Huntingdon Hall - Crowngate Worcester 04 April 2000 by Clive Message

Rick Wakeman’s return to Worcester after an absence of four years was nothing short of magical, and was testament to his change in fortunes over that period. His last visit to a converted cinema playing to a relatively small audience was in stark contrast to a packed Huntingdon Hall, a venue more in keeping with his fusion of classical and rock styles.

Hot on the heels of numerous TV appearances and the critically acclaimed ‘Return to the Centre of the Earth’ Rick was at his best with a diverse set which ranged from his earliest solo work right through to the present. The evening was one of great humour with Rick’s usual anecdotes of life on the road interspersing the music. If he ever tires of music he would find it easy to move over to the comedy circuit, even his music can take a humourous turn with the ever popular ‘Nursery Rhyme Concerto’, in which four childrens’ favourites are played in the style of great composers, including Mozart and Les Dawson!

Playing solo with just a bank of keyboards it is easy to see why he topped musicians polls for years for his expertise, and sheer variety of material. He played several pieces from his ‘Six Wives’ album of which ‘Jane Seymour’ was as enigmatic as ever, particularly as he has now been able to faithfully reproduce church organ sound on electronic keyboards, this along with ‘Dance of a Thousand Lights’ from his latest offering were the highlights of the performance for me. With a sprinkling of Yes, a great arrangement of ‘Help/Eleanor Rigby’ and snatches from across his wide and varied career there was something for everyone.

There is no doubt that the Huntingdon Hall is the ideal backdrop for such an accomplished musician, the acoustics are superb, the size makes for an intimate setting for his unique style of show, and the sight of the old church organ pipes behind the stage certainly add to the concert hall atmosphere. It may have taken four Rick’s return to Worcester but hopefully we will not have to wait so long for the next enjoyable installment.

Reproduce with permission from Worcester Evening News