Gig review: Rick Wakeman

Rick Wakeman. Picture: Getty
Rick Wakeman. Picture: Getty
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BUDGETS for inflatable dinosaurs being what they were back in the early 1970s, Rick Wakeman’s symphonic rock adaptation of Journey To The Centre of the Earth was only performed live on three occasions, but the abridged album version went on to sell in its millions.

Rick Wakeman - Clyde Auditorium, Glasgow

**

Forty years later, the affable Wakeman has made a return visit to this particular pomp folly, supplying some aural sleevenotes during a bizarre first half, involving cabaret versions of Life On Mars, Summertime and his own ridiculous electro-classical take on Eleanor Rigby alongside anecdotal tributes to Cat Stevens and David Bowie, who encouraged him to pursue such outlandish artistic ambitions in the first place.

In practise, Journey is an uncomfortable marriage of orchestral pomp, mawkish MOR pop, stodgy rock interludes, Wakeman’s once-futuristic, now anachronistic synth flourishes and straight-faced lyrics about “studded limpid tears forming magic chandeliers”.

Actor Philip Franks pulled off the plummy narration and the Glasgow Singers supplied the portentous choral drama but Strictly Come Dancing singer Hayley Sanderson was out of her depth as a soloist and, while fans welcomed original Journey vocalist Ashley Holt with fondness, he struggled to muster the lungpower required for such a venture.

The Orion Symphony Orchestra did not want for energy and spirit, only a more suitable score for a sci-fi adventure than this poor man’s precursor to Jeff Wayne’s War Of The Worlds. The inflatable battling dinosaurs may have been absent but the keytar/guitar duel in the encore achieved much the same effect.

Seen on 06.05.14