where there is a lot two-time? rhythm and a bell
cymbal is getting hit far to often for my tastes. I since am not sure about
the sound I wanted to see what he was playing there. I couldn’t see though so
I will have to wait for the DVD or until I see the band elsewhere. I really
want to see them again soon. I thoroughly enjoyed the show and Bryan’s guitar
style is so what I want to hear from a guitar player.

I wish I had spotted what was going on on the keyboards it seems strange that
I should see a band with keyboards and not know but with Flutes whistles and
lots of guitar I guess there isn’t as to much room left for keyboard’s at least
by my normal listening standards.

I feel sure there was violin on past Mostly Autumn albums but that seems to
have gone now. I don’t know how that might have affected the old songs. Perhaps
it was only a minor role. It seems a shame though.

Overall it was a great night out. I can’t wait to see them again and for the
DVD to arrive in the post. I noticed later on that Pip Williams was about so
I asked if he was in charge of the sound on the DVD and he was. From the Heep
disc’s I know he will do a great job.

The night was also nice as I meet Russ Elliot who runs Renaissance’s
web site
. He also introduced me to two from Karnataka
who as we were leaving mentioned and the lady had been an additional backing
vocalist in the 2nd half. Apparently they had been a support to Mostly Autumn
at some gigs in the past and the lady was asked to form part of the backing
trio in the 2nd set. I had only sat 90 mins with them after the gig and not
realised this! Shame on me. I should also have meet Charlie of the Mostly
Autumn’s Egroup
list but I must have missed him.

Speaking of the audience I was surprised how many woman were in the crowd.
There were noticeably more than I would normally expect to see at a gig I go
to. Is this typical for the band or is it because they are a northern band and
there was a coach laid on for local supporters. It seems woman up north seem
to enjoy good music more than those down south though I have never been able
to work out why.

I also didn’t register the crowd as being odd age-wise (IE. For gigs I go to).
So despite the band being relatively young they must attract the sort of crowd
that fits the older music style they play. Interesting and a shame really. I
mention this as Apocalypitica were the only other band I have seen this new
and in the UK they had a young Nu-Metal crowd for their version of Metalica
songs on four cellos. Some places it is apparently a more classical audience
but I am waffling off the point.

Mmm I thought I would struggle to write this one up but it seems I got into
it once I got going. Sorry 🙂

Looking at the set list it seems it was a fairly good mix of all the albums

Porcupine Rain (Shared)
Nowhere to Hide (Shared)
Evergreen (Spirit)
Which Wood? (Light)
Winter Mountain (Spirit)
The Spirit Of Autumn Past 2 (Spirit)
Heroes Never Die (Shared)

Set 2

The Night Sky (Shared)
Dark Before The Dawn (Light)
Helm Deep (Light)
Shrinking Violet (Light)
Out Of The Inn (Shared)
Never The Rainbow (Light)
Mother Nature (Light)

Encore
Shenanigans (Shared)?
Porcupine Rain (Shared)

Blues Band – Christchurch
Park Ipswich – 27 July 2001

Well this was a strange gig. There have been several gigs in the park and they
have apparently been successful. People come along with Picnics and seats and
sit on the grass etc.

The Bill was upside down from my point of view. Blues Band followed by The
Manfred’s followed by Borjn Again. From the crowd dancing point of view it was
clearly correct though and at least it allowed my to go home early.

This was the first time I had seen The Manfred’s and despite 3 members of the
Blues Band being in them i.e. Tom Mcguinness, Paul Jones and Rob Townsend they
didn’t do much for me. They came on at 20:15 the music was (Of course) very
1960’s pop and at times had a cabaret feel to it. Mick D’Abo perhaps seemed
the vocalist better suited to their tunes. They played plenty of songs I vaguely
new. But I can’t get my head around the simplicity of the style of the arrangements
of that era. They were occasionally bits that interested me and seeing the main
keyboard player was interesting. I wouldn’t choose to go and see them again.
Except apparently they well be doing another double bill with the Blues Band
in town later this year. I wonder if the set will be the same.

Curiously the Regent holds about 1500 and that is was the security people estimating
were in the park tonight. I would much rather see them in the Regent. It would
at very least concentrate the atmosphere and I suspect most were there for the
Abba Tribute. The Area of the park cordoned off has a capacity of 3000 and it
was a lovely hot night so it is really disappointing the crowd was to my mind
low.

So to the reason I was there. The Blues Band came on stage at 19:00 and Paul
said something to the effect. "Good afternoon. I say ‘Good Afternoon’ be
because there don’t seem to be enough here for it to be evening".

I was surprised at how Paul Jones was dressed. Extremely casual. Jeans and
what seemed like a cardigan or jacket. It was like he had just arrived. Once
he got rid of the cardigan/jacket he looked more his usual self. With the Manfred’s
they switched to suits so I guess this is why they seemed less formal they I
normally expect the to look.

The set was 1hr long and Electric only so very enjoyable from my point of view.
I love the first 4 albums the best so I guess this format pleased me.

Dust My Broom was the opener this was followed by Death Letter, Backdoor Man,
Let The Good Times Roll and Victim Of Love. I really enjoyed this one. Of I
seen it is another Tom Number off Back For More. Interesting.

They continued with "Bad Boy" and "I just can’t be satisfied"

Then Paul Jones started to introduce "Swing Out Dave" and something
else of Brassed Up but Gary Fletcher pulled him up and said he couldn’t play
the 2nd track. He was having trouble with his Bass. At the start of about the
third number there was no sound and then when he got it he couldn’t hear himself
on stage. From my hearing he sounded fine but clearly it was stressing him out.
Shame. Gary stayed a long way back on the stage. I wonder why

On "Nadine" Tom Mcguinness decided he was Jimi Hendrix and played
the whole of the solo behind his head.

We then ended with the usual "People Get Ready" and "Green Stuff".

I thoroughly enjoyed the set and even felt myself feeling a little high during
it. I had a heavy day in London with my daughter the day before so perhaps I
was so tired I was euphoric but clearly they moved me a lot too. Excellent.
I wish it had been 2 sets preferably both electric 🙂

Mostly Autumn/Sam Brown – Halesworth – 11 Aug
2001

I went to this one at fairly short notice. I only spotted it a couple of days
before. It was part of a 3-day Gig In The Park event
for the Nordoff-Robbins charity. I believe this was the 2nd day and Mostly Autumn
were 2nd on the Bill.

I arrived around 5pm and there were about three bands on before Mostly Autumn.
The first had an interesting guitarist and were from Yorkshire. They were OK
but not quite to my taste. Then there was a’ more general’ pop act. This was
followed by an Irish band that seemed very pleased to be playing on such a big
stage so far from home. There music I suspect was OK but again not my sort of
Rock.

Mostly Autumn were on about 8pm but I will skip them for now and go to Sam
Brown at about 9.15-9.30. I remember her single Stop. And I am aware she has
done lots of backing singer work with the likes of Pink Floyd Jools Holland
and Deep Purple. I have the song she did for Jon Lord at the Deep Purple and
Orchestra gig and her voice sort of interests me but then again doesn’t. It
is a weird one. I was surprised to see she had a headliner gig to herself anyway.
And she was OK but not to my taste. She played with her brother on guitar and
bass and drums. She herself played keyboards and she played them sitting down
to my surprise. I would have thought she would prefer to stand and sing. She
has a very powerful voice. As Sam described it herself she started gently and
built up to a crescendo at the end. The show was OK but I found her a bit too
slow with her singing and decided after 1/2hr to call my mum who was on chauffer
duty due to a lack of late trains to fetch me early. As it happens I still took
in the last hour but I didn’t pay the same level of attention. It was interesting
to see her and know for certain she isn’t too my taste.

And so to Mostly Autumn. As I say the stage was very big. In fact I was impressed
that a town the size of Halesworth could hold such an event. IMO it probably
did it better than Ipswich did for the Blues Band concert I went to recently.
To be fair though Ipswich has a music in the park type event and that was probably
more comparable to this one. Also the Amphitheatre near the stage was better
and can hold more. Halesworth had a much bigger stage though and the watching
area seemed a lot more intimate. In fact when I first arrived I wondered if
a week of rain had put people off going but there had been 1200 paying visitors
by the end of the night and the Halesworth council had apparently been causing
lots of trouble for the festival. When it first started the festival has been
held in this park but the two years before it had been held at a bigger location
at Sibton Hall. The council complained so it was back to square one for the
promoters. I do hope it worked out well over the weekend as it seemed a good
gig, encouraged lots of younger people and was a good place for bands to appear.

The audience was certainly reactive. There had been quite a few get up and
dance to the dance/pop band. They also reacted really well to Mostly Autumn.
The audience had been keeping a respectable distance from the stage with just
some children playing near the front barrier but as soon as Mostly Autumn came
on people started drifting down to the front to bop a long.

Mostly Autumn were a six piece today. Sadly Liam Davison was unwell and couldn’t
make it. He normally plays second guitar. Heather therefore took Bryans Acoustic
Guitar after the first song. Weather she ended up using it on more songs than
normal I am not sure as the DVD of the other gig isn’t out yet.

I made sure I positioned myself so I could see Ian Jennings on Keyboards this
time. I found I could hear him a lot better this time but I still found
my attention more on the left hand side of the stage as that is where Bryan
and Heather the main singers are.

There show started in the light and ended in the dark so the lighting was quite
effective through out. During the first few songs of Sam Brown they hadn’t used
any dry Ice at all. (At least non I can remember) and yet they used it very
heavily during the Mostly Autumn set. It certainly made the lighting very effective
and again it seemed so surprising for a gig in such a small town.

Two jigs opened probably off the first album. Andy Smith seemed the most mobile
member of the band running round interacting with the others. Heather sometimes
moved to a back risers when she had less to do. Angela also disappeared from
time to time as per the Astoria gig. Actually I didn’t register singing as much
this time. Perhaps it was because I could see Iain on Keyboards more and he
was singing himself.

I Don’t want To Close my Eyes was the first vocal track.

The set was only 50 minutes, which was a shame, but again I thoroughly enjoyed
it. It has to be said I am probably a bigger fan of the band that when I last
saw them so it is really good to take them in again and earlier than I originally
anticipated.

Back to another jig.

Spirit Of Autumn Past was next and Heather was on guitar on this again.

Then it was time for Evergreen and Heathers first main vocal.

It has to be sound the sound for the gig was excellent.

Then it was cover’ a cover of Gimme Shelter by The Rolling Stones which I later
found out was ideal because Liam doesn’t normally play on that one anyway. This
one seems to be a bit of a work out for Iain on Keyboards. It is also sung mainly
by Heather. It is very high and I must admit I thought it might be a Jimmy Somerville
cover or something. I like Iain’s Hammond solo and the whole piece is good.
I wonder why there isn’t a workout in a MA song for him?

Heroes Never Die closed the set. I thought they might do an encore but there
was no time. The Council had placed a curfew on the show at the last minute.
Or at least it as a surprise to the guy on the sounddesk when I was asking about
the timing of the bands. He thought the gig would finish gone midnight but it
ended overall at 11pm.

A good night out and I am looking forward to Brentwood for a full show later
this year.

U2/Kelis – Earls Court – 18 August 2001

This was my first time at Earls court. I went as a favour to my mate. To me
honest I wasn’t really looking forward to it but the 2hr 20min set passed by
a lot more enjoyably than I expected. I can’t exactly say that I enjoyed it
but at least I didn’t hate it.

We were in the Wheelchair section and I was a couple of feet behind the line
of the drummer and forty feet above. It gave a fascinating view of the band
and the crowd.

The support band went on earlier than advertised so they had started’ just
before we went to our section. I must admit I was worried it was very loud and
very cavernous sounding. Once we were in place it was so loud that I resorted
to earplugs but the overall sound wasn’t to bad.

We also had the bonus of two large TV screens which surprised me as I suspect
only the wheelchair sections could see them.

The support band was very pop and seemed an unusual choice. They covered a
Eurhymics track but apart from that I had no real interest. I guess it was unusual
to have an 8 piece all female band. And at least they played their own instruments.

U2 came on at 8.37 to one of their own tracks and then they played along with
it. The house lights remained on full for the whole song. A very usual start.
The lights then went down for the second song.

Bono then ventured out onto the huge Heart shaped catwalk. This was large enough
to enclose about 500 of the crowd. And at various times this was light up.

The guitarist also went out on the catwalk from time to time. But it was manly
Bono’s area. The only time the drummer and bass player ventured out was for
an acoustic number. After this they left the stage for one song. Oh and they
also walked round it at the end of the night. Actually I was quite amused by
this, the whole night Bono circled Anti-clockwise. Only at the end when we wanted
to try and get a photo of the walk did they go clockwise which meant we couldn’t
get a photo.

Bono also loved to worry the security by stepping off the Catwalk at the sharp
end of the heart and stepping onto the security rail. About 2 numbers in’ he
laid on the catwalk kissed a female camera person. Then a song or two later
another female was trying to get a kiss near the sharp end of the heart by being
raised above the crowd and not only did she get one, he then took her onto the
catwalk and smooched with her before she was the passed back over the crowd
to presumably where she came from.

The lighting was quite simple often only using white and shadows a bit like
the Velvet Undergrond. They also had a couple of lighting rigs that were moveable
and had men with spotlights on. About 2 at the front and 5 at the back. It seemed
a little strange having the band backlight but perhaps we needed to be out front
to get the correct effect. There were of course front spotlights.

There were also some moveable disco like boxes but they were hard to see.

Until U2 had been on 10 minutes the place looked half full. We were quite amazed
how late people were leaving it. The place had sold out officially and it did
finally look full. The crowd were really enthusiastic and it was great to see
so many people clapping and enjoying themselves while being able to watch the
band still.

It was an usual night out for me. Probably not worth the suffering afterwards
even though I had minimum exertion due to the wheelchair but it was interesting
enough.

Rick Wakeman – Braintree Institute – 31st August 2001

See separate page

Mostly Autumn – DVD Premier – 20th September 2001

See separate page

Mostly Autumn/Blackmore’s Night – 25 Sept 2001 –
York Opera House

See separate page

Rick Wakeman and Friends – The Oakwood Centre Rotherham
– 29 Sep 2001

See separate page

Karnataka/John Sloman – The Mean Fiddler, London – 27 Oct 2001

See separate page

Mostly Autumn – The Junction, Cambridge – 21 Nov 2001

See separate page

Mostly Autumn/Uriah Heep – York Opera House ‘ 24 Nov 2001

See separate page

Yes – Brighton Centre – 1 December 2001

The Brighton centre is a large scale sports hall really. It must hold about
5 or 6,000. The whole of the front centre was sold out and most of the bottom
of the side. The upper levels were fairly empty though especially where there
was a narrow view of the stage.

The stage had a neon Yes logo on it. This was actually two logos giving the
impression of 3d. There were also mirrors all along the lighting strips at the
sides of the stage giving extra views of the band and orchestra. However you
would need good eyes sight to get any use of them.

The Orchestra was positioned at the back of the stage behind a Perspex partition.
This I found a tad disappointing. All through the concert I was barely aware
of the orchestra playing so it would have helped to hear them naturally. Or
if the sound desk had turned them up of course.

The band were in there normal positions at the front of the stage. Steve Howe
on left. Then Tony ??? the keyboard player, Jon Anderson, Alan White and Chris
Squire.

I was sat on the 5th row in front of Alan White. And to the left of Squires
bass stack. Consequently I had a very bass biased presentation sound wise. I
don’t think this was the reason I couldn’t hear the orchestra to well though.
I suspect that is down to the band, I have the new album ‘Magnification’ and
I find it a very strange affair. I can almost forget there is an orchestra on
that to. Considering Jon Anderson did such a great album with ‘Change We Must’
I find this disappointing. I guess they just choose to utilise an orchestra
differently to me. I was expecting a minor role for the keyboard player but
he got all his solos, as I would expect them. Certainly nothing was replaced
by the Orchestra to my disappointment.

I am normally extremely irritated by Steve Howe so it was good that I had to
actively look if I wanted to see him. He didn’t seem like he was showing off
and had a big ego half as much tonight. Perhaps it is because there was no 2nd
guitarist this tour.

I enjoyed watching Chris Squire and hearing what he plays and sings. I don’t
think I have ever really followed what he is doing too much before.

Jon Anderson was dressed in Purple, as was the stage. He had his middle play
area set up as usual and occasionally used an acoustic guitar during the night.
He looked so unnatural with it. On at least the last two songs he played it
I am convinced the only sounds I was hearing where from the instrument itself.
I certainly couldn’t hear it in the speaker. No one seemed worried though.

At 8pm the Orchestra took to the stage and played a short intro. Again I wasn’t
too happy as all I could hear was through the speakers and I lost touch with
the sound I was hearing compared to the movements. It almost felt like a CD
was being played.

Yes then came on stage and performed ‘Close to the edge’. This was terrific.
The keyboard player was very visual with his body jumping up and down and exaggerating
his part. He generally seemed to enjoy things. At least 50% of the orchestra
seemed to really enjoy things when they were not playing. The backing vocals
were very clear. I thought Chris Squire might have bass peddles on the floor
to hold really low notes but I guess he was just using a sustain pedal. There
was a standing ovation at the end of this.

Next up was ‘Long Distance Runabout’. This had an orchestra intro prior to
Steve Howe’s recognisable guitar phrase. I thought Steve Howe was going to avoid
the need for stands with guitars to be brought out all night, as in ‘Close To
The Edge’ he had a swivel arm on his mic stand holding a guitar. But in this
song it was removed and he was back to all sorts of stands etc. I noticed on
this song the keyboard player sang. He actually sang for most of the remainder
of the night. Steve Howe’s vocals were rather low in the mix and a lot of time
he didn’t bother anyway. It tended to be Chris and the keyboard player mainly.

Jon Anderson went off into a spontaneous? ‘Here comes the sun’ since George
Harrison had died the day before. The whole band joined in on this eventually
and so did the crowd.

‘Don’t Take Love For Granted’ had all 5 players singing on it and it sounded
very good. The orchestra seemed a bit more prominent in these ‘Magnification’
songs. I guess because they were designed to be a part of the song.

‘In The Presence Of’ started off with Alan White on Jon Anderson’s Keyboard
before he returned to the drums in time for the appropriate section.

‘Gates Of Delirium’ complete with ‘Soon’ was next. Jon commented that he hoped
the orchestra would be turned up for this as it was quite wild but as far as
I could hear they weren’t. It has to be said the concert went down hill for
me from here. I have never liked this piece and it was followed by Steve Howe’s
Solo spot. The crowd loved Gates and gave it a standing Ovation again.

The Orchestra left the stage along with the band while Steve Howe did a couple
of tunes J Piece?’ and ‘In The Course Of The Day’, which he said, was for Roger.
Dean I assume.

Things should have picked up again for ‘Starship Trooper’ but they didn’t.
The orchestra stayed off stage until the Wurm section. Wurm was such a half-hearted
effort compared to normal. Not the normal fantastic efforts of say Yesshows.
Perhaps I am spoiled by the excitement of Rick Wakeman’s performances of it
but the keyboard solo was too short and Steve Howe didn’t seem too inspired.
Even so the crowd gave it another standing ovation.

‘Magnification’ was next and was OK. I noticed the Ah, ah, ahs were solely
from the keyboard player.

‘And You And I’ was probably the highlight of the night for me. It was great
to hear it again.

‘Ritual’ always makes be groan when I hear it is to be played. I like the ‘Tales
of Topographic Oceans’ album but I hate the drum section in this song. I actually
enjoyed the performance tonight. Well at least until the drum part. Everyone
except Steve was banging away on something during this. Chris had Timpani’s.
There was a drum for the keyboard player and Jon Anderson has his toys. In the
early part of the solo the orchestra were all banging green glow sticks.

‘I’ve Seen All Good People’ was next and again I groaned. I don’t understand
why they always play this awful song. I have a feeling the following happened
in an earlier song possibly ‘Starship Trooper’ but it also happened in this
one too. The crowd got really out of sync on it’s claps. It sounded awful and
caused the band to laugh. In the end Alan White seemed to add extra cymbals
where the crowd should have been after falling into complete disarray.

The encore was Roundabout. Everyone had been standing up for the ‘Brighton
Boogie’ as Jon put it from half way through ‘All Good People’.

On one of his song intros Jon said it was for his brother and apparently called
him completely the wrong name. Even Jon was embarrassed at himself.

The concert was about 2hr 45 and very good value for money. I think Yes performed
well. The set was good in many ways but clearly not for fans of 80’s Yes. In
fact apart from the ‘Magnification’ stuff it was all from the mid 70’s. You
would think Yes would try and promote more recent stuff more or tackle something
from the studio sessions of ‘Keys To Accession’ but no apparently not. I guess
most fans want 70’s Yes so no problem but it is interesting how they vary things
with there split fan base.

I have seen Yes a couple of times now and I am not sure I have any great need
to see them again. Perhaps if Wakeman rejoins or I particularly like an album
again like I did with ‘The Ladder’ I would go again. I went for the Orchestra
tonight and I thought this the poorest Orchestra and Rock Band presentation
I have seen. Deep Purple and ELO II seemed a bit more integrated and of course
I love how Wakeman used the Orchestra on Journey and King Arthur. I was less
keen on Return To The Centre Of The Earth as he was using them more in Unison.
Perhaps this is the current trend. Perhaps ‘Change We Must’ and ‘Journey’ were
special exceptions.

Maddy Prior and The Carnival Band – Ipswich Corn Exchange
– 19 Dec 2001

Former Lead singer of Steeleye Span played Ipswich last night as part of her Carol
Tour. Only a month before she had been touring with her current folk rock line
up but for the December tour it was the Carnival Bands turn.

The near capacity audience were treated to just under 2hrs of traditional carols
and an original piece by Maddy and the band called Gold Frankincense and Myrrh.

The show was performed in two sets, the first set being traditional Carols
performed in Maddy’s lively folk style. The start of the 2nd set was the set
piece, which was basically the story of the Three King’s journeys to meet Jesus.
Maddy gave the Kings different personalities and the music therefore had Middle
East and African flavours to it.

The Carnival band were a very impressive set of multi-instrumentalists. Raph
Mizarki and Steve Banks played various guitars lutes and Percussion. Steve also
played violin. "Jub" played double bass. Giles Lewin played Violin,
recorders, flutes and Bagpipes and Andy Watts seemed to be lead of the band
with a very impressive knowledge of what was being played. He also played Clarinet,
recorders, Bassoon and Bagpipes.

All five members of the band also sang harmonies so in at least one point in
the show we had a carol performed with just voice alone.

With the amount of instrumentation available we had a very varied night and
it was all done with good humour. Maddy made three costume changes during the
night and spent a lot of the time when not singing, dancing. Other members of
the band made changes too so when performing a French suite of Carols Raph came
on stage in stereotypical French costume and pretended to try and jam along
with the rest of the band.

Maddy was very approachable so instead of waiting in the dressing room during
the interval she was out selling draw tickets to raise money for a sponsored
walk she is planning and at the end of the show she was again out and signing
CD’s for fans.

The audience was a surprisingly varied cross section probably mainly middle
aged but also including Children. People had travelled from as far as Cambridge
for the show and all went home in good spirits.

Band Reviews from 2000

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.

Blues Band – Corn Exchange, Ipswich – 19 February
2000

The Ipswich Corn Exchange is a 1,000 seater hall with I suspect
a terrible PA system. Luckily it didn’t seem to bad from where I was on the
2nd row tonight.

The show was due to start at 8pm and I arrived at 7.45pm
to find the bar fairly quiet and the hall stunningly empty, maybe only 20
people in there. I couldn’t understand where everyone was. About 7.55 there
was a large influx of people and then about 8pm there was another one and
luckily the hall got to about 2/3 full. This was still very disappointing.
The last visit, surprisingly the same weekend a year ago, was a lot better
supported I wonder what happened this time. There also was supposed to be
a Paul Jones/Dave Kelly gig in between and that had been cancelled the day
before. I hope Ipswich isn’t losing interest. Those that were at the gig could
see the Blues band are a real class act. In fact I think I enjoyed this gig
the best of all the times I have seen the band.

(I feel I should mention my brother and sister would go to
see the band if they weren’t forced to sit. I am not sure how they would handle
the acoustic set though)

Oh while I am moaning I am very disappointed that the Corn
Exchange now seems to have some kind off Disco running late in the evening
and the boom, boom, boom really spoiled the last few numbers especially the
Dave Kelly song before Got To Be The Blues which was rather Quiet.

Oh sorry there was another complaint. The person on the spotlight
was hopeless this time. Last time the Blues Band played here Paul actually
praised the operator because he had heard the slide guitar and shined it on
Dave since he normally does slide solos only to find out it was Tom at the
other end. I.E. He was paying attention well. This time Paul was doing really
exaggerated hand movements to point where the light should go and the operator
still missed them. At several times during the show instead of waiting for
the light to spotlight the soloist, the soloist moved to the light!

I was positioned in between Tom and Paul tonight and it was
very interesting watching them interact during Dave’s songs. It has to be
said it is funny watching the faces Tom pulls as he plays guitar. He is most
unusual as a face pulling guitarist as he tends to let his jaw drop rather
than clench as he bends a note up.

During the 2nd half Paul mentioned the band would go out
and sign things bought at the "mega-stall" after the show. I was
in no rush and had already bought a video so I decided to hang round. The
band appeared within 5 minutes. I have not see a members come out and sign
so quickly. Since I wanted to sit while waiting I let everyone else go first
and therefore was still about as the band left. It was interesting to see
them carrying the own instruments about and even loading their cars. I guess
they approach shows in the Chuck Berry manner.

This appearance was effectively supporting the same album
as last time. (The then Unreleased All Brassed Up) I was therefore surprised
and pleased at how different the set was time. As the band played they seemed
to agree the songs. I don’t think there were set lists on the floor so I wonder
if they do things at will or have a rough set in mind. I have just sat down
and compared the sets and there were only about 8 out of 26 tracks the same.
Newish ones to me that I felt convinced I had heard last time I hadn’t. Apparently
the Acoustic set was being record for Potential use on Wireless 2. That will
be interesting if any tracks are used.

On Take Me To The Red Line Tom McGuiness and Gary Fletcher
Swapper Bass and Guitar. This is made more interesting by the fact Gary is
a Left Hander. Luckily I think he just plays upside done but it was interesting
to see anyway.

One of my favourites of the night was Baby Please Don’t Go.
This surprised me as I don’t normally like the Blues Band doing songs I know
from elsewhere. I loved the Bass Work on this version. Actually another cover
I liked a lot was Walk Of Life the Dire Striaght’s tune in the Acoustic set.

Another thing I noticed about the set is that my favourites
of the night didn’t necessarily come from the first 4 albums like I would
expect. I don’t find the later albums as exciting as the first four but they
clearly still have some great songs on them.

As I was going to the Yes gig the following Day I played
my friend my favourite Blues Band album Brand Loyalty and I was amazed to
notice there is a fair bit of Brass on that album. I am not a fan or Brass
sections and was therefore put off All Brassed up but the songs played from
it previous night were all good. I will have to play the later Blues Band
albums again and see if I am into them more than I expected.

Yes
– Royal Albert Hall – 20 Feb 2000

This was my first time up in the Circle of the Royal Albert
Hall. This is 3 tiers up and I was positioned on the left side of the hall
about mid way back on the 2nd row. I had stupidly bought the Tickets through
the Yes Web Page I believe it would have been better to go direct to the Albert
Hall as usual.

The sound up there was quiet good and if everyone had sat
back in their seats the view would have been good. The guy in my line to the
stage was sadly leaning forward so I didn’t see Steve Howe as much as I would
normally. This is perhaps a good thing as he seems to me to be such a ego
in the band. I can’t tell if he is but he certainly is the main guitarist
still. Billy Sherwood got a couple of solos and a voice part or to but he
was generally pretty forgettable in the far corner from me. He seemed to be
there to play with Chris Squire more than anything. They seem to interact
the most on stage. Jon Anderson and Igor
Khoroshev also seemed to be a pair.

When the show first started it was a favourite of mine, Yours
Is No Disgrace. However as a first number it didn’t work for me. In fact I
thought what am I doing here. I was immediately picking on Igor and Steve
and I was just unmoved. Luckily by the 3rd song I was relaxed and into the
music again. In fact I have to say I liked the sounds Igor was using and although
he still seemed to have lots of spare time in the arrangements, I figured
perhaps Wakeman had that to. Igor can certainly sing better than Rick and
he appears to be able to drums.

I can’t think of
anything to say about Alan White and Jon Anderson was Jon Anderson.

I thought the set list was very good overall. I really like
the Ladder so the addition of those songs works for me. I didn’t really like
the inclusion of “Hearts” which was
different but I got bored of it after while. I also wish they would drop All
Good People. I have never taken to Awaken for some reason so I thing I would
have preferred a different long song but I have no problem with it’s inclusion
tonight. A lot of the set was different to last time. It still had a good
mixture of old and new and I think the keeps the fans keen for each tour.

Overall I was very glad I went. The tickets where very pricey
but I enjoyed the music and found it very interesting being able to see what
Alan and Igor were playing. I would have liked to see what the back projections
were but you had to remember to look at them as they weren’t visible when
viewing the band from my position.

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.

Gary Moore – Cambridge Corn Exchange – 26 March
2000

When I got to the Corn exchange I was very shocked to see
where our seats were. We were UU on the far left and I stunned to see the
stage was about 100m away. The Corn Exchange is a long thin place and I hadn’t
really remembered how long. I must enquire if I need to use a wheelchair to
sit in the disabled bay. Having said this the sound was really clear. I don’t
know if it is because of the style of music or the sound engineer of the venue
but I was very impressed.

The lighting was probably as per the last tour and very effective
despite it’s simplicity.

Gary Moore was again excellent but because I was able to
sit I wasn’t as pumped up as last time. This meant when Gary was extending
the endings I found it a little frustrating.

I was really surprised when he ended the set after about
80 mins. We did however get three encores. So the concert finished after about
1hr 45.

The 2nd from last song really had me confused. It was slow
and I was convinced it was Parisian Walkways played really slowly and with
a different treatment. Walkways itself had a really slow ending and people
just seemed to want to get up and leave. Actually I was rather annoyed with
the audience in the balcony as they were forever going for drinks and to the
loo. Being so far back it was really obvious and distracting.

Gary changed the set this time and he only played one of
the new album, which I found a little disappointing. I guess the album is
a failed experiment to Gary now. Well I am sure he is proud of it but I mean
from a fan acceptance view.

Having seen the concert twice I think I can see why I like
Gary as a guitarist but don’t really get the urge to buy his albums. He is
a great guitarist and I can watch him solo all night but I don’t think the
songs are that great. Having said that I absolutely Love "Still Got the
Blues". I also loved it when Gary worked with Jack Bruce but it is when
Jack was singing I preferred it.

Bob Catley/Native Caine/??? – Chinnery’s Southend-On-Sea-
23 Apr 2000

Mmm
what can I say about this? Well I really wanted to like it but Bob didn’t
come on till around 11pm, which is very late for a UK gig. And especially
for me so perhaps I wasn’t as receptive as I should be.

The
Venue proved harder to find than we expected. It was on the seafront opposite
the big dipper but it wasn’t as decoratively lit as other places so we drove
past it three times looking for it. Inside it was pretty much as the Oval
used to be in Norwich. I reckon there were 150 to 200 at the gig (including
to my surprise an e-friend from Sweden who had got a last minute flight).
The stage was on the long side and the lights simple but effective. The sound
seemed a little too bassy for me during Native Caine but for Bob it was better.

I
didn’t catch who the first band were. I assume someone local.

Native
Caine came on around 10pm and played for a mere 30 mins which was good as
the first band seemed better to me and the crowd didn’t take to them.

Then
it was time for Bob. I really like his voice and friends of mind seem to have
the impression I am a bigger Magnum fan that I actually seem to be. It does
have to be said I did used to over play the first 4 albums as a youngster.
The fact that I have a complete collection though since is more the result
of occasional bursts of interest than dedicated fandom. The last peak of interest
for me was the 1st Hard Rain album. Sadly tonight Bob completely left that
out. The set mainly and understandably consisted of Solo stuff and then Magnum
standards.

I
thought the Tower OK but I really didn’t like the Legends album. This therefore
left me feeling a bit cool about things. When we got to the Magnum stuff the
crowd naturally picked up and so did I. Even though they were playing songs
past my preferred era the songs were such a better standard. I had expected
to like the Solo stuff more in a live context because I feel Bob is buried
in an over produced mix on the albums. The problem still remains though that
the songs are too simple and underwritten to me. I love harmonic melodies
but there are just too many instruments doing the same thing for me.

It
was the last night of the tour and the crowd were a little lethargic so Bob
let himself go. There was lots of hugging of the guitarists as they soloed.
It actually looked like he was wiping the sweat or his noise on them!

At
one point Bob jumped in the crowd. At bit later someone pulled him in. This
bloke then got expelled during the encore. This distraction ruined the calls
for an encore so it was a strange situation whereby the crowd watched the
scuffle and then remembered they wanted an encore. The momentum never really
got going again though and Bob just returned.

It
was an interesting nigh. I am glad I got to see the tour but it would have
been nicer if it was Hard Rain or Magnum. Tony Clarkin is such a better writer
than Ten’s Gary Hughes. And Bob really needs a proper solo band despite his
enthusiasm for Native Caine

This a bit of a negative review but I dare not let my mate add his comments.
He thought Hard Rain was poor songs by a band that could sound like Magnum.
This time he thought Native Caine were doing pub metal versions of melodic
Magnum music and lots of other hard negative views. So we bothered preferred
previous tours. What a shame. I hope for Bob’s sake we are a minority.

Peter Green’s Splinter Group/John Mayall’s Blues
Breakers – Ipswich Regent – 16 May 2000

This was a good night of British Blues. It was effectively two concerts in
one. Both bands played 90-minute sets. The show started 7.35 and ended around
11.10, which was unfortunate for some of the audience as they started to drift
away around 10.30. I assume to catch the last buses or something.

The Peter Green Splinter Group was first on. They were OK but I thought a
bit to laid back for me. Also it is not really Peter’s band. The main man
is the other Guitarist. I almost felt like I was an onlooker at a Victorian
freak show. Peter is clearly not at all there still. I hope he is playing
again now because he wants to and not because he is being used.

He sang most of the Lead Vocals but they weren’t very clear and he was also
asked to talk before one song but it again off the wall and not very clear.
It’s such a shame.

The first encore was Albatross and Peter had next to nothing to do it in
whole piece. He did play a little harmony guitar in places but a lot of the
time he just seemed to be looking for parts to play.

In other songs Peter did take some lead solos and it was good to see. I wonder
if all this touring is helping him to find is old ability. I would like to
hope so.

After a half hour change of John Mayall’s band came on. The first song was
without John and sung by the guitarist who also did another song later one.
This was much more my cup of tea. The first number with John especially. After
a while I noticed the songs were rather drawn out and the early intensity
was lost. I could certainly see why John Mayall was the main band. They were
only a four piece but they were very professional and I got the impression
the Lead guitarist was better than the Splinter group one but I am prepared
to be wrong on this. The Blues Breaker newer songs were better the Splinter
groups ones. I don’t think John Mayall or Peter Green have been writing lately.
I don’t know if John ever has.

John Mayall was clearly very pleased with his musicians and to be on stage
and it was good to see. Especially as the Regent must have been close to capacity.

I initially thought £17.50 was expensive for the tickets but as we had to
full sets I think it was a good value night out. I prefer the Blues band if
I want to see Blues played but this was worth seeing. I don’t think I would
bother going to another town to see them but then I am into to Blues Based
Heavy Rock more than Blues.

Lou Reed – Royal Albert Hall – 18 May 2000

For the first 20 minutes of so I thought this was going to
be a brilliant concert. After a while I realised Lou was going to play most of Ecstasy
which I quite like but isn’t as exiting as some of his stuff. Then it has to be
said I was a little disappointed there weren’t that many standard Lou tracks.
Or even interesting old ones not played for a while.

Lou had asked for suggested songs on the Internet. I would
be interested to see what was suggested. I can’t really believe it was this
set.

Lou was exceptionally slow coming back for the first encore
and pretty slow for the 2nd one. The end result was the gig started at 8.20 and
finished at 22.45 (I hope) As soon as the last note of Perfect Day started I
had to make a dash, as I didn’t think I would get back to Liverpool St in time
for the last train at 11.30. As it happens I did but I used a Taxi and was
lucky to catch one as soon as I got outside. The driver told me the pervious
person had been to the gig and was rather fed up there weren’t many Reed Standards.

It was good to see the interplay with the band. They
obviously get on well together and enjoy playing up to one another. Tony Smith
the drummer is really interesting to watch. He must be one of the most
expressive drummers to watch. He really seems to be into every hit of the drum.
At one point the roadie came behind him and replaced his glasses. I couldn’t
see how often he lost them.

It was a real surprise to see Lou Guitar-less for Ecstasy.
It was also good to see smiling every now and then

I was in the Arena area on one edge about 30m from Lou. I
wouldn’t be surprised if this was the closest I have seen Lou so that was
pleasing.

The Albert Hall seemed reasonably full. It is always hard to
tell as so many of the box sets are owned buy lifers who don’t returned the
tickets when they aren’t interested in the performers.

The sound was pretty much perfect all night except for one
over the top song I could recall knowing some of the lyrics too but not the
tune. I have a feeling it was the end of the main set so I am sure I should
know it.

Several songs seemed to have a different feel or arrangement
to them. Small Town from Songs For Drella was very interesting to hear in a
band format.

Ecstasy was interesting to watch to, as I hadn’t picked up
that the violin type sounds were actually Fernando Saunders playing a Stick
Bass with a bow. He also did a solo that was part of the song and surprised me.

It was a good night and we got value for money a few different songs and I
would have been even happier.

Alarm-2000/Big Country – UEA Norwich – 19 May 2000

I was not looking forward to this one bit. I suffer from M.E. and was suffering
badly from a Lou Reed concert the night before. On top of that the UEA is
a horrid standing only gig. I was only really going because one of my two
"chauffeurs" for gigs wanted me to see what he enjoyed so much.

Prior to the gig, I had heard a lot of gossip about Big Country from him
and a friend in Holland. The band had been performing basically the same set
for years and on the early dates in Germany apparently weren’t enjoying themselves.

Tonight was a completely different story. The set was completely revamped
and the band really seemed to enjoy playing. I expected to know a lot of the
set since I had copied a bootleg for the friend and also recorded stuff off
the Radio for him. Unfortunately for me the revamped set meant much of it
was new to me.

Overall it was a fairly reasonable night out. I drank 1.5 pints of Cider,
which on top of my painkillers helped my endurance and I forced myself to
move to the music to get into it a bit more. I think it did the trick although
I am not looking forward to the next few days on my bed recovering.
I think I preferred Mike Peters Alarm 2000 set musically but most of
the Big Country set was OK. It didn’t get me going but equally it didn’t annoy
me and the time seemed to pass quite quickly.

Alarm 2000 had a lot of lights and dry ice. They didn’t use any dry ice for
Big Country and the lighting wasn’t very bright on the band. Very weird. Big
Country were also a lot quieter.

The two guitarists were very different. Stuart Adamson was quite normal but
did do the occasional hop jump or splits. Bruce Watson was a completely different
character throwing what looked to me like a lot of Punk guitarist posses.
He didn’t seem to get many solos. I didn’t pay much attention to the bass
player and drummer, as they were harder to see from my position. The drummer
must have been tired by the end though as I think he played drums for all
3 bands (I didn’t see the first band but my friend noticed it was him)

The encores bought the set to a nice frenzied ending. Instead of shouting
"More" for one of the encore the crowd starting singing the crowd
part from the previous song. I.e. "Oh no, where did the feeling go 2
3 4". As they were doing this it stuck me the irony of singing this to
a band that were splitting up and supposedly going through the motions in
Germany only a month or so before.

It was a reasonable night out and thinking back I probably enjoyed this gig
more than the Def Leppard the last gig my friend encouraged me to go to.

Blackmore’s Night/Mostly Autumn- Cambridge Corn Exchange
– 24 May 2000

I am not sure what my motive for going to see this was. It
might have been to have a laugh at "that nutter Blackmore" or it
might have been because the music was OK. I had seen a boot video of them
live so I had a rough idea what to expect. I think I pretty much went with
an open mind to see what there was to see really.

To start with there was some bloke playing medieval instruments.
Badly it seemed to me. Not a good start.

Then a three-piece band called Mostly Autumn that I actually quite enjoyed.
One was on flute, one on guitar and one on a large tambourine thing. This
she forgot to bring on stage with her. Again a good start. The music the flute
was playing was very good though and it struck me I ought to try and get some
music of the pieces to give me something I enjoy to play on my Midi Wind Controller.

At about 8.40 Blackmore’s Night returned to the stage (They
had helped the first guy out on one tune). I was quite surprised at how many
musicians they were using. There were two keyboard players. An acoustic bass
guitarist. A Violin and Mandolin player. A drummer. Candice on vocals and
recorders and of course Ritchie on guitar. The first artist also joined the
stage occasionally to help on recorder etc.

Being mainly acoustic in nature it was a fairly quite gig.
And the lighting was very dim. They came on to thunder and lighting, which
was quite effective, but most of the show was spent with only dim lighting
on the band and a spot light on Candice. Very annoying for me as she rubs
me up the wrong way dreadfully. I can’t really identify why. Perhaps she just
seems to feminine or show biz like. I really wanted to find out why they had
two keyboards but I was on the right of theatre, which was Ritchie’s side,
and everyone else was cramped up on the left. It was therefore next to impossible
for me to see what they where doing which was a shame. The violin was an excellent
addition to the band that I don’t recall from the albums. When I heard the
first Blackmore’s Night album I thought it sounded a little computer generated.
The 2nd album seemed better and live the band sound great. Candice can certainly
sing although she seemed out of place on Sixteenth Century Greensleeves. (Which
I am of course used to Ronnie James Dio doing) My friend commented that she
sounded a little like Steve Nicks. Something I had noticed unfortunately.
It didn’t bother me too much tonight though.

After about 1hr I was just starting think that it was getting
a little samey and the people next to me got up and left. This seemed a little
extreme to me, as they both knew what to expect one even had an album. Still
it gave me a little more room to stretch.

Having his girlfriend singing and playing the music he has
wanted to certainly seems to help Ritchie’s temperament. Candice was forever
saying Ritchie Says and eventually she managed to get him to talk direct.
I don’t expect that happens to often. Candice actually made a few quips about
Ritchie being Moody etc and when she introduced "No Second Chance"
she said Ritchie decided tonight it was for all ex-members of Deep Purple
and Rainbow.

Apparently Ritchie was pleased that the audience listening
and appreciative. I don’t know if this was in comparison to other nights on
this tour or Deep Purple Audiences. We got two official encores plus a song
after they shook hands with the audience but didn’t actually leave the stage.
Ritchie spent quite a long time shaking hands, which was nice to see.

Overall we had a good night. The music isn’t to my normal taste but it makes
a good change and is something I can quite get into when out and about. It
was nice to get chance to see the band. I hope net time they manage to do
some Castles. Framlingham would be good setting to me. I certainly respect
Ritchie for bucking the trend and doing what he wants despite what fans and
the press and previous band members might think. Good on him.

Samson/Angel Witch – Astoria 2, London – 26 May
2000

This was an interesting gig to go to originally Praying Mantis
were due to play. Unfortunately they had to pull out leaving Samson and Angel
Witch.  I have always liked Angel
Witch’s albums so I decided I would go despite my extreme fatigue.

More than that since I knew someone in the Samson ring from
negotiations with Mantis etc I decided I would go down and watch the set up.
I have previously seen what Mantis did in Japan so it was interesting to confirm
that all the bands do much the same. They start of setting by setting up the
drums. Then move on to a guitars setting up the basic sound and then any additional
sounds. They gradually go round the band and do the vocal mics and then as
a final check they play a tune or two to set up the on stage monitors and
get the house balance perfect.

The bill was upside down to me. Especially if Mantis had
played as they would have been due on at 7pm or so. Going back down to two
bands allowed the sets to be a bit longer and for Samson to have Thundersticks
Caged up. I think if Mantis had played all bands would have had about 45 mins
instead Angel Witch had about an hour and Samson had about 70 mins.

Angel Witch only had Kevin Heyborne left from the old days
but that didn’t matter. I thought they performed very well and the crowd gave
them a terrific reception. To my surprise Kevin was on the right. The Bass
player in the middle and a 2nd guitarist on the left. I was on the right side
of the stage and I found I struggled to hear the solo by the 2nd guitarist,
which is a shame. The Bass player at a guess seems to be a better vocalist
than Kevin but I am glad he was only used for certain lines and screams. The
set consisted of old and new. I have the new album from the old web site and
I am sorry to say I didn’t really like it. Zoom Club records in the UK have
just officially released it. I am a dinosaur and Angel Witch are at the fastest
end of my musical spectrum so it not a complete surprise I found they had
moved away from my taste band. Of the old songs it wasn’t all the 1st album
material. There were compilation-released tracks such as extermination day
and Baphomet.

Samson came on around 9.15 and as expected they failed to move me. I can’t
tell what it is that makes me indifferent to them but that is how I feel.
I had hoped I would know a few songs because I had the Japanese Metal Crusader
album. Unfortunately I only knew possibly one song from the main set. At least
I knew both tracks from the Encore. They played two brand knew songs the first
of which I quite enjoyed. The 2nd was indifference again though. Also during
this song they had some technical problems with the Nicky Moores mic. First
he was given a new one and then when that failed to he took Paul Samson’s
backing vocal mic. This was then replaced about two songs later. I don’t expect
this help the bands confidence one bit but they persevered and did a good
job of coping.

Towards the end of the set Thundersticks escaped his cage
while Paul Samson did a sort of guitar solo. It’s not a full solo so maybe
it was even a song. Thundersticks who was still masked and in Bondage gear
came to the front in a Grim Reaper type cloak and carried a dolls head. He
then placed it on the mic and proceeded to visually argue with it and throw
beer etc. It made an interesting diversion.

As I said I knew the encore and was pleased to get Tomorrow
Or Yesterday from Metal for Muthas. This is a really good song and I was surprised
it was used as an encore as in Japan it had been in the main set. They finished
the night on Mr Rock’n’Roll, which is a reasonable song. They crowd certainly
enjoyed it.

I probably have a false impression but the impression I got
was that the Angel Witch crowd reaction was stronger than the Samson one.
It is of course hard to judge especially when you are pleased at the crowd
reaction for Angel Witch and progressively more tired for Samson.

It was a very good night for old-fashioned metal fans. I
hope gigs like this at the Astoria can happen again. The Astoria hold probably
up to 500 and I know there were 300 advanced ticket sales with a reasonable
walk up crowd expected to. The Astoria has an excellent PA system and lighting
set up. So it is a good place to play for bands that are of a medium size,
which lets face, it is most of the bands I like now.

I know for sure I won’t feel like going but I have committed
to returning for Saxon tomorrow night.

Saxon – Astoria 2 London – 27 May 2000

What a disaster! I got to the Astoria and for my first gig
entered when the doors opened. There was quite a queue to get in and when
I did all the upstairs seats had gone (except ones behind the glass). For
the first time in the three occasions I have been here the whole of the upstairs
on the upstairs was accessible to everyone. This still didn’t help though.

I therefore went downstairs to the standing area and sat
in a cuppyhole. Went to get my painkillers and oh hell I left them in the
smoke free jeans I was wearing at home when I loaded my pillbox. What to do?
What to do? I decided to ask if I could leave the strictly no readmission
hall to get some painkillers. Unfortunately I had bought a can of Cider and
when I asked Security he wouldn’t even consider letting me out saying I shouldn’t
drink with Painkillers anyway. Which is true but I know what is OK and what
isn’t after all the time. Anyway I cursed to myself decided to go back in
the upstairs area and saw some being let in with a wheelchair.  That must have been murder to get there in London! I asked
the woman who was helping explaining I had M.E. etc. and she said it would
be no problem. I was allowed to go and ask the security again! He was not
impressed and thought I was having them on. I remembered I had my Disabled
badge on me and he said "Sorry you have only just remembered that?"
I said, "Yes". Of course I had I suffer from M.E. and my brain doesn’t
work. Not ideal I this situation! He eventually agreed I would be allowed
in. Luckily I found some Ibrufen and got back in but all the seats had now
gone.

The warm up band (Blaze I think) came on and some cleared.
They were reasonable they struck me as a sort of Attention. I didn’t like
the guitar work but they had keyboards and weren’t that bad.

At 8pm Saxon came on and I have to say they gave a stonking
show even through my pain and fatigue. I ended up standing on one of the seats
leaning against the wall. I had tried standing on the floor but the area got
more and more crowded and I couldn’t handle the pure standing anyway.

So to the gig! The venue was the most packed I have seen
it. I suspect Samson must have had only 350 if the capacity was 500. The place
tonight was heaving. It was also extremely responsive to Saxon. Biff Bifford
is a real pro and knows how to work the crowd. From my position I couldn’t
see too much of the stage just the front foot or so. There was an extra set
of Barriers up tonight where security was between the band and the crowd.

Paul Quinn and Biff seem to be the only originals left. Or at least they
were the ones I remember from the classic era. Paul Quinn was mentioned a
few times but he doesn’t really solo that much. I guess Graham Oliver was
the main lead guitarist. It is certainly his replacement that did most of
them.

There was a good old-fashioned drum solo, which was a bit
to long for my liking. Mind you I couldn’t see the drums so the appeal was
even less tonight than normal.

It is actually a long time since I saw Saxon. Back on the
Strong Arm of the Law tour in 1981 I think. The set has obviously changed
in that time. There were about 4 of the new Metalhead album and one or two
tracks of most of the previous albums. I thought it a good mix of old and
new really. They were also a lot quieter than I remember they used to be.
I seem to recall them being exceptionally loud in the 80’s. Perhaps I am just
deaf now 😉

They left the stage around 9.25 and then did two encores
talking us to the curfew time of 10pm tonight. Boy was I glad they went off
so early it gave me that little extra hope that the end was in sight. Despite
my enjoying the gig I had seriously considered leaving early, as the Ibrufen
wasn’t helping that much. (Co-Proximal being my main aid. Ibrufen just being
on active days to give me the extra boost) I really didn’t want to abandon
the gig though. I had fancied it from when I first heard about it. The only
thing putting me off was it’s timing at the end of the 5 gigs in the previous
10 days. I was here so forced myself to remain.

Saxon compared to the Son Of A Bitch gigs, which have also
been promoted as Saxon was like Night and Day. To me there was no comparison
although it has to be said I preferred the authentic guitar solos in the old
tunes and not the modern style of the new guitarist.

I was pleased to see that Dogs of War was still in the set.
I really liked that album and though it deserved another song really as well.

I expect the majority of the fans had a really good time tonight. I know
Saxon where at a 3,500 festival in Holland the day before so I am not
sure if they had played England recently or not. They certainly seemed to
enjoy doing so and Biff mentioned not to get him started on why there are
no UK festivals lately. I totally agree although I obviously want old time
band festivals not modern Ozzfest type stuff. There surely has to be a market
for something.

Santana – Wembley Arena – 14 June 2000

I booked this one late consequently our tickets were near the back Disabled
section. This makes for a very poor concert. The only other band I had seen
this far back was Kiss and that was OK because they were loud and had video
screen and a great show set up.

Tonight was a big disappointment as the sound was pretty poor and there were
no video screens. Its a long time since I have been to a gig where the vocals
aren’t clear. This was par for the course in the 80’s but I was appalled today.

That a side we got a pretty reasonable concert. The last time I saw Santana
I was amused when 5 minutes before coming on stage the Roadies lit on stage
JossSticks. Also Carlos came on in Moccasins. I was rather stunned at how
little of the set I knew since I had quite a few Santana albums.

This time there were a lot more songs I knew. I must admit I expected a few
more of Supernatural but he did my two favourite Put Your Lights On and Smooth.
The last got the biggest cheer of the night and most people on their feet
(Maria Maris the new single was also popular). It also got a guest apparent
from Rob Thomas the original singer. I must admit I was surprised to see him
as he only sings that song. I wonder how many dates he has appeared at.

After about 1hr we got a bass and drum solo. This then turned into a bass
solo which admittedly was interesting as I hadn’t heard one like it before.
Carlos then asked him to do another song and we got a bass version of Imagine.
To be honest I felt the gig went a bit flat form this point on. We of course
got Black Magic Woman and then Oye Como Va but this two was a bit dragged
out being the last song on the main set.

For the Encore we got Afriaca Bamba and an extremely extended Jingo. Santana’s
band was also joined by the Afriacan sounding support band. I guess this would
be OK if you went for the Rhythm’s but I go to hear Carlos playing. He is
a great guitarist and I would like to have heard a lot more from him.

I guess overall it was a so so concert. If I see him again I will have to
get tickets earlier and hope he isn’t quite so popular so we can see him somewhere
a little better. The Albert Hall would be more ideal.

Lynyrd Skynyrd / Company Of Snakes – Hammersmith Apollo
– 20 June 2000

This was another gig that caused me a few problems but I
am glad I went.

I booked it earlier in the year and I suspect I wasn’t to
bothered. Having said that I got central seats in row 2 upstairs so I suspect
I had my choice of the theatre. A month or so back I suddenly realised I didn’t
know if I had ever booked it. Certainly I had it in my diary but I never received
the tickets. I was in the embarrassing position of having to ring the box
office and ask if I had booked it. I had seen a credit card entry for the
Apollo but I had guessed it was for Rick Wakeman or something. Strange really,
as it was too much and after then. Oh well it is easy to spot with hindsight.

The next problem was my friend that normally drives me to
gigs has got a new job in Cambridge and today had a meeting in Chester and
couldn’t get back in time. I had considered going early and meeting him but
England were playing football and I suspect he preferred to watch that anyway.
I therefore decided to take a London friend and then if the gig was to late
I could crash on his sofa. The gig did go on to late by an encore and since
that is my favourite track, Freebird, and one I have even requested is played
at my funeral there was no way I was going to miss it.

I got to the venue in plenty of time and picked up my duplicate
tickets and on the dot of 7.30 the support band came one. I had no idea who
they were to start with but after the first number, which was OK, they mention
Bernie Marsden. Ah ha! The ex-Whitesnake band. Excellent! I had wanted to
see them. They had Mickey Moody on the other guitar, Neil Murray on Bass (I
wondered what he had done since Cozy Powel’s death and leaving Peter Green’s
Splinter Group) and Don Airy on Keyboards. I didn’t catch who the drummer
or singer were. A very heavy weight support act anyway. I have never really
listened to Whitesnake, as I don’t like David Coverdale’s vocals. To me the
vocalist did a good job of copying him and I thought the set very enjoyable
including a couple of Bad Company song. In a couple of numbers there seemed
to be some strange feedback from the drums or something. Perhaps it was just
bass boom because I was upstairs. I noticed it in Skynyrd to. Snakes played
for 1hr and got the evening of to a good start. I am glad I hadn’t decided
to arrive late with my friend.

So to Lynyrd Skynyrd they came on stage at 9pm and did 90minutes
then Freebird. Their first album to me is absolutely brilliant. After that
though I am a bit in different. This is the reason I was half hearted about
seeing them. I have seen a few videos of them in the 90’s and so I knew it
would be mainly old standards and a few new tracks. I guess overall that is
what we got although I have a feeling some of the old stuff had been varied
a little and we got a medley of tunes early in the set.

The biggest driving factor for me going to see them and buying
the last album was Blackfoot’s Ricky Medlock is now a member. To me he has
almost taken over the band especially compared to videos I have seen. He is
such a charismatic player. I would also guess he gets the most solos. He certainly
started a lot of the songs and normally took the first solo. The others did
their share and it was the original guitarist that did Freebird slide guitar
but they didn’t have half of the stage presence.

People seem to think Edge Of Forever is the best Skynyrd
has produced in years. Perhaps it is but it didn’t grab me greatly. The songs
seemed heavier compared to the rest of the set. They were certainly OK they
just didn’t sparkle quite as much. I guess I would really prefer to see Medlock
doing another solo or Blackfoot album.

It was an excellent night out. I am glad I went. This is
the last gig I have booked until December however I am hoping to see lots
of Praying Mantis between now and then.

Uriah Heep – London Astoria – 15 July 2000

This wasn’t a gig as such. It was a run through for a DVD. I heard about
it from friend on the internet. A slightly modified set list from the last
Heep Tour in 1999 was used as a sound track. Strangely it was from a German
concert so have German intros from Bernie. The lads had mimed to it before
we were allowed in and then around 3pm we the audience was invited in for
a 2nd run through with the crowd and different camera angles. There were only
about 250-300 fans but this is all they wanted. I was on the end of the front
row on the right so slightly to the right of Trevor Boulder. There were about
4 changes of tape but apart from that it was a straight run through. I look
forward to seeing the results and to seeing if I wasted my energy in vain.
It was interesting to be there and we got a free T-shirt for the event as
a souvenir which was nice. Afterwards the band came out and signed CD’s and
posed for photos with the fans so it was a good afternoon all round.

Praying
Mantis – Dean Swift, Dean Cross Street, London – 31 July 2000

It’s been 7 months since Mantis last played live together.
This time it was at the Dean Swift pub again in preparation for the Wacken
Festival. Being Dennis’s local the crowd was very enthusiastic and very full.

Since this was basically warm up practise the band played the
Wacken set twice. Well almost. One song was missing from the 2nd set. Instead
we got Lovers To The Grave done without Tony.

To my non-musical ears it was a faultless performance. I love
hearing these songs live so much that when I hear the studio versions again
I miss the extra little shouts and whammy bar sounds from Dennis. Certainly
I love the Time Tells No Lies tracks with Dennis adding his touch.

The band would have liked to have performed a couple of songs
of Nowhere to Hide. Unfortunately the logistic of getting the band into rehearsal
to work out the arrangements meant they didn’t get time for this one off festival.

Something that struck me tonight that I don’t remember noticing
before is that Tony is a lot more comfortable with UK crowds. For the warm
up dates in the Forever In Time I have a strong recollection of his being
very stationary and apologetic to the crowd that they didn’t know the tunes.
Tonight he didn’t have room to run around or anything but he was being much
more of a front man with his arms and even trying to get the crowd to sings
etc in songs like Rise Up Again. They did sing too. It will be interesting
to see what things are like tomorrow at the Cartoon where the crowd will me
a more unknown quantity.

Praying
Mantis -The Cartoon, London Road, Croydon, 1st August 2000

I have never been to the Cartoon before so I wasn’t sure what
to expect. It is in fact quite a big place that is well lit from the main
road in Croydon. Inside it is probably capable of holding 500. The Bar is
on the long side of a rectangular room and the stage is in the right hand
corner of the other side. Around the edge of the room there are sitting alcoves
and the main floor is separated from the bar area by some steps leading down
to the toilets.

Being so big and not being Dennis’s local the crowd rattled
around a bit but overall they were still quite responsive. I noticed a lot
of people from the previous night and also a lot of friends I had seen at
previous dates.

Tino and Chris play in a covers band called Paddy Goes To Holyhead
when they have they time and the drummer of that band has a son called Ben
Main who is probably 15 by now. Around 9.30 he came on with a three piece
band and played around 30 minutes of Steve Vai type guitar soloing songs.
Normally the bass player of the band is the singer but apparently he was ill
so they had Ben’s guitar tutor on Bass. At the end of the set most people
I spoke to said how good he was and doesn’t it make you sick he can be that
good so young! The style of the music played isn’t quite to my taste but I
thought he did very well. It will be interesting to see what happens with
Ben in the next few years.

Around 10.30 Praying Mantis came on stage and played for 55
minutes. To my surprise I enjoyed this gig about three times as much as the
previous night and that is despite me being a total physical wreck. I think
what did it for me was the fact everyone was on the stage in their normal
place and there was lighting. The lads came on and they all seemed to enjoy
themselves.

Speaking to people after the show most that had seen both nights
seem to have preferred the Dean Swift since there was more crowd in less space.
I must confess I was amazed when they said this, I preferred the band being
all in one watchable place and having room to move about. I guess it is horses
for courses.

The set was the same as the Dean Swift except Lovers To The
Grave was slotted in earlier. It will be interesting to see if they do this
in Wacken. I know a lot of fans still love to hear the Time Tells No Lies
tracks. In fact one person asked me why it is they never do Captured City
now. I don’t know the exact answer but I guess it is down to the band feeling
they have written better stuff in the 90’s and only have limited time in the
set.

Overall I think the set is right for Germany. I would like
to have seen tracks from Nowhere To Hide but I am not sure what I would have
dropped in order to make room even if they had managed to get the songs rehearsed.
In a 45-minute set with songs around 6-7 minutes there is only so many ways
to arrange the set. I am looking forward to Wacken and seeing how the crowd
react. I don’t expect most fans will have heard the last two albums since
they are only just getting releases outside of Japan so a set based around
the classics the TimeTells No Lies, Predator In Disguise and especially A
Cry For The New World is hopefully the way to go. Friday night we will see…

Whoops I almost forgot to mention Yukie Toyomi came over from
Japan for the two UK dates and the band got wind that it was her birthday
so the band gave her a present and sang happy birthday for her. Ko Yamada
also made it from Japan again.

Uriah Heep and ex-Mantis man Bernie Shaw was in the audience
and enjoyed the show. Especially "Turn The Tables" which he was
the first to record.

Praying Mantis – Wacken Open Air Festival
– 10pm 4th August 2000

I was told before the gig that they were expecting about 20,000
fans to the festival this year. Last year it had been about 25,000. I later
heard there might be 30,000 about. I have no idea what is true but it gives
you an idea.

I was also told Overkill on the Black Stage would take most
of Mantis’s audience compared to some of the other bands on the Party and
Wet Stages. I guess it is best to explain there were four stages. The True
Metal stage was the biggest and it was paired with the slightly smaller Black
Metal Stage. Then at Right angles to these two stages and probably 100m back
were the Wet stage and the slightly smaller Party stage.

During the day the Black and Metal stage never had anyone on
at the same time and likewise the Wet and Party. The Black/Metal Stages pretty
much had something on all day until 7pm whereas the Wet/Party normally had
a 15min break between bands.

By 10pm Overkill were the first band on the Black Stage to
get 1hr had been on 1/2. I don’t really recall what they were like, as I wasn’t
paying much attention to them except for the noise irritation. Mantis went
on stage and I thought the predictions were true and Mantis wouldn’t have
much of a crowd. Dennis in true Dennis style started telling the crowd to
get over here and for the other band to "shut up" and the set started.

Mantis played a stormer and within in a couple of songs I thought
the crowd were pretty big. By the end of the set I felt convinced they were
playing to 10,000 or so. The band who had a higher position than me were more
conservative at about 5,000 but the stage was rather large and I can believe
about 75 people wide. It was also a long way back to the sound tower and from
what I could see holding my camera above the crowd it looked liked the crowd
went all the way back. We are definitely agreed though that the crowd grew
throughout the set and about two songs from the end a film crew suddenly showed
up as if something special was happening and it was important to catch it.

The set was slightly shorter than we expected due to a lack
of time. Not only did we not get Lovers, which was expected, but they also
had to drop Letting Go. During Rise Up again Tony and been getting the crowd
to join in and like in the UK he changed the song into Queen’s We Will Rock
You. The crowd responded to this very well and I suspect it was an excellent
move to help the fans that don’t know Mantis get into the show more. It was
certainly great to see such a huge crowd responding so well. I hope the band
managed to convert some new fans with this show. After the show the band were
talking to the editor of one of the main Metal Magazines in Germany and she
was saying this wasn’t a crowd that would really appreciate Mantis so the
great reaction was even more special.

Mantis were the first band to play in the Dark on the Wet Stage
and I have to say the lighting was excellent. I would like to have seen a
spotlight on Tony from the Sound tower and a light on Leon but the general
impression was great.

Mantis got the Royal Hunt Sound man to do the sound and according
to Beaky who was also helping it was crystal clear. Dennis also commented
how clear it had been on stage too. This was because they had good Stereo
separation on Tino’s and Dennis’s guitars.

Dennis’s son Jack had been running round the edge of the stage
encouraging the crowd to clap etc and during one of the songs Tony got him
to sing a line in a song. Then Dennis got him out on the stage and it was
nice to see them showing affection to each other. "Whenever I’m Lost"
on Nowhere To Hide is written by Dennis for Jack. If he feels he has let him
down in the past (my interpreation of the first verse and probably completely
wrong) it seems to have only helped there relatationship now.

All the band were pleased with the performance and how the
crowd grew through out and there were several fans in the Press who came up
and said how good it had been. In fact someone who I didn’t know at all said
"They might as well pull the plugs on all the stages and go home the
Festival has seen the best and nothing can touch it now".

A one line review from me would be "F**king Brilliant.
I wish it could have been a full set"

The band hope to be back next year.

Rick Wakeman – Marlborough – 26 August 2000

Well what a great month August has been for me concert wise. First I saw Praying
Mantis and then tonight Rick Wakeman with as a six Piece band. Possibly with
the exception of Ayreon who don’t play live anyway the best two acts I would
like to see.

Tonight was really great. Marlborough College Memorial is basically a large
lecture hall. I believe it holds about 600 and it was close to capacity. There
were about 12 rows steeply banked in a semi-circle around the Stage.

To my surprised the stage wasn’t in the Wakeman with Wakeman format. Rick was
more centre Stage with the normal bank of 6 keyboards in pairs forming a horseshoe.
He also had a Moog on the right-hand corner. Adam was off to the left and situated
further back.

The guitarist Ant Glynne was on the right and the bass player Lee Pomeroy to
the left. Tony Fernandez on drums was on a riser behind Rick. For the first
time that I can recall he was on his old faithful acoustic drum set and not
on the Electric one he normally uses with Rick. I must admit I think I preferred
this one. I was also interested to spot he plays the drums with one stick up
and one stick down in his hand. I can’t recall seeing too many drummers that
don’t hold them both up. Perhaps it was the type of music I listen to.

The first thing I noticed was that Adam and Tony still enjoy having a laugh
together while playing. Adam and Lee also seemed to enjoy the way Ant was very
much into pulling poses when setting forward to play solos. I wasn’t quite sure
if I liked his playing or not. I was certainly thrown by it during the King
Arthur the first track. As the night wore on I got used to his style and figured
it was probably as Rick told him anyway.

Damian Wilson was on vocals. I know his voice from the Ayreon albums. He has
a very strong voice and I think he is better on the more gentle songs like King
Arthur. I wasn’t as keen on him on the faster vocals. I possibly still prefer
to have had Chrissie Hammond singing but then she is my favourite Rick vocalist.
Damian was pretty spot on all night. I suspect he forgot how Ride Of Your Life
went though and he said something about having another week to learn the songs
better when I was chatting with him after the show. When Damian wasn’t singing
he remained on stage a fair bit standing between Rick and Adam and watching
Rick soloing close up. He seemed as fascinated as us at the master at work.

The set list was excellent three tracks of Return and One of Phantom Power.
I couldn’t believe my ears when Rick said they were going to do something of
Phantom. Phantom is on of my favourite Rick albums and very underrated especially
as it is no longer available. The crowd were pretty indifferent when Rick announced
the track but they certainly responded well at the end. Apparently I have Oscar
Wakeman to thank for The Visit’s inclusion. Rick wanted to do a song he hadn’t
played before and that was Oscar’s favourite.

The set was

King Arthur (Overture, King Arthur, Lancelot) – Very good but much as normal

Never Is A Long Time – I wasn’t sure how well this worked. I was impressed
the guitar did the parts of the Riffs played by the Orchestra quite well. Rick
wore his glasses on all the Return tunes. I can’t recall if they were need for
The Visit too but I find it interesting he isn’t confident of remembering these
new tunes.

Catherine Howard and Aragon – Fairly standard versions to my memory

The Visit – Rick and the Guitarist took turns at solos on this. I thought it
sounded pretty good. Ramon Ramedios was in the audience it might have been interesting
to have him come up on this one. There were some songs on the album where Ashley
Holt (I wonder where what he is doing now), Ramon and Chrissie all sang. I thing
this was just Ashley with Chrissie backing on the album but Ramon might have
joined in on a reprise or something.

Excerpts From Journey – I was pleased not to get the full thing. That was one
of the downers for me of when I saw Rick and the Band before. It is just too
long and I prefer the variety of using the time for more pieces. As it was we
got 15 minutes of the main bits that spring to my mind when I hear the piece.

Set 2

Catherine Parr – On the set list it had Jane Seymour in brackets at the start
but I don’t recall hearing it and I certainly remember thinking during the set
that Rick might do it as first encore with just Adam as accompaniment before
doing a final song with the whole band.

Eleanor Rigby – This was a vocal version again

Buried Alive – I wasn’t too sure how this would sound without Ozzy on vocals
but Damian sounded really good.

1984 Overture/Hymn/Robot Man – I think this was pretty much as the last time
I was the band with Rick and a vocalist.

Merlin – This was a slightly strange version. I couldn’t work out what I was
hearing at the start. It seemed to have a Robot Man feel to it to me. I suspect
my brain was just fudge by this time though and it was probably just a funky
Merlin with a slightly heavier beat. It then went in to the Lyric version of
Merlin. Adam and Rick did their dual again with the two Portable keyboards this
was great to see again.

Starship Trooper – This started with the intro from Heart Of The Sunrise. Again
Adam came out on the Portable keyboard. It was the only real times I could see
what he was doing as Rick’s Moog blocked my line of sight of Adam’s Rig. Rick
was absolutely brilliant at the end of this. I really couldn’t believe how well
he played the Wurm section. And the band really seemed to enjoy playing so fast
so well. Fantastic.

Encore

Jig – To me this was a strange choice for an Encore but then what can you follow
Starship Trooper and Merlin with? Damian went off stage and bought a little
girl from the front row to dance the jig with him, which was nice. When he got
out of puff she wouldn’t continue alone so he had to carry on.

Ride Of Your Life – Again I found this a slightly strange encore piece but
it was good to hear.

There were no real stories tonight. Just 2hr 15-20 of solid music. The Lee
needed a new string on his bass at one point and it took a while to get someone
from the crew to come along and take the bass off stage while he placed his
spare. Ant also broke a string during the encore as well but he got by with
his other guitars.

Oh there was also a bat came flying around during the encore. I think it would
have been more amusing if it had come of during Buried Alive, which was originally
sung by Ozzy Osbourne. However you can understand a bat’s reluctance to show
up during anything associated with Ozzy.

There were several members of the Rick Wakeman list in the crowd and it was
good to meet up with them.

It was a great night out and I look forward to the next time Rick can afford
to get a band together to play. I dearly hope someone in South America Records
Rick for TV or CD releases. We really need a new recording of Rick with and
Band and Vocalist.

Lou Reed – Shepherds Bush Empire – 5 September
2000

The Shepherds Bush Empire is a lovely ornate 1000-1500 seater. It has a standing
area on the floor and two levels of seating which unreserved. The level I
was on was full so I assume the theatre was close to capacity.

My energy reserves have been depleted for so long this summer that tonight
I completely failed to find anything to help me enjoy the gig. This is a damn
shame as I am pretty sure it was better than when I saw Lou at the Albert
Hall earlier this year.

It has to be said I wasn’t that motivated about going though. It was only
because a friend told me I was stupid not to see him in such a small theatre
and the fact a 2nd night was added that I went. I expected the set would be
the same and I have already seen this tour live and in full on TV. I did have
a nagging doubt that it might be slightly different, as I couldn’t work out
why Lou would tour the UK twice on the same tour. I guess it is just a successful
and enjoyable tour to him.

It therefore came as quite a shock to me to discover the way things had changed
Performance wise in the last few months.

The set was quite a bit shorter (it has to me said to my bodies relief which
was clock watching every ten minutes!). Just under two hours. I am sure we
got about 2hr 20 at the Albert. There was only one encore of Vicious and Dirty
Blvd. And I know The Blue Mask was missing as the set closer. I have to say
Set The Twilight Reeling felt a lot more like a closer and when I heard it
and when it was I was pleased.

(When I got home I checked and Vicious was extra but Mad, The Last Shot,
Dime Store Mystery, The Blue Mask, Sweet Jane, Perfect Day were all missing)

I thought Mike Rathke seemed a bit absent tonight. Perhaps I was too tired
to notice him but Lou didn’t seem to pay as much attention to him as I remember
last time. He did get a solo spot at the end of though

I just love watching Tony Thunder Smith on drums. He is so animated. Actually
he kind of reminds me of Animal from the Muppets.

I also love watching Fernando Saunders. He definitely seemed Lou’s main playmate
tonight. He got a couple of feature spots including a rather lengthy one in
Set The Twilight

Lou seemed in a very good mood tonight and he was quite animated at times.
He also made the odd comment. He delivered a lot of lines differently to on
record at least. At a guess different from last time. He also didn’t have
a fag during Ecstasy, which surprised me. I feel sure he did the previous
two times I saw him. He did have one later though. He made us wait 5 minutes
for an encore luckily tonight I didn’t mind as I still had plenty of time
to get home. I wonder why there was no 2nd encore. It was 10pm so perhaps
there was a curfew?

I am still rather amused at the bands love of playing the same not over and
over again as fast a possible. It is rather exciting though and you have to
feel sorry for Tony having to drum so fast so long.

Paranoia Key Of E
Turn To Me
Modern Dance
Ecstasy
Small Town
Future Farmers Of America
Turning Time Around
Romeo Had Juliet
Riptide
Rock Minuet
Mystic Child
Tatters
Set The Twilight Reeling
Encore
Vicious
Dirty Boulevard

Bother! After the house lights had gone up the music came on and the roadies
started to break up the stage. I therefore left for the exit. Apparently there
was then a nod from the wings and the lights went down and Lou came back for
two more songs! I will have to be more cautious in future.

Camel – Waterfront, Norwich – 5 October 2000

To be perfectly honest I was rather dreading this. I had
heard the set could be as long as three hours and it was a standing gig.

At their most exciting I really love Camel but there have
been a lot of tunes in recent years that have been less pacey. These are fine
when I am comfortable but not when I have to stand.

The Waterfront is a long thin venue with lots of posts to
help obscure the view. It is nice and intimate but not the best for seeing
the band. Having said this I liked the lighting it was simple but very effective.
It went very well with the music.

The gig was in 2 halves. The first halve was all electric.
There were only two non-instrumental tracks in the first half and I thought
that good, as it is the vocals are what I find most dreary. Apparently Andy
Latimar normally does the vocals but he had lost his voice earlier in the
tour so Colin Bass was doing them. He could have used a bit more volume in
the mix to my ears.

After an hour they went off for a ten-minute break. The stage
was then set up for an acoustic session. Not only did I loose moment/adrenalin
rush for the break I also had to suffer the worst part for another half hour.
I am sure they were very good versions but too tough going for me. I have
to say though that I really enjoyed Rajaz, which broke the set from acoustic
to electric again.

After about an hour of the 2nd set, the band went off again
and then came back for a 15 minute of so encore. It stopped almost exactly
on 11pm. I don’t know if that was by design. Apparently the set was pretty
much as Europe.

I love watching Andy Latimar on guitar and I thought it interesting
that he plays guitar with such feel and he is a real face puller. In fact
he plays with his whole body. IMO you don’t see enough of this now. Either
the feel or guitarist pulling faces!

I couldn’t see the other too well. The keyboard player seemed
pretty good on the Hammond and all I noticed about Colin Bass was he looks
like a pink version of the Incredible hulk due to his strong eyebrows. Actually
the keyboard player reminded me of Mickey (I think) from the Monkees

Towards the end of the set, which was exactly the pace, and
excitement factor I needed, the keyboard player did vocals. Andy had sung
Rajaz and a couple of acoustic numbers so I guess he was breaking himself
back in gently.

When talking to the audience he had a rather strange manner.
I couldn’t tell if he was just playful, uncomfortable, mad or on something.

I am glad I went, as Camel are a class act. It is not often
they play here so they were worth making the effort. Next time I hope it is
somewhere with seats. I used my walking stick seat but it was uncomfortable
after an hour or so. I think it is 50-50 if I would go again while I am ill.
It would depend on the venue and how keen I am to go to a gig. I am worried
at present I have seen too many this year and the novelty is running out.
Still I have another batch of Praying Mantis and I don’t want to miss those!

Jeff Healey – Norwich UEA – 11 October 2000

For months my mate and I have been trying to work out the newest band I have
ever gone to see live. We have been unable to succeed because so band’s could
have released their first album around 1981/82. Now we have the answer. It
is Jeff Healey in 1989. Almost the 90’s!

Again going into the gig I was far too tired but this time it was more indifference
to the gig. I have Jeff’s first album see the light and the video. I love
it but I can’t say I play it much. Some songs are a bit to soft for me. I
guess to me, he is a bit like Gary Moore a great blues guitarist with mediocre
songs.

Well tonight I enjoyed myself beyond expectation. It was another horrid standing
gig and my stick is so uncomfortable I didn’t want to sit on it but equally
I didn’t want to stand.

Only knowing one album it was again mainly down to getting off on the guitar
solos and their were loads of those so it was great.

I was surprised to see a 2nd guitarist on stage and even more surprised that
he got the first solo in a lot of the songs. He even sang a song but the less
said about that the better. He can sing but I don’t like the style of vocal.
I really enjoyed his guitar playing. Perhaps a fraction more than Jeff which
is interesting. He was another face puller and whereas Jeff wasn’t really.

Most of the set Jeff played sitting down but occasionally he stood with the
guitar on a half laid back stand. Then at the end of the song he would lift
it off and play standing up but still in his unusual hand over the top style.

This in fact was the main thing to watch. He tends to play it like a steel
guitar but with his thumb. I can’t see that that is normal steel guitar style.
He make’s really strange shapes with his hands. I wonder if he can do stuff
others can’t.

Jeff is blind and I found myself wondering about all the problems it must
cause for him on stage. He can never be sure when people have spotted his
signals. No set list on the floor to my knowledge at least. You can’t see
if the crowd are responding well but quietly or if they are bored. He is a
credit to people overcoming their disabilities. He was quick to pick up Norwich
was a quiet polite crowd vastly different to Glasgow the night before.

The set was about 1hr 40 with the encore and I was pleased to find he did
more of See The Light than I expected considering it was his first album.

The bass player and drummer were fine as usual.

I am glad another gig is out of the way (I must do something about this attitude)
and that I enjoyed it more than anticipated. Oh and I hated the support act.
It was dreary acoustic guitar strumming by a solo player.I believe he was
Alex Lloyd. I am surprised it didn’t put everyone in a coma. This week I got
a Mantis bonus track about the death of the guitarists daughter at birth and
this is such a good bouncy track to listen to despite the tricky subject matter
and it dealt with excellently. I guess some people like their music for different
reasons to me. It is definitely the excitement factor I get off on most.

Hawkwind – 21 Oct 2000 – Brixton Academy

Hawkwind were the third band I ever saw live. It was 20 years and 6 days
ago and I still remember how I really hated the gig. I found it really boring
with so called music that was full of Grasshopper effects and stuff. Since
then my opinion has changed slightly. My old boss at work was into them and
one day I borrowed a tape of Levitation (The tour I hated was promoting it)
and another album from him. I was surprised to find the 10 years on I quite
got into it.

Therefore when I heard of this Hawkwind reunion gig I quite fancied going.
I didn’t however get up enough enthusiasm as I had never been to Brixton Academy
and I knew it would be a late gig.

Then one day my old boss said he had tickets for it and did I want to join
him, as his wife wasn’t into them. I still didn’t decide to go. I was thinking
about it for weeks and then after a busy week he offered them to me again.
I was in serious rest mode and dreading the idea of a standing gig but I felt
like rebelling on my body and going for it so I did.

I am glad I did as I quite enjoyed it and it was certainly a good event.

The trains did there best to get me to the gig late so I arrived stressed
out but it was nice to meet someone from work again after almost 7 years of
being ill.

My ex-boss said he didn’t mind if he wasn’t standing downstairs so when we
arrived we had a word with security and to my relief they allowed us into
the free seating Balcony. We had missed the support act but we didn’t mind
and still managed to get very good seats 4 rows back. For some reason the
first two were marked off with red tape.

The Academy is pretty much an old style English theatre probably holding
1500 people. It is quite strange inside in that it has what looks like an
old building where the stage is. The edges come out to meet the balcony and
above the stage in the middle is a two person wide balcony. I don’t know if
this is all false or if the Academy was built on the front of an old building.
It was interesting anyway.

Hawkwind were due on at 22.30 but the queues to get in around this time were
quite big so I wasn’t to surprised when they took to the stage around 22.45.
There were lots of spaces in the crowd at this time. By the time the band
left the stage at 02.15 (Yes that is correct 3.30mins non stop!) the balcony
was totally full.

The people near to us were all smoking the funny stuff and I have to confess
I had hoped for that as I am convinced I can get through a gig better when
the air is polluted with these fumes. I can’t see why the fatigue subsides
but I am convinced it does. I also have to say I was feeling sick at various
points during the gig. I have a feeling it was the petrol fumes from someone’s
petrol cigarette lighter. But of course it could have been the passive smoking.

Anyway I was in a relaxed state and up for the gig. Hawkwind came with the
first set of I guess at least 20 members past and present of the band. The
music struck me as being prototype trance/rave music but of course heavier.
I only have a couple of Hawkwind albums so I didn’t know much of it but I
could get off on the hypnotic rhythms and stuff. Also every couple of songs
fire-eaters or dancers came out to baffle me. The dancers were reasonable
but not always in sync with each other. The fire-eaters did the same basic
things over and over.

Because I didn’t know the stuff a lot of times the music started with a slow
starting prelude that took ages to build up. Some times it did and sometime
apparently it was the whole song. I am afraid I tend to be thinking come on
get on with the music but a couple of times during the night I really enjoyed
the build ups.

I couldn’t tell who most of the musicians were and often a song started with
some dialogue. One of the singers came on dressed up in some weird clothes.
But he was completely outdone but the Sax/flute player who came of in a spiky
costume with small holes for his eyes and mouth. Very weird.

The lights were very hypnotic and rave/psychedelic like in nature. I found
the use of the strobe a pain as I am very photosensitive but I still enjoyed
them.

What I have thought of, as grasshopper effects are really 1970’s BBC Radiophonic
workshop sound effects the sort of think you might hear in Dr Who. Lots of
bubbling oscillator? noises etc. I don’t really no how they are all created.
The were about 4 keyboards sections on the stage and even when I was watching
hard the sounds didn’t all seem to be played as such.

There were incredible amounts of dry ice in use and by the time Motorhead’s
Lemmy rejoined his old band mates on stage with 90mins to go I noticed that
upstairs at least the smoke was so thick you struggled to see even half the
crowd. Luckily it cleared a bit after that.

The overall stage lighting was very dim i.e. so the moving lights etc were
more effective. It did mean it was harder to see who was doing what though.

I was disgusted to see Sam Fox the ex-page 3 model come on a sing I think
Masters of the Universe and then again on Silver Machine. The last thing I
want to admit is having seen someone with as little street creditability as
her sing live. She might be OK as a singer for all I know but I am not into
fluffy pop and she didn’t appear to be singing in key tonight.

I figured the show was ending on Silver Machine but they did another song
I didn’t recognise after that. Then they disappeared

The sax player obviously hadn’t had enough though as about five minutes later
he returned and started playing the Pink Panther theme to whatever the after
gig music was. Very weird! A guitarist did come out and joined him but none
of the others were interested so he gave up said goodbye and that was that.
The music of the night was due to go on to 6am but my friend wasn’t bothered
about seeing it and I had certainly had enough by then.

I have to say I found it really funny how many people were sleeping during
the early parts of the show. I think at least 4 people were sleeping near
me. They all woke up in time for Lemmy’s appearance and then proceed to get
into things again. My friend had told me people had been planning to meet
in a pub around 3pm so I am not surprised they didn’t last but you would think
they would want to watch the main act in full.

Overall it was a very good night out and definitely an usual gig experience

Praying Mantis – 31 October 2000 – The Cartoon, Croydon

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Praying Mantis – 2 November 2000 – Dean Swift, London

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Praying Mantis – November 4th, 2000 – The Gods Festival Maximes, Wigan

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Rick Wakeman – Spa Pavilion Felixstowe – 5 November 2000

This was the 2nd leg of a tour I had already seen 3 dates of. Originally
there were no nearby dates so I wasn’t going to bother with this leg. Then
about 2 weeks ago this show at Felixstowe was added in. "Oh no"
I thought. This is really going to push the attendance figures. Rick had already
played the theatre on the first leg of the tour and despite there being only
3 weeks of sales they managed about 500-600 people. Surely people that saw
that tour would be disappointed if they come again and see exactly the same
thing. I was also worried how many would bother after all they can’t all
be as keen as me. Then I looked at the date and worse still it was the night
after I was in Wigan with Praying Mantis. I would be a total wreck. Still
Rick was playing a local theatre and I want him to do so again so I made the
effort and this time got mum to drive me. She had already seen this tour once
so I wondered what she would make of it.

With trains delays, floods and storms I wondered if I would get back from
Wigan in time. Thankfully the predicted worst storm for 100 years was either
late or just not that bad and I got hope with time to spare. I dare not rest
though in case I went into a crash (I find as long as I can keep the adrenaline
flowing I can keep pushing. Resting for as little as 15 mins can set me into
decline and it is just beyond my endurance to start pushing again.)

Around 7pm the weather was definitely bad and when we got to the coast it
was great watching the rough sea. We parked up and the wind was so strong
it was hard to walk straight. With suspected poor ticket sales and bad weather
I wondered if the gig would be on. We got inside and I was pleased to see
it was.

The last time Rick played Felixstowe he it was a few weeks into the tour
and Rick looked very tired. I was therefore stunned to see Rick was in great
shape tonight and he played a really special show. He had changed almost all
of the stories and even mucked about with the set on the spur of the moment.
It was truly worth the effort and fatigue.

The crowd as I predicted was very disappointing 300-400 I would guess. But
they all seem to enjoy the gig and my mum comment Rick had played a lot better
than when she saw him in Sudbury.

Rick came on for the first set half way through Pachebel as usual and then
joined in with it. Then instead of saying how he wanted us to pause for thought
for all the suffering e.g. young children being made to watch him. He came
off stage and selected four of the audience. In fact he had a close call as
he almost selected the lady he choosen last time for holding the Pedal in
Merlin. I spoke to her later and said she must be a glutton for punishment
and apparently she was as she had the same seat as last time. Any way he chooses
someone a couple of seats from her and a couple from my row and someone else.
He then said he had done a function the week before for Transsexuals, homosexuals
and lesbians that liked to have sex with the pets and that he would like to
apologise to these people as they were now going to see a second show in a
week!

Instead of Birdman of Alcatraz were got After The Ball tonight. This was
a nice surprise for me and mum really enjoyed that one. I don’t know why
she didn’t like Birdman though I think both are great.

It was then the story of his Granny at the Albert Hall performance Journey.
She had refused to move seats to allow Peter Sellers to sit with his wife.

He followed this naturally enough with The Recollection and Dance of a Thousand
Lights. Which were 2nd set songs last time. Recollection also had drums on
it. A bit like the ones of softsword actually (Timpani?). I assume this was
a backing track. I can’t see Rick being able to generate them but I wasn’t
really looking. I have to say I thought they really helped the piece though.

We got a quick story about Cilla Black in Pantomime followed by the usual
intro to Seasons Of Change from Prelude To A Century. Then a David Beckham
joke. Apparently he has started doing after dinner speeches (which people
found amusing enough as he doesn’t have a reputation for being too bright).
We then got a short intro to Jane Seymour. Just the fact he wanted to play
it years ago but it’s only recently technology allowed him to get the sounds.
The first half ended on the Nursery Rhyme Concerto.

The 2nd half started with Rick saying there was more rain in his dressing
room that outside. He therefore came on stage in a workman’s hat and coat.
He started to tell the story of how Elgin Mansions got named and tried to
take the coat of and completely failed for about 60 seconds much to the crowd’s
amusement. Apparently it was unintentional. He finished the story and then
played it apparently for the first time in years. I doubt it was true though.
He certainly played it well. I wonder if he likes playing these tunes for
his own amusement at home.

Catherine Howard and Catherine Of Aragon followed a couple of Jokes from
Countdown. Then the Norman Wisdom intro to Children Of Chernobyl. You know
he never tells these stories in exactly the same way. I am aware of bits missing
or bits I haven’t heard before.

Next was a story about after show signing sessions. One mother and daughter
wanted signatures and the daughter told her mother to ask Rick something and
she was scared to. It turned out Rick had signed her knickers and the mother
wanted it done again. Rick agreed and expecting her to have some in her bag.
No she just dropped her Jeans. A pair of old ladies were then heard to say,
"We don’t have to do that do we?"

And You and I and Wondrous Stories followed this supposedly because it was
Jon Anderson’s birthday the previous week.

The Set closed with the usual Help/Eleanor Rigby combination.

For the encore Rick played Angels From The Realms Of Glory from the new Christmas
Variations album. This was after another funny but worrying story. The CD’s
came back from the factory in time for the November release but they have
the wrong barcode on them. He said it reads 2KG of Persil. This means his
Xmas disc has now been delayed and gets a February release next year 🙁 Poor
Rick

So overall a lot of variation from Rick and a very good night.

After the gig I made a point of remembering to ask Rick directly how he gets
the secondary sounds to work on the "Piano". It is down to key pressure.
Apparently there are 8 levels of key depression and you can assign sounds
or commands to each level. It is obviously very hard to master this technique.

Praying Mantis – Dean Swift – Nov 21 2000

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Praying Mantis – London Astoria 2 – 22 Nov 2000

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Status Quo – 6 December 2000 – Ipswich Regent

It was nice to have a gig in Ipswich again. I wasn’t to inspired and a bit
annoyed that it was now the start of 3 gigs in 10 days but nevertheless I
was in reasonable shape for the gig.

It was my mate’s birthday so we had a quick drink and then decided to take
in the support act Two-timers. Bad move but an interesting format for a duo.
A man on guitar and Bass drum. A woman on vocals, harmonica and drums. It
was a sort of Bluesy set which I should have liked but they really rubbed
me up the wrong way. They were a bit loud to and it went through me. Given
the amount of Amps on stage I was worried Quo would be even louder. Luckily
they weren’t.

Before Quo came on I was impressed to see they had a reasonable stage set.
I had almost forgotten the days when bands did that. And then Quo came on
and I must admit it made me think back to the days of the 80’s when loads
of Metal bands were coming to Ipswich with good stage sets.

Amusingly I had written to the local newspaper and complained a) the local
theatres weren’t booking bands and b) the local paper wasn’t covering them.
Not only did they print the letter they went to the archives and pulled out
some pictures of the bands I mentions and they seem to have been reviewing
gigs and quite often adding a photo since. So for the first time in ages there
was a telephoto camera taking pictures during the first couple of numbers.

Quo came on and were much better than I hoped for really. Well until the
encore. The main set was full of numbers for what Rossi called the Hard Core
fans. I.e. Pre-1980 tunes. The encore was quite long and full of the horrid
cover tunes I had been dreading before the gig.

It was interesting to see the roles of the band members. Quo is mainly Rossi
and Parfitt now. They had a new drummer and keyboard player this tour and
the bass was played by Tom (I think) who is still the young upstart to me
that replaced Alan Lancaster. He is a strange character. He just doesn’t seem
to fit in with the band too me. He has short hair and just seems uncomfortable
doing the Quo posses. There were a lot of Quo fan club members there and they
seem to like him so I guess he is Ok.

I was really surprised how laid-back Parfitt is. He does a reasonable amount
of vocals but he doesn’t seem to play lead guitar at all. It was nearly always
Rossi and he is a real character. Nearly all the way through the show when
he wasn’t singing he was talking to the fans while playing. It was quite amusing
to watch.

If they had stopped before the encore I would have said it was a pretty good
gig. The encore was just horrid though.

Uriah Heep – Mermaid Theatre – 9 December 2000

The 2nd DVD filming session this year! This time it was a full live performance
for the Acoustically Driven Heep release.

It was a hard set for me to appreciate, as the bulk of it was stuff I hadn’t
heard before. I am not to experienced on unplugged sets either.

The band had a lot of support tonight. An extra percussionist. He also played
a bagpipe type thing I think called Uillean Pipes. A steel guitar player.
3 back up singers. One who played flute too. 3 violin or viola players and
one Cello. Jethro Tull’s Ian Anderson joined the on flute for two songs too.
And Pip Williams (who will mix the resulting album joined on acoustic guitar
for Black Lady.

I was a bit worried about the sound on the first number as this sounded distinctly
country. Not my favourite style. Things improved though.

One of my favourites of the night was Golden Palace of Sonic Origami. This
was very effective. Once Ian Anderson came on for his two numbers I noticed
how static everything was and there was very little interaction between the
band. Ian being Ian the mad Flautist he couldn’t stand still and he kept playing
to all four members at the front of the stage. Anyone that reads my reviews
will be aware I like to see band interaction. I also think it helps the band
members relax and the crowd going more. Again that was my perception tonight.

Speaking of crowd interaction one of the fans was very keen (Actually there
were two others from Finland too) and he kept on clapping. This is fine when
it is to the beat but from my position 10 feet away he was distinctly late
and often went on when the music demanded a pause. There were one or two people
near me wishing someone would tell him to shut up. I hope he can’t be heard
of the recording.

The first three songs weren’t recorded to well so they decided to do them
again at the end of the set. It was interesting to see how much more the crowd
and me for that matter where into the 2nd performances. Again I got the impression
it reflected on the band. They ended up playing about 6 tunes again overall.

Just before Ian Anderson left after his two numbers he announced Sonic Origami
had gone silver having sold 50,000 units. The band were then presented with
the discs. I was curious as to who they would get him off the stage. His numbers
were definitely the best for me.

Bernie who is my main interest in Heep performed very well. Phil Larzon was
also very good. I couldn’t physically see what Mick Box was doing and I was
very disappointed how little he seemed to do. There were no real solos and
the Steel guitar often got more than Mick. This was my biggest disappointment.
As usual I didn’t really pay that much attended to Drums and Bass. Bernie
seemed to miss singing some of the lines taken by the chorus and he was clearly
singing them with the mic. I thought the string section were used quite well
and enjoyed a lot of the touches from the Percussionist.

It was a good night. I look forward to getting the DVD and I guess seeing
the premier on a big screen

Rick Wakeman – Winter Gardens, Ventnor, Isle Of Wight – 15 December
2000

See my Wakeman Picture
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