|De Montfort Hall - Leicester||27 May 2003||by Kevin Cunningham & Beverly Pyle|
Having had the opportunity to see Rick and the guys at Nottingham, meant we could relax at the Leicester concert and enjoy the whole performance and drink in the atmosphere each member of the band displays the each other and the audience. The Tony "Greasy Wop's" drumming is rhythmic, Lee's bass playing is mesmerising, Ant's guitar work is spell binding and with the joy of camera's and backdrop Rick's keyboard playing is enhanced. But for us Ashley stole the show again. His vocal range is powerful, majestic and clear.
The show included the usual "Journey to the Centre", "Catherine Parr" and a welcome return of some "No Earthly Connections". A little insight into the new album with the title song "Out There", great graphics. End of side one and off for a pint. What more have we in store?
Second half call. The audience settle down and wait. Then out of the depths of the back stage "Jane Seymour" begins. Has Rick shipped in a Church organ? The back drop descends, the church organ pipes begin to show, "Jane Seymour" continues to build and there's Rick, alone wearing a Gold cape and enjoying the De Montford Hall organ, treating us to a wonderful new sound. What a detour from the normal set. It was spine chilling.
Once completed, the show continues as per the usual concerts on the tour. Tony's drum solo (even the second time is very entertaining). The came the "King Arthur" set. Ashley pitch perfect and supported by LEE and ANT (good fight). Then time for Rick's Karaoke to "Dance of a Thousand Lights". The Candles were so elegant. A little chill out time, before the build up to the big ending. Next up was "Cathedral of the Sky". More clever graphics and the inclusion of the choir and orchestra (CLEVER), well done that sound man.
Then to the end (sadly), time for Merlin, an obvious favourite of all Rick fans. The band enjoying solos and Rick bringing out the WAND or KEYTAR and goes a wonder around the audience. Finally dragging up a buxom blonde and allowing her to hold the keyboard whilst Rick delicately and in a blur plays the MERLIN "chase", breathtaking! Rick and the band finish the song, then go and hide, praying for the ENCORE.
With the crowd cheering the band return and end with Starship Trooper. Those grips really helped Ashley hit those (Anderson) high notes. What a great song for an encore. The band go crazy. Ant wanders into the audience and allows up close inspection skill with those guitar strings. Followed closely by Ashley on guitar (without guitar strings). The fun continued as Ashley sneaks behind Rick and tries to play the keyboards, wrong move - the hammer appears and Rick clears him out The Audience is laughing but sadly the show comes to an end. Another great night out with Rick and the Boys. Nottingham was great as we were front row and having a laugh with Ant. Leicester was great because we could see the graphics, the whole group and the solo ORGAN piece was worth entry fee.