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Rick Wakeman - The Legend Live In Concert 2000 (aka An Evening With Rick Wakeman) (DVD) CD (album) cover


Rick Wakeman


Symphonic Prog

3.66 | 13 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
3 stars Rick Wakeman's year 2000 UK tour is documented here on both CD and DVD, in an attractive twin package immodestly titled "The Legend, Live in Concert". Recognizing his keen sense of self-deprecating humor, I imagine the ex-YES keyboard wizard probably had a good laugh at that.

Normally I would recommend the more lasting pleasures of the audio disc over a concert DVD, which doesn't always reward repeated plays. But in this case the opposite is true, and the visual presentation adds some life to music even diehard fans would have to admit isn't very exciting, stuff an old pro like Wakeman could (and probably did) play in his sleep.

And besides, the best part of the show (Wakeman's often hilarious between-song banter) is left off the compact disc. Never mind the music, flawless as it is: this guy is a natural comedian. A quick sample of his wit: "he is a little different", talking about YES bandmate Jon Anderson, "he's the only person I know who's trying to save this planet by living on a totally different one".

The DVD itself was directed with respect and good taste, in the manner of a PBS fundraiser broadcast. It's a pleasure to watch (and hear) Wakeman play without all the usual bells and distracting whistles: the philharmonic orchestras and choirs, the clouds of dry ice (and ice skaters: remember his "King Arthur" tour?) and so forth. Here the maestro is alone on a small stage in front of a politely seated middle-aged audience, many of them older than Wakeman himself. Maybe it's all too polite at times: compare the soporific walk-on music here, a synthesized string arrangement of that middlebrow concert favorite, Johann Pachelbel's "Canon in D", with the more contemporary music of Stravinsky employed by YES to introduce their concerts back in the 1970s.

And the orchestral samples used here by Wakeman are an acquired taste. Even his solo acoustic piano has some MIDI strings attached, diluting the authenticity of his performance and making it sound more programmed than played. There are moments (for example the excerpts from "Journey to the Center of the Earth") when listening to him is like being dipped into a vat of sticky digital molasses.

But the cathedral organ sound used in "Jane Seymour" (from arguably his best solo album, "The Six Wives of Henry VIII") is impressive. And the "Nursery Rhyme Concerto" is a hoot: "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star" done in the style of Mozart; "Hickory Dickory Dock" as if by Maurice Ravel, and so forth (he later pulls a similar trick with THE BEATLES). A couple of old YES tunes are excavated also, but hardly improved in the wholesome muzak renditions played here.

In all, a memorable evening with a virtuoso talent, and an engaging raconteur as well. It may not attract any younger fans, but their parents will certainly appreciate it.

Neu!mann | 3/5 |


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