Monday, 5 May 2014

Live in 2014: Rick Wakeman - Journey To The Centre Of The Earth 40th Anniversary Show - Cardiff Motorpoint Arena 4th May 2014

Can it really be 40 years since the release of Journey To The Centre Of The Earth. Where has the time gone? Since the average age of the audience tonight must be over 50, I guess I wasn't the only one asking THAT question.

Well, Rick rolled back the years tonight with the performance of Journey complete with rock band, choir and orchestra. This is a performance of the newly recorded version which is extended by over 10 minutes and is now the album that Rick wanted it to be back in 74 but could not because of the limitations of vinyl at the time.

Anyone who has seen Rick before or even caught him on TV will know what an excellent raconteur he is. He could have been a stand up comedian. 
The first part of the show comprises of songs by people that helped Rick in the gestation of Journey.

First up was Cat Stevens, and Rick talked about how he played piano on Cat's Morning Has Broken and played a rendition complete with choir providing the vocals. It is still a moving piece of music and Rick proves he's still got the touch on the piano.

Next up came David Bowie - Rick went on to explain how David helped him by telling him not to compromise on his vision for Journey, no matter what the record company wanted. Rick played keyboards on Hunky Dory and went on to discuss Life On Mars. He then played this with his female vocalist of the tour, Hayley Sanderson.

Next up was Gershwin's Summer Time sung by original vocalist for Journey, Ashley Holt with whom Rick has worked with since the 1960s.

Rick finished part one with a tribute to his father and the composer Prokofiev by playing a version of Eleanor Rigby in the style of Prokofiev. 
Anyone who thought that Rick might have lost his skills over the years was proved wrong at this point where he showed just what an amazing pianist he actually is.

After a short intermission, it was back with the complete album of the reworked Journey To The Centre Of The Earth.
Rick emerged, resplendent in sparkling cape to thunderous applause!

To hear the album live with the Choir and Orchestra is a completely different experience from the album. The power of the music is just immense.

The narrator for this tour is the actor Philip Franks who does a fine job in the chair providing the required gravitas which is spoken by Peter Egan on the new recording.

photo courtesy of Kevin Cooper

The New World Symphony Orchestra under Guy Protheroe were fantastic in giving the music it's dynamic range and allowed Rick to paint his pictures using his various keyboards to convey Jules Verne's classic novel to the audience.

Since it's recording back in 1974, yes, the original album was a live recording, the music has stood the test of time and doesn't sound dated at all. Probably due to it's classical leanings. 

The 50+ minutes of the album just flew by and it was great to be 14 again.

Here is the last track from Journey - Mount Etna - rubbish video but the sound isn't too bad

As an encore, Rick and the musicians played a track from the album's sequel Return To The Centre Of The Earth and brought the 2 1/4 show to a standing ovation that lasted several minutes.

photo courtesy of kevin cooper

There is a rumour doing the rounds that Rick may attempt his follow up album King Arthur & The Knights Of The Round Table next. Now THAT would be something to see. Even on ice!!

Twitter - @GrumpyOldRick

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