If I scan the list of UK attended concerts since 2001, I find myself wondering which of these I would consider the pick of the bunch.   I would probably choose Yes at the London Apollo, Hammersmith, during the 2001 Yes Symphonic Tour, Yes at the Edinburgh Playhouse in 2003 during the Full Circle Tour or Yes in Glasgow SECC during the 2004 35th Anniversary Tour out of sheer bias, as they are undoubtedly my favourite band.   It was as thrilling as the 1998 Open Your Eyes Tour, which was the first time I had seen the band live. 

This bias aside, I might be tempted to select either the Jan Garbarek Group 2002 Concert or the Remember Shakti 2003 Concert at the Royal Festival Hall in London as the best concert I have attended since having relocated to the UK.  The sheer virtuosity of the musicians present was astounding.  The Festival Hall must rank as one of the best live venues from the point of view of the incredible acoustics. The nucleus of the Jan Garbarek Group band is Jan Garbarek (tenor and soprano saxophones, flute), Eberhard Weber (bass), Rainer Bruninghaus (keyboards) and Marilyn Mazur (percussion).  Having been a collector of ECM-style jazz since my student days, it was a privilege to witness the Norwegian guru in action. Remember Shakti featured guitarist John McLaughlin and percussionist Zakir Hussain. I was in total awe at the sheer brilliance of this band of musicians and the relaxed and warm spirit that prevailed,  expecting it to be a rather intense affair.

From a nostalgic point of view, I have to cite the Rick Wakeman benefit concert in Braintree, Essex, for special mention.   When I first contacted the organisers of the concert, I was informed that the most expensive tickets, which entitled patrons to meet Rick in person at a local restaurant/pub after the show, had all been sold.  Upon expressing my disappointment by explaining that I had been a Yes and Rick Wakeman fan for the best part of three decades and had just arrived from South Africa and was desperate for an opportunity to meet the maestro in person, the pub owner promised to see what he could do.  Needless to say, tickets entitling me to entrance to the pub arrived about a week later.  The concert was held in what resembled a school or church hall. Rick's performance and his virtuosity on the keyboards was inspiring. He included  many of the classic pieces recorded over the years, in his repertoire. 





  Rick Wakeman, aged 32, performs "Journey to The Centre Of The Earth" live at the Durban Arts Festival in South Africa, 1981.

But the highlight of the evening was undoubtedly being able to meet the man in person!  What a personal treat that was!   Rick is the warmest, most down-to-earth character you could wish to meet, in contrast to an aloofness one might expect generally from any musical genius to have aspired to such greatness.  When I presented my copy of his now discontinued 1978 autobiography entitled "Rick Wakeman - The Caped Crusader" for an autograph, he was pleasantly surprised.   But when I thrust before him an original  program commemorating a concert performance of "Journey to the Centre of the Earth" at the Durban City Hall, South Africa, on the 11th and 12th July 1981, as part of the Durban Arts '81 Music Festival, he was totally bowled over, claiming that he had never actually seen the program.


Scrawled across the program centrefold photograph of Rick on keyboards against the impressive backdrop of the Durban City Hall, the inscription read: "To everybody at Durban Arts '81 and all who came from 'God knows where' in South Africa to witness a mad 32 year-old keyboard player on stage...Thanks a million.  I hope to be back soon. Best wishes".   I compared the signature against the one inscribed in the autobiography that evening at the Braintree concert and noticed that that, after all these years, it had barely changed, whereas mine by comparison has degenerated into an unintelligible scrawl. Rick's willingness to chat to those present and pose for photographs and his devotion to the benefit concert's cause, speaks volumes for the thoroughly downright 'bloody' decent person that he is.  So much for the music press. The "prodigal son" subsequently returned to the fold and Rick rejoined Yes on the 2002 tour of North America and the tours of 2003 and 2004. 


    The privilege of meeting rock's greatest keyboardist, Rick Wakeman, at an after-party in Braintree, Essex, in August 2001, had been realised.


- 2005 -




Images from the 2005 Jazz Cafe Picnic Concert at Marble Hill, Twickenham, featuring Morcheeba.


View of the stage at the 2005 Jazz Cafe Picnic Concert; Morcheeba's lead vocalist.


- 2006 -




Rick Wakeman performed "The New Gospels" at Brockdish Church, Norfolk, as part of the Four Churches Festival on Saturday, 27th May 2006. Pictured are Ian Lavender (narrator), Ramon Remedios (lead tenor), Adam and Rick Wakeman (keyboards), Guy Protheroe (conductor of the English Chamber Choir).


Jubilation following the performance of "The New Gospels" at Brockdish Church, Norfolk. Pictured are Ian Lavender (narrator), Ramon Remedios (lead tenor), Guy Protheroe  (conductor of the English Chamber Choir), partly hidden, Rick Wakeman (keyboards) and members of the English Chamber Choir.


    Simple Kid 

Rick Wakeman's son Adam, in almost total disbelief, views an old concert programme dating back to 1981, featuring Rick Wakeman, then aged 32.

GREEN MAN FESTIVAL 2006  Photos - click here - Courtesy of Wyn Gyllie



 Green Man Festival 2006




One the biggest surprises for 2006 was my own personal discovery of progressive rock band IQ, who have been around since the mid 1980's. With the line-up now comprising - Andy Edwards / drums & percussion, - Mike Holmes / guitars & keyboards, - John Jowitt / bass guitar & bass pedals, - Peter Nicholls / lead vocals and - Martin Orford / keyboards & backing vocals, they inevitably draw comparisons to Genesis.  Nonetheless, they are an incredible band of musicians and their beautiful, evocative sound features the haunting yet stunning voice of vocalist Peter Nicholls . Album highlights for me include Ever (1993), The Seventh House (2000) and Dark Matter (2004).  Check out reviews at the ProgArchives website.


IQ lead vocalist Peter Nicholls in costume.


IQ lead vocalist Peter Nicholls - gosh, doesn't he even look like Peter Gabriel?.


A spooky Peter Nicholls.




Tangerine Dream, the grandfathers and pioneers of electronic music, released 'Phaedra' and became one of Richard Branson's first signings to the Virgin record label in the 70's. In 2006, Tangerine Dream re-performed this piece on its 40th anniversary, at London's Shepherd Bush Empire. It was a spectacular concert. In 2007, Tangerine Dream released a beautiful yet mellow vocal album (vocal albums being a rarity as far as they are concerned), a tribute to Syd Barrett, entitled 'Madcaps Flaming Duty', performed at The Astoria in London.  Tangerine dream seem to be enjoying a new lease of late. Their latest studio offering, part one from 'The Five Atomic Series', is entitled 'Springtime in Nagasaki', is a beautiful, uplifting work.


Tangerine Dream live at The Astoria: - Linda Spa (flute, sax and keyboards), Edgar Froese (keyboards and guitar), Chris Hausl (vocals), Thorsten Quaesching (keyboards, guitars and drums), Iris Camaa (percussion and drums) and Bernhard Beibl (guitars).


Tangerine Dream founder member, Edgar Froese, on the 'Strat'.


Linda Spa plays sax whilst the effervescent Iris Camaa pours her energy into the drum kit.


Edgar Froese and Linda Spa.


Iris Camaa on percussion, with co-composer and keyboardist Thorsten Quaesching .


- 2007 -




Marillion at The Forum, Kentish Town, London, in 2007.




Geoff Downes (keyboards) and John Wetton (bass) of Asia


Steve Howe (guitars) of Asia



 [Photos taken using a Nikon Coolpix S10 and in some cases, Nikon D100]


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