Rick Wakeman Live, April 24, 2014: A Review

by Dave Smith
wakeman 40th
Rick Wakeman. Journey To The Centre Of The Earth.  Newcastle City Hall. 24th April 2014
Journey To The Centre Of The Earth has been played live in the UK on three occasions. Once at Crystal Palace and twice at the Festival Hall London. It was here that the recording was made that went on to sell 15,000,000 copies. So tonight was the fourth time it had been played and the first time in it’s newly extended version due to Rick finding the old manuscript with the music that had been left off the original recording.

There was an air of expectancy from the mainly older looking crowd gathered to pay homage. The stage looked amazing with Ricks’ keyboard bank taking centre stage. The organ pipes at the back looked down on the seating for the orchestra and choir and a large chair was positioned for the narrator.

At 8.00pm prompt, Rick casually walked onto the stage dressed in a two piece suit. The audience responded and seemed to put him at ease. The was a Roland Piano set up at the front of stage and Rick went on to tell us who had influenced and encouraged him in the early days. These included Cat Stevens and David Bowie, so we got renditions of Morning Has Broken and Life on Mars. After forty minutes of humour and music, Rick left the stage and soon after the orchestra and choir started to filter on. Then the lights dimmed and on came Rick in white t shirt and trousers and the most magnificent silver sequin cape. Thus began our Journey.

The sound was crystal clear and the playing was impeccable. The strings and the brass shone through and the choir added an extra texture. They played the whole thing straight through. You could hear a pin drop during the quiet bits as the audience seemed transfixed. But as the build up to Hall of the Mountain King and the final closing notes approached the crowd were ready to jump to their feet to show their appreciation of such an outstanding piece of music.

Rick was overwhelmed by the support. I think he wasn’t too sure how the reaction was going to be, but he needn’t have been worried

For an encore they played some music from Return to the Centre of the Earth and then the final Hall section again, this time with rick out front duelling with the guitar player with Rick playing his over the shoulder synth guitar.

Another standing ovation then he was gone. A wonderful evening of nostalgia and superb music. If you are in two minds as to whether to get a ticket for the remaining shows… I say see it while you can. You won’t be disappointed.


[Dave is a great Englishman from Durham.  He’s also a member of the progressive rock band, Salander.  We’re very proud to have him write for progarchy–ed.]

2 thoughts on “Rick Wakeman Live, April 24, 2014: A Review

  1. dave

    Agree entirely, I was sat 4 rows from front and it was stunning – nice to see the Mini Moogs back ……. I saw him several times during the 80’s when he played horribly thin and nasally Korg stuff. If I was to really picky the choir was slightly lower in the mix than the album and so difficult to hear at times, also all of the build up indicated exciting state of the art visuals from Roger Dean when there were none at all …. either they were dropped for the whole tour or there was no room for them on the city hall stage (some of the string section were in danger of falling of the front of the stage and the guitarist had to move out of the way to let the singers pass enroute to the mikes)!!
    Very minor issues I noticed on what was an absolutely fantastic evening – if you were a Rick fan in the day, then don’t hesitate ………….. it was progtastic!!


  2. Tom Mabon

    What a great night have seen rick a few times over the years and this was one of the best shows I have seen. The orchestra was superb and the choir the only minor criticism I have was the lead male singer was past his best and maybe a younger better voice would have enhanced the performance but apart from this again what a great show go and see.



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