|Marlborough College - Marlborough||26 August 2000||by Simon Arnold|
Having been to Rick's recent show in Marlborough I had to write a review! For those about to see him in South America you could treat it as a preview if you wish.
Rick returned to the scene of his DVD recording earlier in the year, a quaint venue seating about 600 called the Marlborough Memorial Hall. The venue was packed to the rafters and made for a great rock venue in stark contrast to its day job as a college lecture theatre!
I won't beat around the bush, the show was amazing and incredibly smooth given that this was just the second time they had played this set live together. It was great I think for three main reasons;
The set list (which I won't reveal) was an excellent balance of the tried and trusted classics and one or two unusual choices.
The band as musicians are all superb, there are no weak links.
The band are obviously gelling and comfortable with each other.
The set itself had a wide range of songs in it and although some of them will have been heard plenty of times before this band takes them to a new dimension. Obviously there was representation from "Six Wives", "Journey", "Return" and "King Arthur" but there were also a few surprises in there including a track chosen by Oscar his youngest son which I doubt many would predict or have heard live before.
The sound was for the most part very good and if there were imperfections it's not surprising as the show is being put together for big stadium venues in South America. Marlborough offers rather different challenges to the technicians.
The band is just about as strong a unit as I can imagine being put together; Rick, well what can you say, I despair at some of the comments I've seen about him on Yes fora recently. Forgetting who you think is the best Yes keyboard player for a moment the guy is simply brilliant. At times looking almost like a professor studiously playing through glasses perched on the end of his nose, at others every inch the flamboyant keyboard player of his early Yes Years - plus a few wrinkles of course!
Adam Wakeman, what other band would have Adam Wakeman as a second keyboard player? Not many I would venture... His playing was superb of course complimenting his father's. I was concerned that he would not be given his share of the limelight but with one of those strap on keyboards he was allowed to solo up front. He was then joined by Rick for an amazing keyboard duel which will bring the house down in the larger venues.
Tony Fernandez, shouldn't need any introduction really, solid, impressive. An artful powerhouse and his drums were truly the heartbeat of the band.
Ant Glynne, guitars / backing vocals. All the experience of many years manifesting itself with a number of blistering solos and fills, good backing vocals too. Possibly slightly too much of a straight ahead rock guitarist for me but could hold his own comfortably in this company and contributed some brilliant moments.
Damian Wilson, vocals. The only other time I saw Damian was on the London stage in "Les Miserables" and he was great then. I have often wondered how artists from the two genres would be able to translate between the two. Damian does it admirably, the strength of his voice built on the stage boosted most of the songs. I'm convinced that had Rick used him for the whole of the "Return" album it would have been better for it. Live he is convincing and strong as you would expect.
Lee Pomeroy, bass. Lee comes last in the line up because frankly I'd never heard of him before . . . I certainly won't forget him in a hurry. Although younger he is already master of his instrument and the band know him as the "Oracle". He pulled off a couple of great solos and in terms of playing ability is up there with the best.
As I mentioned though the band are also gelling very well as a team.
During the soundcheck they played one number three times, crashing to an ungainly halt at the same point each time. There were no angry words just jokes particularly between Lee and Tony and it was a special moment when they got it right during the performance. The smiles on their faces as they pulled it off were radiant.
After the show I had brief chats with Rick, Adam, Lee and Damian. They were all very open, friendly and clearly looking forwards to taking the show to those big venues . . . I think this tour is going to be very special, don't miss it if it's coming near you!