June was probably the most hectic I can remember for years and July has continued exactly the same. I’ve hardly had time to draw breath, which makes life exciting but also leaves no free time at all to do anything else.....and that included the July GORR.....which is now being written rather a few days later than anticipated! However, we have managed to post some Instagram photos and a few other goodies on our social media sites which I hope went some way to asking for your forgiveness!
So this GORR is going to be half historical reporting and half gazing into the future.
The trip to Moscow was everything I could have wished for. A wonderful orchestra and choir in the most stunning setting and a very special concert to a privately invited audience. I do love visiting Russia and there was even time to do the Kremlin museum tour and also visit a few art galleries and the most amazing instrument museum where I was even allowed to play Rachmaninoff’s harmonium. Certainly a visit that will remain in the memory for many years to come.
Away from music, it was time for my bi-annual blood tests and general going over by the doctor. It’s always a little concerning when during the general chit chat he asked, “Have you got any long term plans”? I’m pleased to report that when the results came back it does appear that nothing is due to drop off in the near future so apart from the usual quirky things that affect 70 year olds, I can breathe easy for another 6 months....well, breathe anyway!
Erik and I then spent more than a few hours programming the keyboards in preparation for the Royal Festival Hall and the rehearsals in July. A time consuming job, but a very worthwhile one.
I then had tremendous fun with Sue Perkins at the Marylebone festival where I played with a choir and had hilarious repartee with Sue in-between the pieces. All to raise money for an excellent extremely well run homeless charity.
The very next day I boarded a plane to Zurich to be part of a concert for Starmus celebrating the 50 year anniversary of man landing on the moon and was privileged to be on stage with Stev Vai, Brian May, Hans Zimmer and a full symphony orchestra and choir. The concert was amazing and culminated in an amazing performance of We Are The Champions when all the surviving astronauts and other astronauts walked on stage in a line.....and needless to say, the place went crazy.
A couple of weeks ago Rachel and I went to see Susie Dent and her World of Words show, which was absolutely brilliant and I can really recommend you going if she’s in your area.
I had meetings with Guy Protheroe and Robert Powell about the concerts and just before band rehearsals started I did 2 more Piano Odyssey shows, on the Isle of Wight, (where of course I spent a wonderful afternoon with everybody at Friends of the Animals) and 2 days later, the Sevenoaks festival which is always great fun to do.
Then on the 8th, band rehearsals started in earnest and they went extremely well and it was great to have such a great line up as always with Dave Colquhoun, Matt Pegg, Tony Fernandez, Hayley Sanderson, Adam Wakeman and Ashley Holt. They were all extremely considerate to each other by having their curry on the second night which meant the aftermath was not around for long!
It was then off to London for the full production rehearsals which were brilliant with the Orion Orchestra and English Chamber Choir joining in to create the Journey sound that I love. More rehearsals at the Royal Festival Hall where my great friend Alfie Boe joined us to run through Never is a Long, Long Time and Still Waters Run Deep/ Both songs had been especially adapted for him and oh boy....did they work well!
Then came the two shows over the weekend and I have to say that for me, they surpassed even the Albert Hall performances of 2014, which I thought would be impossible. The Saturday night was just amazing and so we were all a little worried that Sunday would have a lot to live up to.....but somehow, Sunday surpassed Saturday......Heaven knows what it would have been like if there had been a Monday performance!!
Just a couple of days later I was at The Stables in Wavendon performing 2 Piano Odyssey shows and also taking the opportunity to pop into KORG to do a video for them about their new range of digital pianos, which are excellent.
Then came the Petworth Festival, which apart from driving home along flooded roads because of the torrential rain, was such a lovely night.
As I write this, I am aware that I need to get ready for The White Rock Theatre in Hastings tomorrow night. Preparation includes sorting out the music, my clothes and eating a dangerous home made vegetable soup this evening!
Then I have a few days of sitting on the telephone doing interviews for the upcoming American tour and then at the end of the month I am taking part in a documentary about the famous Trident Studios where I did a load of sessions including Hunky Dory, Catherine of Aragon and News From Spain with Al Stewart which is one of my all time favourite tracks that I was lucky enough to have played on.
The rest of any remaining minutes left will be used up in preparing for the Xmas album, which will be called Christmas Portraits and due for release in late November.