Saturday, March 12, 2022

Rick Wakeman at the Amaturo Theater, March 11, 2022

After a cancellation due to Covid that actually worked out quite well, thank you, the Missus and I attended the Rick Wakeman show along his 'Even Grumpier Old Rock Star' US tour at the Amaturo Theater in beautiful downtown Ft Lauderdale last night.

If it was not a long show by anyone's imagination, I did have loads of fun. Rick had a Steinway piano off to stage right, a microphone in the middle, and a Korg to the left. He'd hop in his bright white sneakers (you can seem 'em in the photo!) between the three positions depending on whether he wanted to play something acoustic, tell a ribald story, or play something electric. Highlights for me on the Steinway were the first number after the intermission, which was a medley of the two Catherines on Six Wives (the Aragon one, and the Howard one) and "Merlin the Magician," from Myths and Legends," betcha guessed.

His stories--almost always funny--were primarilly in either of two camps; either something mildly off-color from his Mega-Rockstar days, or something mildly off-color about the depradations of being old. He also told an actually poignant (though also off-color) story about his friendships with Keith Emerson and Jon Lord, that I'll probably remember most.

The best on the Korg was probably "Jane Seymour," you know the pipe organ one, and man, was I impressed by how much his little skinny keyboard sounded so goddamned much like some massive unit built into the nave end of a 600-year old Anglican church. As I was listening, I was pretty sure that was a perfect segue for Grumpy Rick to talk about the transmogrifying effects of our modern technology, but no, he didn't mention it afterward, though I noted that there was a credit in the tour book for the guy who programmed the pipe organ routine.

The other electric highlight was a Beatles medley he did toward the end, an interpretative medley in which he got to flash his classically-trained ear and chops with "Help!" as if it were written by Saint-Saens, and "Eleanor Rigby" as if it were by Prokofiev. I liked the Revolver cover better, but Melanie enjoyed the soundtrack tune better. Either way, it was an impressive flash, in, really, a show full of them. No capes, no smoke machines, and certainly no costumed knights on ice, but Mr. Wakeman's ten flexibile digits, 72 years old though they may be, still work quite well.

The song that he sent us off with was a dazzling "Life on Mars," on which he originally played of course, and it sort of circled round to the Emerson and Lord story. Enjoy and appreciate your artists while they're still around, is what I read from the encore choice--and I was left then with an appreciation that I'd attended, on a couple different levels.

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