|Civic Hall - Guildford||08 May 2003||by Marc Harry|
I've seen getting on for 20 Rick solo shows and this was the best by miles and miles. I was sat dead centre on the 2nd row back - the PA in proper stereo was great and the view wonderful.
The gig began (as I guess all those on this tour) with the announcement about Ashley being in...) I had no problem at all with this; not that I have anything against other vocalists but Ashley and Rick is like Brandy and Alexander! In fact, as the opening riff of 'Journey' started then the original vocalist started to sing with that big, full band sound behind it was like being transported by some magical time machine (...oooh, glad they didn't do 'Make me a Woman'...) - as I looked along the row of seats nearly everyone sat through almost the whole of part one with a smile on their face...my son, Morgan, has just finished a big 'No Earthly Connection' kick so he was thrilled with these tracks. Rick's Moogs sounded better than ever, penetrating and clear without hurting your ears, Lee's bass was positively thumping as he emulated everyone from Chris Squire to Mark King at various parts of the show...in fact, just admiring his 'flashy' guitars was an entertainment in itself!
Wop's expanded kit was enormous - he had a lengthy, but inventive, drum solo in part 2. This was not the usual 'look how fast I can play' rock drum solo but almost a composition in itself. I (like many) am usually bored by drum solos (unless it's Carl Palmer!) but Tony held my interest via the interplay between acoustic and electric drums and the use of some complex and unusual rhythmic devices.
As for Ant, he was absolutely sublime all evening. For a guy who's been through what he has so recently he seemed not just to play a blinder but looked every bit as if he was savouring every moment. One of the best virtuoso solo guitar shows I've ever seen - he seemed to be battling with himself to better his previous solo (I was reminded of the battle between Scott Gorham and Snowy White way back when I saw Thin Lizzy about the time Rhapsodies was released!!!!!
And so to Ashley...love his voice or not we all have to admit he has a bit of a reputation for 'just missing' a few notes here and there :o) I can honestly say that, with the slight exceptions of the new 'Out There' songs he gave as faultless a demonstration of intonation you could ever wish for. He is much more slimline than I've ever seen him before and fitter than ever (so he told me afterwards...it seems he's been spending the 2 years since he was last on the road - that time as emergency cover for a larynxially challenged Ramon - doing light tasks like bricklaying and he says his lung capacity has increased accordingly!) Some of the notes he hit were very high - long sustained top Bs were commonplace. The only allowances made for his part were a music stand and cribsheet for 'Out There' and 'Cathedral' and some 'sensitive' sound mixing on the former. He was often kept lower in the mix on these songs, especially at the beginnings of phrases until he was 'in' and comfortable.)
Rick though, as ever, was the star of the show. Behind a very expansive array of Roland, Korg, Gem and Moog synths (at least) he controlled the performances with all the professionalism we have come to expect. For me the greatest innovation for this tour was the 'finger-cam' - at last I was able to study Rick's fingers close up, watching the patterns, seeing how he manipulated the moog portamento controls, observe the patterns and - even better - the keys the band were playing in! WOW!!!! Keep this IN guys, if you're looking for feedback...absolute 'techie heaven' for sad old wannabes like me!!!
One of the best ten gigs I've ever attended!