Roll over Beethoven
From page 88 of Classic Rock Magazine May 2005
It’s pomp rock at its most grandiose, as caped keyboardist Rick Wakemean tours his epic Journey... with an orchestra.
RICK WAKEMAN Journey To The Centre Of The Earth
On February 4, 1975, keyboard maestro Rick Wakeman, his band, a narrator, an orchestra and a choir appeared together at Melbourne’s Sydney Myer Concert Bowl as Wakeman’s international Journey To The Centre Of The Earth tour neared its conclusion. Apart from anything else it might have been, here was pomp rock at its most grandiose.
This 30th anniversary ‘collector’s edition’ DVD of that show immortalises the 94-minute performance, and serves, perhaps, to explain why this kind of collaborative philharmonic experimentation plunged into decline as the decades passed.
You have to hand it to Wakeman.
Resplendent in a long, white-and-silver cloak, his mane of blond hair swirling round his shoulders as he swoops on his banks of keyboards, he has mastered the fusion of classical music and rock with a flamboyance unmatched by anyone before or since.
His albums The Six Wives Of Henry VIII, Journey To The Centre Of The Earth and The Myths And Legends Of King Arthur – all represented in the concert, with Journey... as its centrepiece – were huge hits in the early 70s, although today’s street- smart audiences are much more likely to be bored than bewitched by such a piece of music, appalled rather than awe-struck.
Wakeman travels well beyond the expectations of the average prog-rock fan, inflating his tales of legend, fantasy and historical drama to the level of overblown pomp, while soloing endlessly (with aplomb, it has to be said) like the classically trained musician he is.
By contrast, the accompanying feature included here, The Lost Journey, is warm and involving, as Wakeman and four of his band members from the time gather together today to lookback at their home- movie tour footage and relive the experience of this “total theatre”.
Chuckling at the head-spinning logistics of continuously moving an entourage of several hundred people from city to city, and with Wakeman revealing that he personally funded the tour (which apparently lost a quarter of a million dollars), they still agree it was “the happiest time ever”, and their anecdotes, fondly told, would seem to confirm that.
■■■■■■ ■■■■ Carol Clerk