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RICK WAKEMAN, Hampton Court 1 May 2009
'The Six Wives of Henry VIII' has never been performed before in its entirety
and what better way to perform it all than to celebrate 500 years since Henry
VIII's ascension to the throne? Of course this being Rick Wakeman you get a full
experience with a full 'mock rock Tudor' evening and of course being held in the
grounds of Hampton Court you have the palace as the stage's backdrop. The stage
and light show were superb as you can see soon when the DVD of the show comes
First on stage were the English Chamber Choir who sang some songs from the Tudor
era and few based on the Tudors including 'I am Henry VIII I am', which of
course was a hit for Herman's Hermits back in the 60's, although the song is a
much older. 'Greensleeves' was also performed much to the delight of my daughter
who is learning this piece for her guitar exams. An enjoyable start to the
evening and next up was the Acoustic Strawbs.
Wakeman was a member of the Strawbs in his pre-Yes days although as he jokingly
said in a recent radio interview they had all the hits after he left so it was a
good job he didn't stay in the band! As a three piece including founder member
Dave Cousins, they played a solid set slightly beset by a few guitar problems.
Highlights were 'Ghosts' and a simply stunning run through 'Lay Down', which
sounded even stronger done acoustically.
Rick Wakeman took to the stage in full flowing cape and with his six wives
trailing behind him. Yes tonight he was Henry VIII for a few minutes. The band
launched into 'Tudor Overture' and then swiftly 'Catherine Of Aragon' ably
backed by the Europa orchestra and the English Chamber Choir. The band including
Rick Wakeman's long standing drummer Tony Fernandez, percussionist to the stars
Ray Cooper (Elton John/Eric Clapton/Pink Floyd/Travelling Wilburys et al), who
also played on the original album and his son Adam on keyboards (his keyboards
rig almost outsized that of his dad!).
Other highlights had to be Rick's cape changes which always got a cheer
from the crowd and his climb up a lit staircase to play a full sized
church organ. Nothing done by halves in this show…which was also true of
the narrator Brian Blessed who gave a brief historical background to each
Plus he also added his own err modest style as he said himself – the only person
who doesn't need a microphone to make himself heard at the back of the crowd.
Sheer stroke of genius to get him as the narrator as he fitted the evening
perfectly and spent much of the night pitching to play Henry VIII in any future
Three new pieces of music were aired as well, 'Tudor Overture' and 'Tudor Rock'
which closed the show plus a piece recorded for the original album but it never
made the final cut, 'Defender Of The Faith' a song for Henry VIII. These all
fitted well into the night's music and the two real highlights for me were
'Catherine Parr', lots of nice keyboard runs on this one and 'Anne Boleyn',
which saw Rick finish the song back on his raised platform this time playing a
Overall a well thought out and very enjoyable evening's music which was made
even more special by having Hampton Court palace as the backdrop. As live
musical extravaganzas go this is on par with seeing Pink Floyd way back in 1988
at Man City's football ground, yes it was that good.
Review by Jason
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