Wakeman and the English Rock Ensemble - Live in Buenos Aires
A brilliant incarnation of the English Rock Ensemble with Rick Wakeman which took place at the Gran Rex Theatre, Buenos Aires, Argentina. Somewhere where Rick hadn't played before - hence its filming. Many of the classics are performed to this large South American crowd including Merlin the Magician, Journey to the Centre of the Earth, 1984 and Yes's 'Starship Trooper'.
The sound quality ond musicianship is exceptional and guitarist Ant Gwynne shines throughout - it's sad to think how ill he is now. Vocalist, Damien Wilson - who resembles Bono circa 1985 is one hell of a tenor as well. An all round brilliant gig will be enjoyed by Wakeman fans everywhere if they purchase this DVD.
Also included is an interview with the man himself called 'Behind the Music' where Rick talks about where the idea of the gig and tour came from as well as a look back on why he became a musician in the first place plus a few stories from his successful career. This is intercut with clips from the Buenos Aires gig as well as one from Melbourne, Australia in the early 70's (that's also reviewed in full).
If that isn't enough for you, then you are also treated to 'Live at Ronnie Scotts' - The Official Bootleg' that captures a rare line-up of the Rick Wakeman and the English Rock Ensemble that took place in Birmingham, July, 1987. Although the sound quality is a bit muggy and comes across like an audience recording concieved in a large spacious venue what's on offer is rather unbeatable like the funky version (with elaborate Wakeman) of The Rolling Stones 'Paint it Black' or rarer moments like 'Lure of the Wild', 'After Prayers' as well as familiar sounds like 'Extracts from King Arthur...' and 'Starship Trooper'. Well worth the spin around the laser.
Very good value for money.
By Glenn Milligan, BA Hons CS
Rick Wakeman - Journey To The Centre Of The Earth
(Classic Pictures - 2001)
Back to the 70's for this one - February 4th 1975 to be exact, and we join the crowd at the Sydney Myer Music Bowl in Melbourne, Australia - a sold out gig at that. The event was televised and quite an array of production members there are. You don't have to sit through the usual opening credits either because these are instead an edit of separate bits of footage showing you exactly who these guys are and what their role is - I like it.
Alongside a young Rick Wakeman are the Melbourne Philharmonic Orchestra, conducted by Verdon Williams as well as a full choral section and his backing band. Oh and not forgetting the two blow-up dinosaurs - one at each side of the gigantic stage. With incredibly long golden hair and white wizard costume Rick does us pommies proud with a faultless full rendition of 'Journey to the Centre of the Earth' coming complete with narration from Terry Taplin - who's sat in his huge wicker chair talking to us when the time is right.
With regard to lighting, the concert is very impressive and rather bright I may add. Then you have to consider the duplicate screen effects that only the view at home can see. Throughout the performance are two male tenor vocalists, Guy Pickford Hopkins and Ashley Holt who seem to fancy themselves as a cross between Paul Rodgers and Ian Gillan - these are 1st class singers that are a sheer joy to take in.
The 94 minute performance also features a few of Henry VIII's wives like Anne Boleyn and Catherine Parr who are placed before and after the Journey performance. Wish I had been there.
We also get an audio version of the gig as well.
Glenn Milligan, BA Hons CS
Rick Wakeman - The Legend Live in Concert 2000
Rick's a real character and a half as well as being an immensely talented musician. At this sold-out performance at Marlborough College he not only mesmerizes the crowd with his complex compositions like Catherine Howard coupled alongside Catherine of Aragon (from The Six Wives of Henry VIII) and Merlin the Magician (from 'King Arthur and the Nights of the Round Table') but also has them in stitches with wild 'n' crazy stories like the one about the old Wurlitzer covered in lights or the one about the Vicar who didn't want a fee for the use of his church organ.
Magnificent stuff this is and with extra studio tracks like 'Morning has broken' it's well worth buying. Also included is extensive gallery dating back to his childhood and a rather brilliant biography as well.
By Glenn Milligan, BA Hons CS