|Teatro Gran Rex - Buenos Aires||14 September 2000||by Chris Berry|
I had a busy summer, excitedly rushing home for the Marlborough gig, and driving over from Cardiff that Saturday evening early to soak up the sunny evening air in the Avebury stone circle with my wife. Coming out of the Theatre I thought I had experienced one of my best concerts ever, although in many ways it did feel like a warm up.
Three weeks later I flew down from one thrill of a lifetime, collecting fossils high in the Argentine Andes, into Buenos Aires for another, to share an English Rock Ensemble concert with 3,000 crazy Argentinian Wakeman fans. And it blew the memories of Marlborough into the far distance.
A large, plush theatre, with a decent sound system and the uninhibited Argentine atmosphere were the main ingredients in some respects, but they were matched by a fired up band that were well past the rehersal stage and really relishing their performance.
Rick himself looked like he was thriving on the energy of the band, and I have never seen him look so happy; the nose to nose keytar solos between him and Adam were a contradictory mix of fierce fingerflying rivalry and family pride. Ant Glynneīs guitar work melted efortlessly into the sonic landscape that the band provided and some blistering solos were well appreciated by the audience. Lee Pomeroy on bass is the exact opposite of Antīs rock star looks, and you wouldnīt be suprised if he turned up one morning to fix your car. In Marlborough he had stood a bit uneasily at the side of the stage, although his fingers were doing more than enough to impress. In Buenos Aires he more took to the limelight and was visually more part of the band, interacting and giving a couple of fine solos, his speedfreak slap bass going down particularly well. Tony Fernandez was always part of the action, performing exactly as we are used to. Adam paced around barefoot with his keytar and looked very cool throughout the proceedings, effortlessly matching his father note for note when required. The biggest suprise was Damian Wilson. In Marlborough, he came across to me as a lion tamer, and a nervous one at that, cracking his microphone lead across the stage, although it was quite clear at the time that Wakeman had found probably the most versatile voice he may have worked with. In Argentina Damian hit every entrance with gusto, and had transmogrified from wanabee rockstar to actual rockstar in next to no time. In the process of the evening he managed to cope with tracks recorded by Jon Anderson, Chakka Kahn, Ashley Holt, Paul McCartney, Katrina and the Waves and goodness knows who else. And there was no hint of imitation, just a fine comitted performance and the opportunity to flirt with the front row when occasion permitted.
The set was the same as Marlborough, as far as I could remember, but some changes were made, the most noticeable was that Rick made his way down into the audience with his keytar during Merlin and walked up the Aisle near me. There was general hysteria of course, and to me it summarised the difference of this performance, the passion and reaction of the audience and the way this fed back into the playing.
Well, after good-sized portions of Arthur, Six Wives, Journey, Return, The Visit from Phantom Power, Eleanor Rigby, and 1984 things were working themselves up to a pretty fiery climax as the end of Merlin approached. But as the introduction to Heart of the Sunrise segued into Starship Trooper, things began to get out of hand! Damianīs vocals for this track were spot on, which was great as in Marlborough that was the only bit I didnīt like. But as the solos approached Adam padded out onto a ledge on the lefthand wall of the theatre with his keyguitar, followed shortly after by Ant and his guitar. Damian, however, decided to go vertical and headed up the rather meagre support of the left lighting and sound tower, and proceeded to perform monkey antics through the rest of the number. Superb instrumentals led into the mother of all minimoog solos from the maestro which of course brought the house down.
The encores were from Return and then the Gigue from Cirque Surreal. This could not be more appropriate and I wondered whether Damian might be able to produce another small child to dance with. This, however, was Argentina, and on he came like the Pied Piper, with a whole troop of not only small children but some pretty big ones too, who sambad away and ended up throwing numerous plastic bananas into the audience, many of which were returned to the stage with equal enthusiasm.
What could be better I though as I happily wandered out into the street at 12.30 in the morning........... The next day I bumped into a band member by chance in a record store, and was, presumambly on acount of not only his kindness but also my English accent, taken back to the band hotel to meet Rick. Fearing that this would be the moment where Rick would look bored, I was introduced. Rick couldnīt believe I was there for a start, and then proceeded to give me very intelligent 10 minute grilling on the subject of fossil plants and the possibilities of rebuilding them from their DNA. This was not what I expected to happen, but it meant things were pretty relaxed when finally I got to ask the questions I wanted to!
The rest of the band are tops to. I donīt like it when people post on the internet their conversations with people from these situations, so I shall finish with my favorite jokes of the evening. It is obvious that one of the factors that holds this band together is humour!
Damian Wilson to Tony Fernandez: "Hey, meet Chris. He works with fossils". Tony Fernandez (quick as a flash): "So do I".
Ant Glynne, on the same tack, but after about half an hour pondering the situation:
"Most bands get groupies. What do we get? A palaeontologist! Itīs must be true, we are rock dinosaurs..........."
And, scribbled across my copy of the fabulous Mellotron Magazine:
"Yet another fossil - Rick Wakeman"
Thanks to all for a great show. Rick claimed on Argentinian TV that this was the best band he had ever played with! Let us hope they play on and on.......