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This was a very interesting gig for me, Rick Wakeman was playing with a full band which always makes it a special night but I have now done several of these one of Wakey gigs and I am starting to know an awful lot of people.

Not all the photos on this page are mine.
This one and some others were by Maria.

It was an over night stay and my hotel was a lot further away from the venue than I expected. It was also too close for me to get a taxi so I had to force myself to walk. I was lead to believe there was a pub selling food on the way so I expected it to break the hike for me. I had tried about 3 places before I finally found one that was serving food and then I noticed Tony Fernandez buying a drink. I had sent him some clips of himself with Rick on TV from over the years after the last gig so he thanked me and invited me to sit with him. By then Adam, Ant and Lee had all appeared too. There was another face I recognised but couldn’t place and then half way through the meal I realised it was Dave Cousins. I didn’t speak to him but it was nice having a chat with the others.

I then wondered the remaining thankfully short distance to the gig (If I got to a gig there again I will stay there in future). And I recognised a lady I couldn’t place. While I was still thinking about that Chris Berry his wife said
“hello” so I stayed with them for the gig. I think I was talkative and a bit flippant so it must have been the cider affecting me. I hope it was understood I was playful not rude. Anyway we handed in our tickets and the lady
said “Hello Jon” now I was embarrassed. I clearly should remember who she was. I bluffed my way along and then finally I got a clue when she mentioned Rosie from Holland and said she was looking forward to receiving my review of the gig. I then remembered she was the lady who does www.damianwilson.com (Damian’s official site is now www.damian-wilson.net.) She was with Damian’s mum and dad again and after the gig kindly drove me back to the hotel. Damian’s dad was surprisingly knowledgeable about my recent shoulder operation so I had stories of how to put my dislocated shoulder back in on the way. Hopefully that is a thing of the past now but I am still scared to death by certain arm movements and tales of reductions!

We then went into the venue and had a chat wth Mike Holden who wasn’t in a rush for a change. I also had a quick chat with Derek? from Marlborough. I really must try and remember your name! There was talk of bringing the start forward to 7.30 and the lights went down about 7.35. But nothing happened till about 8pm the scheduled time. It was most perplexing and there were several signals to the mixing desk that could have been “OK we are ready to go”.

Martin Hudson of the Classic Rock Society came on and welcomed us and then introduced Rick and Dave Cousins. They performed an excellent three song set and because of its newness to my ears this was the highlight of my night. Glimpse Of Heaven was first with Rick of course on Keyboards (what else?) and Dave acoustic guitar and vocals. During this he managed to break a string. Rick therefore decided to go off and get another guitar for him and came back with a broom. Rick disappeared again and Dave said words to the effect “Rick always leaves me on stage feeling like a lemming and now I have a broom too” Rick then reappeared with Ant’s Acoustic guitar. Dave then couldn’t work out how to get the volume on, which caused more jokes and eventually a roadie to sort him out.

Rick used the moog on the next one. I knew it but can’t recall it’s name but it contains the line “They lay together in the long grass making sweet talk.”

There was a story from Dave about Rick turning up for a session a bit worse the wear for drink. He asked that the lights should be turned out and then he would say record and start playing they could then turn the lights back on. They turned the lights out and they heard some rustling and then “record”. They turned the lights on and there was Rick playing naked as the day he was born. This he found very funny. He sheepishly got dressed and every in the control room took off their clothes so when he went up for playback he was the only one dressed.

They finished with the Hangman and the Papist. Tony Fernandez joined them for this. And excellent it was too!

It was straight into Troy Donockley and Nick Holland. Troy told us he was going to play Uilleann Pipes and we could think of them as a 500 year old mini moog. The first piece was quite fast. Then Mr Holland sang the next one while Troy played a low Whistle. The final tune was on Uilleann pipes again and was a classic piece that Chris Berry will name for you.

I am not 100% sure I like Uilleann pipes but it was a nice mini set.

Next up was a short gap and then John Wetton. The less said by me on this the better. He certainly didn’t warm me up for the main act. It was dreary acoustic performances of 3 songs. I knew the last song from my only Asia album but this version was so depressing and definitely not to my tastes.

The sound at this point had been very biased to the right speaker. Luckily in the gap before Rick they sorted this out.

At about 9.15pm Martin Hudson came back on and talked about the 10 years of Classic Rock Society. He had good go at the fact a lot of fans didn’t want to join the society. While I understand it is frustrating for him I don’t think it won him any friends amongst those he was trying to get to join. If anything the reaction I got from people was it was just annoying and perhaps even Alienating. 

There was a raffle and then it was time for the main event. And what a cracking
show it was!

The hall was a typical English school assembly hall. It was about 50 feet wide
and I guess 80 feet long. There was no sign of advertising so I guess it had
sold out.

For a school hall it was an amazingly good presentation. Rick had subtle dry
Ice most of the show and the lights were really effective.

Adam was brought forward to Rick’s level which is unusual for recent times.
Overall the set up was very symmetrical. Tony and Damian were in the middle.
Ant was on the far right although he often went to the centre for solos. Lee
was on the left and even plays his bass left-handed!

The band are really interacting well with each other Lee in particular seemed
really up for exchanging smiles with anyone that was looking. I had an usually
good view of Tony and it was fascinating watching the faces he pulls as he plays
in general but especially when trying to put someone off.

For the first time in years Rick wore a cape for a UK performance. I thought
it might only be for the first song but he kept it on all night except when
he played the keytar.

The set seems to have been shuffled. So tonight after the return intro tape
we went straight into Journey To The Centre Of The Earth.

Never Is A Long, Long Time was preceded by Rick introducing Lee. He claimed
Lee was the best bass player he had played with. Lee then paid him. Rick then
looked how much and then he corrected himself and said 3rd best.

Before King Arthur Rick introduced Tony Fernandez and then unusually he got
a drum solo for the intro.

The Visit was next and was good fun as usual. Ant got his intro before this
and Rick said how he had got all his hair cut off while in Canada.

Next Rick introduced Adam with his golliwog hair and claimed that the day before
a child had gone up to Adam asked if he was a tramp.

Merlin the Magician had the usual Keytar dual between Rick and Adam. Adam is
a lot better at showing us what he is doing than Rick. At first I thought it
was because Rick was facing left and therefore his hand is to the back of the
stage but even when Rick is alone and playing he still tended to be less visible.
Perhaps it is because of the Lead. Rick still end up wondering off into the
audience and then as he returned he grabbed someone to be his keyboard stand
for the final frantic section. Unusually Rick did this back on stage so everyone
got a good view. Previous it has been in the crowd.

No Earthly Connection was next.

This was followed by Catherine Parr, which seems to be a favourite of Rick’s
whenever he and Tony are playing in a band set up. Rick actually mentioned how
Tony had heard what the song would be for his audition so he had learned it.
Unfortunately Rick had heard that Tony had heard it so he changed the song and
Tony’s face was a picture. He still played well though and hence got the job.

To end the main set they played Starship trooper. Adam was on Keytar again
and I think he briefly came into the audience but I could be wrong. He certainly
went and stood on top of the left hand speakers. Ant felt jealous so he went
and joined him. Adam returned to his keyboards and Ant then wondered into the
crowd. Damian as at previous gigs had gone off into the audience and I had completely
forgotten about him until I heard someone shouting behind me and he suddenly
burst through encouraging people to clap on his way back to the stage.

They did two separate tracks in the encore, which is unusual for Rick in a
solo setting at least.

First it was Buried Alive and then to finish it was Eleanor Rigby with Damian
singing and a nice three way exchange of solos between Rick, Adam and Ant on
acoustic guitar.

The sound tonight was excellent from my central position. Occasionally one
of Rick’s keyboards was a little lost but most of the time everything was quite
clear. I was quite surprised actually as the speakers were sat on the floor
to the front of the stage rather than on it.

Tonight’s gig was standing and if I had been fit and well I suspect it would
have made nice change. Having to stand though was an absolute killer for me
and to be honest I was really struggling to keep surviving after Starship Trooper.
I also found trains from Ipswich to Rotherham a lot of hassle on a Saturday.
It is not and easy route and on Sundays it is even worse so I am not sure
I would want to go there again which is a shame as the Classic Rock Society
has some good gigs. I am not sure I would even make the effort to see a standard
Rick gig there again. I suspect it would depend how long it was since I last
had my fix of Rick with band. It was an excellent but extremely tiring night.
I am thoroughly glad I made the effort and it was good to see Rick and the band
with a professional presentation. It is funny I probably think this is the best
gig I have seen in ages most times I see Rick with the band but once I start
thinking about it is probably only since the previous gig. I guess Fowey was
slightly disappointing for me so it is definitely best band gig since Marlborough
and I feel the band are performing a lot better as a group since then.

After the show I meet more people Charles Farrell from Powerplay magazine spotted
me and again put my memory to shame by reminding me we had meet at a Praying
Mantis gig. Chris someone that I had meet at a Mostly Autumn gig also came and
said hello.

Then over breakfast the next day I did my customary thing of asking the only
other person in the room how and why they had ended up in the same hotel and
it turned out Maria had been to the gig and enjoyed it too. It also emerged
she had come from Braintree which is where I last saw Rick. For some reason
I mentioned I got there by train and that I it was pain going back on a Sunday
and she offered me a lift since Braintree is near Ipswich. I thought I might
as well have the company and it would save me hanging round so I meet and made
friends with yet another Wakeman fan. We are clearly a very friendly group of
people.