The John Wetton Band
May 9th 1998
Het Kasteel, Alphen a/d Rijn, The Netherlands
By Jan-Jaap de Haan
The progressive rock-circus has some chameleons, persons who have been in several bands and have built, over the years, an impressing list of songs and albums. People like Bill Bruford and Tony Levin. John Wetton is also one of those, as a former member of King Crimson, UK and Asia and many guest-appearances with Roxy Music, Uriah Heep and, more recently, Steve Hackett. An evening with this man and his own band could be something very special....
For this European tour, John Wetton once again compiled a band with great talents. With Martin Orford (IQ, Jadis) on keyboards, Steve Christey (Jadis) on drums, and the young David Kilminster on guitar, Wetton had a band that sounded solid as a rock. The master himself played a beautiful double-neck bass/12-string, as well as an acoustic, Spanish guitar. The concert was held in a small youth-centre, so the audience was really close to the band. About 250 people, including Jadis' Gary Chandler, came to see John Wetton.
The concert started with the intro: The Circle of St.Giles, played from his latest album Arkangel. Next was The Last Thing On My Mind, a rock-song from the same album. Not the best song to start with. Especially since Wetton turned out to have a bad voice this evening. A pity, because this man has one of the best voices I know. His appearance really was a shock to me. Since I saw him the last time, in 1996, he really gained weight. Obviously John Wetton has had a hard period in his life behind him.
Sole Survivor made the audience immediately react with enthousiasm. This Asia-classic should have been the opener, sing this up-tempo song really brought some atmosphere. Battle Lines, from the album with the same title, followed. This is a slow, but bombastic song, full of melancholy about the years that are left behind. A typical Wetton song, accessible and beautifully arranged.
After this song, Martin Orford had the chance to do a solo bit. This classical piece, called Quilmes, still is very beautiful. A pity the audience wasn't too interested. I'm looking forward to his solo-album.
The CD was started again, and a bit called Thunder lead into Arkangel, where the rest of the band entered the stage again. Arkangel also is a very dark and moody song, as is Emma, a beautyful ballad, played on acoustic guitar, with Martin Orford on flute.
Book of Saturday and The Night Watch, both from the King Crimson Starless and Bible Black-album, were a nice trip to the past. Especially The Night Watch, which hasn't been played for a long time. Possibly Wetton wanted to pay some attention to the release of a live CD with the same title, which contains live recordings from 1973.
Of course, John couldn't get away without playing some UK-stuff, and so he did. Rendez-Vous 6:02 is still one of my favourite songs ever and it was great to hear it. In the Dead of Night was played very powerful. David Kilminster did his job remarkably well. To play guitar-leads written by people like Fripp, Howe and Holdsworth on one night asks for great skills.
Although the concert started a bit slow (wrong opener, and a break too early in the set), the second part was great. Despite his bad voice, Wetton managed to make a little party and with the help of the audience, the Asia hit-singles Only Time Will Tell and Heat of the Moment were some other highlights of the evening.
But the best was still to come. After the break, Wetton started Starless. He has played this song before, but normally he only plays the first part of it. But after some minutes it turned out that they were going to do the whole thing! The middle part really was a nice improvisation and Steve Christey (although he had rehearsed the song only once) managed to keep the band together and lead them to a safe end. It was really great to hear this.
Another Asia-song, Don't Cry, ended this evening. I really do hope this man gets his things together again. He deserves to play for a bigger audience.
Jan-Jaap de Haan
(CD: The Circle of St.Giles)
The Last Thing on my Mind
Quilmes (Orford solo)
Book of Saturday
Smile Has Left Your Eyes
The Night Watch
Hold Me Now
Only Time Will Tell
In the Dead of Night
Heat of the Moment
(CD: The Celtic Cross)