Apollo Theatre - Oxford 20 May 2003 by Sean Keogh

Just had to write to thank Rick, the band, the crew and everyone else involved. It was a brilliant show, and my girlfriend and I were very happy and went home bouncing along the pavement like teenagers.

I've been waiting to see Rick play live for years, but for some reason or another have never managed it until now. I actually had a ticket to see him live at the Wyvern Theatre in Swindon (where I live) two or three years ago and somehow managed to forget what night it was on. By the time I realised (about 8.30PM, while still at work in Oxford) it was really too late to do much about it.

Anyway, I managed to get my life together enough to make this show and it was extremely enjoyable. The Apollo was perhaps a tad too big, but the audience were enthusiastic, everything seemed to work (no major technical hitches) and the playing was awesome. Having live close-ups of Rick, zooming up and down the keyboard of the mini-moog, projected onto the backdrop was a great idea, the old beast keeps going strong (and the Mini-Moog was going well too) :-) It was interesting to see that he had the new Moog Voyager on stage, although I was a bit disappointed with the sounds on that one...a bit more work needed on the programming perhaps...but then, it *has* only just come out.

The rest of the keyboards contributed well to the wide sonic palette, although it seemed to me, seated up in the circle, second row, that some of the keyboards were rather low in the mix at the beginning of the show. This seemed to get sorted out a bit by the time the second half started.

The rest of the band put in sterling performances, and major kudos to Ashley Holt for stepping in at the last moment to take over the vocal duties. You can tell him from me that his voice was sounding very good from where we were sitting...even if he couldn't get all the high stuff in Starship Trooper during the encore. We recommend he accepts Rick's suggestion about the Mole Grips! ;-)

An excellent set list, which has already been reported in another review. It was good to hear some of the stuff from JTTCOTE, 6 Wives and Arthur...Rick's keyboard work on Catherine Parr was awesome, and his piano solo, complete with electric flickering candles, was blissful.

A brilliant gig and I just wish I could get decent tickets for one of the Yes gigs this summer so I could see Rick play again...unfortunately last time I looked there were none left on many venues, and only awful seats in the other venues that I can get to. Oh well...at least I have now managed to see Rick Wakeman play live.

If you can get a ticket to one of these shows then I heartily recommend that you go.