Basically it was a tale of half success half disaster, the latter actually coming from the areas we expected to do the best in, namely Germany.
Rehearsals got off to less than a promising start in Ipswich due to one of the wrong keyboards being brought over from the Isle of Man - Rick promised faithfully that the villain of the piece would remain anonymous and so no mention will be made of Stuart Sawney who lives in High Wycombe, Buckinghamshire!
Additional material was learned for the European set, which included extremely new versions of Catherine Howard and Catherine Parr.
On April the 2nd, Ian and Stuart left In the 7.5 ton lorry for Scandinavia on the ferry.
It is a very long ferry ride.
The weather was not kind.
When the band flew in a couple of days later it was very noticeable that a skin shade of green contrasts beautifully with the snow and ice in sub zero temperatures.
Whilst the lads were on the ferry, Rick and Adam journeyed to Chester where they played in the British Airways open golf tournament - both expressed extreme disappointment at having to force themselves around the course when they could have been on the ferry with the crew.
On the 5th of April the band met at Heathrow Airport - Alan had his camera stolen in the departure lounge which rather put a downer on the outward journey, but apart from that little episode that flight to Helsinki was uneventful.
A rehearsal took place at the club in Helsinki and following some press and television, the lads performed their first show to a small, (about 300), but enthusiastic audience.
The following day was a day off for the band and crew whilst they travelled to Oslo, and Rick went to Poland to do a charity mimed concert performance!
The Helsinki show finished around 2am and Rick was on the flight to Warsaw at 8am, somewhat tired. On arrival in Warsaw he was met and driven, via an extremely large and mediaeval castle, to Gdansk, where he was shown a bank of keyboards and told, "You're on"!
It is not easy miming to pieces with half the London Symphony Orchestra on the tape, but Rick did his best. He did feel though that doubts may have arisen as to Chrissie Hammond's voice being his.
The Polish people Rick warms to very much and they made him very welcome as ever.
The next day a ten hour journey got him via five flights to Oslo where he and the lads were special guests on the Fish show. They played for about an hour and the reception and subsequent reviews were tremendous. The same could be said of the following day in Stockholm.
And then the wheels fell off !
In what has to be described as the worst train on this planet, the lads set off from Stockholm to Hamburg. The train was dirty and old, creaked and moaned, (the Wop enjoyed it), and had no restaurant or cafeteria facilities at all.
The journey took fifteen hours.
Alan and Adam drunk themselves to sleep whilst Rick and the Wop played cards the entire journey!
On arrival in Hamburg we were informed that our show had now been added to the Fish show, which was fine by us. Also the following two days, originally days off for everybody would now also be as special guest to Fish.
Fine again... If somebody had let the public know.
The next three days Rick describes as the worst in his entire career and has vowed never ever to play in Germany again!
Because the audiences were not expecting an additional band and did not even know who the Wakeman's were, as no announcements were made even at the shows, the reception before even one note had been played was akin to a Jewish rally being held in Nurembourg around 1939!
Somehow they got through the three days and then ironically stayed in a little village just outside Nurembourg on the day off before travelling to Tilbourg in Holland.
Numerous quotes about the German leg have been passed over for publication in this issue, but none are fit for human consumption.
Tilbourg was back to the band performing on it's own, as were the rest of the shows, and a welcome relief too.
Tilbourg was fabulous - a pretty close to full house gave the band a tremendous welcome and reception and brought smiles back to everyone's faces again.
Vienna the next day met with a much smaller, but never the less enthusiastic crowd, and the city also won the hotel of the tour award - (the worst hotel of the tour award being split between Tilbourg and Rome, although neither of these were terrible).
Then another wheel fell off.
Forget the common market EEC etc., according to the lads it really doesn't exist - they reckon it was probably easier to get from Germany to Austria, who we know are not in the EEC, during the last war than it is now.
Thanks to the German and Austrian bloody mindedness at customs points, to both band and crew, they failed to make the show in Zurich.
Rick suggests they rebuild the wall, this time around Germany and Austria!
Austria did however win the award for the most fantastic service stations on their motorways that the lads had ever seen.
Next stop Italy.
Rick likes Italy.
He doesn't like the first place they played though - it was a very large place with not very many people in it and those in it didn't seem too fussed as to whether or not the band played.
Into Rome the next day which was a nice pick-me-up. The small club they played at was pretty full and the reception was tremendous - Rick went to bed a contended man again and Adam stayed up all night, a habit he seemed to have acquired in Helsinki and managed to keep up throughout the tour.
Two days of travelling came next in order to get to Madrid the first overnight stop was in Avignon.
Avignon is a beautiful town famous for its "pont" and the lads were very much looking forward to going "sur" it as per the song.
To go "sur la pont" however costs a couple of quid, and also tends to close a lot, so the lads had to settle for their pictures being taken under the pont!
The crew did not like Avignon.
There was nowhere to park the truck, but they did manage to find a nice piece of open ground about a mile away from the hotel where they backed the truck up against a wall and retired to bed before departing at nine o'clock the following day for the next leg of the journey.
In retrospect none of us could have possibly known that the area chosen by the chaps to park the truck was where they held the Sunday morning market.
By eight o'clock in the morning the lorry was swamped with vegetables, clothing and live poultry.
The band thought it was very funny and made special trips to the market in order to take pictures. Rick was extremely proud at reckoning to be the only person to have ever bought apples from off of his own lorry.
The crew did not share their sense of jollity, and so the band left for Leida, a small town about five hundred kilometres from Madrid. The truck left much later.
Leida makes Toxteth look like the French Riviera.
On arrival in this quaint little khasi, the lads went on a walkabout sight seeing tour which took over ten minutes.
The next day they all drove the remaining distance to Madrid - the drive was very picturesque and the shows in both Madrid and Barcelona were the undoubted high spots of the tour. Great crowds, great receptions and wonderful hospitality.
After Spain, three days in France ensued - the Montpelier show had been cancelled and so everyone piled into Grenoble which on retrospect won the worst hotel of the tour award hands down.
The Grenoble gig had the best catering of the tour and the town was quite pretty.
Into Paris for the last show on the tour as by mutual agreement all the final dates in Germany had been cancelled, meaning the tour finished in France.
The Paris hotel took over as best on the tour, and the gig went well. As there was an early start in the morning to fly home Rick watched a bit of Eurosport on the television back at the hotel before going to sleep and Adam promised to be back in time for breakfast.
And so the lads bade each other farewell at Heathrow Airport after a "mixed" European leg. Already gigs have been offered back in Spain and Holland and Scandinavia is also on the cards so all in all, although financially not successful, it was certainly an important exercise in getting back into certain areas of Europe.
It will be close to the culmination of the Wakeman with Wakeman set up, with possibly only South Africa and Japan to do before this particular line up is disbanded.
Before major panic sets in amongst everybody the disbanding basically means Adam is off on his own doing other projects, both on his own and with other bands which means Rick will build a new line up alongside Alan and the Wop.
Rick goes into the studio during April to complete "Wakeman Plays YES". An instrumental album of YES music - both the Wop and Alan Thompson are performing on the tracks and the delivery date to the record company will be early May. The release date is not yet known.
Tracks will include Roundabout and material from the early albums, as against that of the eighties.
The Marina Milic classical piano albums that Rick produced are both mastered and we are awaiting to hear of a release date.
It is hoped that whilst on the current "world" Wakeman with Wakeman tour, a live recording and video will be made.
Whilst on the subject of videos, the ABWH video is being held up through contractual reasons not, we hasten to add, from our department - it is making Rick extremely frustrated and his language has not been that great of late.
This followed a taped three way telephone conversation between Phil Carson, Tony Dimitriadis and Rick, where Rick was warned that unless he severed all links with his management then there was no way he could work with YES.
Rick informed them then that he was not prepared to do this and the ultimatum was therefore met.
Rick is disappointed that once again politics have involved themselves with YES but hopes that YES produce an album worthy of the name.
He is certainly not going to involve himself in any interviews over the matter and considers the subject closed once and for all.