|The Abbey - Chicago, IL||23 June 2006||by JB Anderton|
This will be a show I'm going to look back on and be grateful I caught as this is, from what I understand, Rick's last solo touring in the U.S.
Rick played two 45 minute sets with a 15-minute intermission in between. As always he told many funny and fascinating stories between pieces.
Rick started the evening by telling the story of his first piano concert at age five when he played a piece called "Monkey Up The Stick" He opened with that piece and went into a Strawbs number.
The next two pieces were dedicated to his ex-wives: "Catherine of Aragon" and "Catherine Howard" from "Six Wives". Pure bliss!
Next was "Morning was Broken", and he shared how he was miffed that Cat Stevens' management never paid Rick the $15 session fee and that he never got credit for arranging the song. Apparently the original hymn was only 40 seconds long and Rick had to keep adding bits and key changes to get it up to 3 minutes.
The first half closed with Rick telling about his first day of rehearsal with Yes and that it became his job to take all these ideas from the other members and make them all fit like a jigsaw puzzle. A few years ago (after his third divorce) he found a box of old tapes and one of them had his original piano arrangements for "And You And I". So he played us a fascinating version of "And You And I" with the lost chord sequences, mainly centered around the "Apocolypse" bit, and it sounded really cool. I'll have to see if I can remember the sequence of chords he used.
The second set started with "Gone But Not Forgotton" dedicated to his mother, which was definately an emotional bit of the night for me as he suggest we close our eyes and think of a loved one lost.
Next was "Wonderous Stories" and "The Meeting" (from ABWH) which was preluded with a story about how spacey Jon Anderson is.
Rick then related a story about the recording session for the "White Rock" album where he thought he had scored the whole movie but he forgot about the ice skating segment, which was left to score last. So he had the producers run the film segment and he made up the piece ("After the Ball") on the spot. Then it became a hit and he then had to actually learn how to play the bloody thing.
Before playing "After the Ball" he demonstrated how easy it was (for him!) to make up something on the spot by having some of the audience members suggest notes, and he preluded and concluded the piece by a melody using those notes in the order they were given. And my god, he made those random notes into a melody that really worked.
He concluded the second set with "Help/Eleanor Rigby".
Rick returned for one encore: "Merlin The Magician", which, apparently, he written originally for the Six Wives album.
He left the audience wanting more! Quite literally. There were a bunch of us waiting around for a meet 'n greet, but the house announced that he was driven off right after he left the stage. Perhaps he wasn't up to meeting with the fans tonight. But that's okay, because I had an unforgetable, enjoyable and inspiring evening.
Thank you, Rick, for a wonderful evening, for all the music, and for one first and last chance to see the master up close and in person perform his magic.