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Beck Theatre, Hayes 1 May 2003

After a last minute vocalist change, Damian Wilson who appears on the new album ‘Out There’, has been replaced by Ashely Holt, who appeared on Rick’s solo albums in the mid-70’s. A near sell out crowd in the plush surroundings of a seated theatre, with ‘Journey to the Centre of the Earth’ starts the show off. Next up are ‘Realisation’ and ‘The Spacenman’ but the first half highlight was ‘Catherine Parr’ OTT music and great fun to listen to! The title track of the new album, ‘Out There’ closes the first half and brings a more metal sound to the proceedings, although Ashley Holt struggles to reach the high notes that Damian Wilson laid down on the album. The background video screen also adds footage of the spaceship featured on the new album’s cover and you also get a camera over the keyboards to see what Rick gets up to.

Second half you get ‘Arthur’, a solo piano performance by Rick on ‘Dance of a 1,000 Lights’ and another off the new album, ‘Cathedral of Sound’. Next is ‘Merlin’, where Rick gets a lady form the audience to support his keyboard (thank God he wasn’t playing his organ!) and the set is closed in fine style. Encore time is ‘Starship Trooper’ by Yes, with Rick joking about Ashley worrying about how to recreate the vocal high notes of Jon Anderson! This song is amazingly portrayed here, the band soloing away and for my money better than Yes, just for the sheer enjoyment you can see the whole band having with the song. Rick and Ant Glynne even go into the audience and sit down with them whilst still soloing away!

Even though Rick Waleman’s amazing keyboard skills are the focus of the show he has a very able supporting cast. Tony Fernandez is a very good drummer, keeping strict time and adding delicate percussion touches as needed and even his drum solo after the interval was listenable (most drum solos leave me cold bar the late, great Cozy Powell). Bass player Lee Pomeroy is amazing! He manages to play the bass as a lead guitar and he also has a very funky bass that lights up blues for the more space orientated numbers. Guitarist Ant Glynne is highly rated in prog rock circles and is very talented, some great soloing on the night. Vocalist Ashley Holt puts in a spirited performance and shines more on the material form the mid-70’s, whe he occupied the vocalist spot. He also bears an uncanny resemblance to Ricky Gervais of the BBC comedy ‘The Office’

Great concert, with Rick a natural showman and his easy banter between songs is another highlight of the show. Vocalist Ashley Holt does very well at such short notice, even though he can’t match the high range on the new songs. Get along to one of the remaining gigs if you can.

Text © 2003 Jason Ritchie

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