Rick Wakeman, April 15th 2001
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

By Soren Lemche and Renato Menezes (The Soundchaser Project)


Soren Lemche:

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.

Renato Menezes:

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 of loyalty...

 

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