Review and Photos by Fred Kuhlman
Promoter: Danny Zelisko Presents (https://www.dannyzeliskopresents.com/ )
Venue: Celebrity Theatre (https://celebritytheatre.com/ )
Date: Wednesday March 2nd, 2022
Tour: The Even Grumpier Old Rock Star Tour 2022
One of the new things older rock stars are doing these days is to have a show where they perform and at the same time tell stories about their life and music. If you haven’t been at one of these shows you are really missing out on a great time and information you typically would never hear. One of my favorites is Al Jardine (will be in the valley later this month) when he tells stories about the Beach Boys. I can now add a new artist to the list of great story tellers, Rick Wakeman. For those that don’t know or remember, Rick was the keyboardist of the Progressive Rock band YES in the late 60s and early 70s. He was part of YES when they did their classic albums, Close to the Edge, Fragile, The Yes Album and their live album Yessongs. Rick also had a strong solo carrier with albums, Journey to the Center of the Earth, The Six Wives of Henry VIII and his newest 2020 album The Red Planet. He is considered one of the best keyboardists in rock history.
Rick portrays himself as a “Grumpy old rock star”, but tonight he was just the opposite. He was entertaining and very personable. His new solo show is a combination of music, stories and jokes. As he told us about his stories, “They might not be 100% true, but you have to figure out what part isn’t true”. Most of his jokes were about the small town he lives in England and the strange people that live there. Other stories were about his friends in the rock business. He would tell a joke or story and then would play a song on either his synthesizer keyboard or the grand piano. One of his stories was about his good friends John Lord (Deep Purple) and Keith Emerson (ELP) and how they were going to get together and create an album together. Unfortunately, both John and Keith died before they were able to create it. As a tribute to his friends, he played “Gone But Not Forgotten”. There is a fantastic version of this done by Rick on his official YouTube channel that was recorded in 2018.
The majority of songs performed by Rick were from his solo carrier including 3 from The Six Wives of Henry VIII. Another amazing song he performed was done on the synthesizer keyboard where he configured it to sound like a church organ. He used a backing track of a full orchestra on another song as he accompanied it on the grand piano. The show was divided into 2 parts with a 20-minute intermission. During the second part of the show, he took questions that people had provided before the show and answered them. He also came up with a list of acronyms for older people. I am not going into all of the stories or jokes because you really need to go and see and hear Rick as he tells them.
I love going to these types of shows. I learn so much about the artist, his life and the music. I understand that you can read about it in books and online, but it seems special when the artist tells you about it personally. I will continue to go to shows like this (I will se Al Jardine for the 4th time later this month). Also, how can you go wrong seeing any show at the Celebrity Theatre. It is one of the premier concert venues in the greater Phoenix area. Its sound system is outstanding and even the worst seat is great and only about 75 ft from the stage.
Photos by Fred Kuhlman, All Rights Reserved