Subscription Rooms - Stroud 23 March 2001 by Steve Kessler

First of all the bad:
1. When I called the Subscription Room from the US to reserve a seat, I was told the price for a ticket was 10 pounds. I was a little surprised to find out that it was 15 pounds when I got there. Good thing I had extra cash with me. Could be tough for someone that wasn't prepared.
2. The Subscription Room in Stroud is a big box room on the upper floor of an old building. I think the setting was more appropriate for a high-school dance or a town meeting than a performance by someone of Rick's calibre. I was much more impressed by the location in Luton (a church) when I saw Rick during the "Half-Century Tour", it sounded better and felt more intimate.
3. The stage seemed a little too flexible. Several times it looked like the keyboards were going to topple over or bounce off position.
4. Rick had some equipment problems during the first half of the show. His assistant Stuart got on it, even though he didn't want to say hello to the audience (even when asked by Rick). Of course, Rick smoothly handled the whole problem with much aplomb.

Now the good: It was a great show none the less. I was a little disappointed not to hear "Jane Seymour", "Birdman of Alcatraz" or this new song "DaVinci" but we got to enjoy some new (well really ... old) fare such as "Sea Horses" from the Rhapsodies album. The routine was very similar to what the other reviewers have described. He did several songs from "1984" and "No Earthly Connection". He explained the massive creative effort devoted to "After the Dance" from the album White Rock. "Barber of Wigan" was great, even when they both started cracking up and briefly lost their place in the piece. It showed that they were still having a lot of fun with it, even if they must have it down by rote by now!!!

Of course, Rick loves to milk the Cat Stevens story (and it still went over well, no matter how many times you hear it!!). I was surprised to hear the story about Jon Anderson (and maybe scientists should focus more of their attention on him). You could tell by the response of the crowd there is still a large contingent out there who hopes he will try to make time in his schedule to work again with his old band mates (Yes). It was great to hear a little bit of Yes-music in the show. I was really pleased he included "The Meeting" from ABWH days but (in my opinion) it was too "busy". I always enjoyed the quiet piano on the album and felt it had a certain reverence that did not come across clearly with Ramon. Nothing against Ramon, as he is working with something that is outside his normal vocal range.

All in all, if you can get there - DO SO!!! It was well worth it. The programme made for a very good argument why Rick would no longer tour, in such venues, but I can name several other performers who have also said "no more" and they are back soon after. The audience loved seeing Rick perform, Rick reciprocates so very well and it a show quite unlike anything else you will see. I truly believe that Rick will be "Back Still Again" in the near future, playing the venues where you actually see people's faces and really talk with them afterwards. Maybe he'll get Ramon to pay for it!!!!!!!

If you cannot get to the show, then order his "Live in Concert 2000" CD, it even comes with a DVD (although it's a PAL format so probably won't work here in the USA). It's almost as good as seeing him perform. It covers a wide spectrum of material from the early days up to even a song from "Preludes to a Century". It even includes "The Nursery Rhyme Concerto". The only downside is that it doesn't have any of the audience sounds, which would have been nice. A worthy CD indeed nonetheless.

Thanks Rick and best wishes in all your future endeavours, but don't forget us Yanks who are also your fans!!! Come see us if you can!!!