Rick Wakeman, April 15th 2001
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
By Soren Lemche and Renato Menezes (The Soundchaser Project)
Great Rick Wakeman show, just came home and the sound is still there. Track
List: Journey (20:00 min) King Arthur (12:00 min), at a very high energy
jam-like instrumentation. One song from Return To The Center of the Earth
and the show moved into Henry VIII tunes (2 tunes here). Then we were
treated with "Phantom" from the new album, and back to King Arthur (Merlin
The Magician) and the No Earthly Connection album. Again another tune from
the Henry VIII album (Catherine Parr)and Starship Trooper at the "finale".
Encores with another new tune and finally "Eleanor Rigby" from the Tribute
to Beatles album. The last 3 tunes came out pretty distorted. The band is
pretty unknown to me BUT it was an immense pleasure to see a young bass
player (Potomini ?) and the fantastic drummer Mr. Antonio Fernandes, plus
Wakeman and Son. Won't comment on the vocal and the guitar player (seems to
have been recruited from some Heavy Metal outfit !). All in all a great
show and worth the U$ 25 paid for the 2 hours of Wakeman music.
We saw Mr. Wakeman and son this Easter Sunday in Rio... awesome... Besides
Journey to the Center of the Earth, King Arthur and The 6 Wives of Henry
VIII, he even pleased the crowd by playing Starship Trooper with extended
solos ( as an intro to ST the band played the first few frenetic bars of
Heart of the Sunrise ) and ended the encore with Eleanor Rigby from his
Beatles cover album. Two sold-out shows.
The kid is superb, and there was a very emotional moment during one
extended solo with father and son exchanging terrific synth lines, head to
head, with portable keyboards midstage, you could see that old Rick was
really moved and proud of his offspring... Speaking of genetics...
Great back-up band, excellent drummer Antonio Fernandes ( portuguese,
spanish ? ). The guy looks like a regular bureaucrat / civil servant, but
heīs a real dinamo behind the kit. The only weak link was the guitar
player, who could not produce a decent guitar solo, persisting on Van
Hallen-like finger-tapping techniques at 200 mph, I mean that was ok 15
years ago, but now itīs done to death... other than in a couple of solo
spots, at least he didnīt get in the way...
Vocal equalization suffered a bit in clarity, the mass of synth sounds are
also located in the midrange, and clearly there was not much headroom left
for the vocal part, although we really canīt blame the lead singer for
this fact, just the FOH sound engineer who should be wiser, and I think he
even managed to put a fine performance after all .
Otherwise, great performance also from the bass player who got big ovations
from the crowd in his two solo spots, displaying superb command of bass
techniques, and providing a solid foundation along with the drummer.
Mr. Wakeman, in very fine shape, dressed in black with a silver mantle,
dutifully played with the expected virtuosism and highlighted his most
significant work , presenting an excellent choice of repertoire to his
devoted audience. Also the venue size provided intimacy to the
performance, and to the delight of his fans he descended from stage with
his hand-held keyboard to play a long solo walking amid the cheering crowd,
bringing the house down... We should also mention that there is a strong
historical and emotional bond between Rick Wakeman and his Rio de Janeiro
fans : Wakeman was the first prog/rock artist ever to perform in Rio in the
late 70īs at the height of success in his solo endeavours, the Journey to
the Center of the Earth tour, a very bold move at the time into completely
unchartered territory ,a gamble which, by the way, paid off big time, it
was a huge successful event, and for sure many of those fans from way back
there were present in the audience this sunday, older and wiser... Speaking