Rick Wakeman - Journey to the Centre of the Earth

  • Music
  • Classical and opera
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© Lee Wilkinson
The former caped keyboardist for Yes, nowadays a professional Grumpy Old Man, brings his bombastic, orchestral prog-rock adaptation of Jules Verne's novel to the stage. The original version, recorded live at a sold-out Royal Festival Hall show in 1974, topped the charts and has since sold over 15 million copies. This will be the first full performance since then, so it should be a hot ticket. Combining the original piece with Wakeman's 1999 sequel 'Return to the Centre of the Earth', this show has prolific ’70s album sleeve artist Roger Dean as its creative director, so it should be as spectacularly in-your-face as it is musically overblown. Twiddly, virtousic variations on enormous banks of synthesizers, towering projections and a full orchestra and choir await you. Like Verne's characters entering the crater of Snæfell, you venture forward at your own peril.

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Peter B

The shorter first half was a bit of fun - Rick telling how 'Journey' came about, some funny stories and a few songs. Then came the second half - the wonderful spectacle of 'Journey' in its full glory - Orchestra, Choir, Rock Band and Rick combining to produce a magical musical soundscape. I was genuinely moved to think that this tour was the first time 'Journey' had been performed full and live since the 70's and I thoroughly enjoyed the experience. It was a great touch to include 'Dance of a thousand lights' from 'Return Journey' and the new material whilst not high lights - 'The battle' was my personal favourite -  blended seamlessly in. The encore was such that only Rick can do - great fun and full of energy. A quibble some might have is that there was really no multi-media experience, just two screens displaying rather uninspiring pictures of underground rock scenes etc. But, hey, I was there for the music, and what music it was!