Rochester Cathedral - Rochester 09 June 2006 by Liz Shave

The life story of Jesus Christ. What could be more interesting? AH - but to have it set to music!

Rick and friends performed at Rochester Cathedral , all for charity ("HANDS", Gillingham Volunteer Bureau and the Music Department at Rochester Cathedral) and even those in the audience who had not heard of Rick Wakeman before the event were in awe! IT WAS A REVELATION! Programmes were only priced at £2!

To begin the show, the Dean of the Cathedral gave an opening speech introducing the renowned keyboard player and telling of how he - the Dean - would shut himself in his bedroom as a youngster with the sounds of "Yes" on at full blast! A nice, down-to-earth connection here with us in the audience. The Dean exalted the efforts of John Guy of "Hands" who pulled everything and everybody together against the odds - thus culminating in this memorable occasion. John had helped to synchronise - along with Rick - diaries of the performers; it had been painstaking. Rick appeared, dazzling, in a sunburnt orange shirt and jacket with dark tie. It seemed as though a ray of light from above was shining down on him. Yes, I am a "believer", but this is truly the way it appeared to me! Next to me was seated a lady on her own - as was I - in a lime green shawl. She asked me where I went to church after having told me she worshipped at The Cathedral. I replied honestly that I do not attend church although I read The Gideon's New Testament Bible that I was given at school, nightly. Did she believe me? Who knows. I have to admit that I found it difficult to believe that she has no television at home as she confessed! Well then....she would not have seen Rick in,"Grumpy Old Men", would she!

The seats were all full. Now Rick introduced his co-artists. Old friend and director of The English Chamber Choir, Guy Protheroe; The Choir Itself (fabulous they were as a crowning glory throughout the evening); Bassist Phil Laughlin; Simon Merry on percussion; Adam Wakeman on keyboards complimenting his Dad; Garfield Morgan narrating and Ramon Remedios giving his splendid tenor voice ("Oh! Galilee!"). The impressive backdrop of The Cathedral was an ideal showcase for his melodic skills - he is always so charming in personality, enthusiastic about putting on a show - the voice on one of my favourite Rick Wakeman CD's, "A Suite Of Gods". Henceforth we were led on a voyage through the life and times of Jesus.......I noted that, "Welcome a Star" had been sung by Ashley Holt at The Marlborough Christmas event last year. We were wit nessing, "The Gospels according to Rick Wakeman" - laid down in straightforward manner, yet exciting and enticing. Now, this could encourage and interest youngsters sufficiently to lead them to explore the bible in a leisurely way. Surely this is inspirational in these days of unrest. "Children Of Mine" stood out for me as a highlight and I found it reminiscent of the music in the movie, "The Exorcist". I can hear you all gasping for air at this point! Do not forget that even in that dark Demonic tale there was a power from above and some salvation. This piece was repeated as a reprise or "encore". The sound crew and those behind the scenes were praised at shows end. What a fantastic experience.

EMMANUEL! GOD WITH US!

LIZ SHAVE