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Rick Wakeman and the English Rock Ensemble – Live in Buenos Aires DVD (and bonus CD)

Rick Wakeman and the English Rock Ensemble – Live in Buenos Aires DVD (and bonus CD)Rick Wakeman formed the original English Rock Ensemble back in the seventies as his band to perform Journey To The Centre Of The Earth.  Over the years the personnel have changed but the partnership continues.  This concert was recorded in Buenos Aires in 1997 to a packed Argentinean audience in the large all-seated Gran Rex Theatre.

No surprises that this performance consists of a lot of old favourites.  As Rick says, if you have been around for many years and have built up an extensive catalogue of songs it is likely that at least 85% of material performed is going to be stuff that people know.  Tracks here include all the Catherines from The Six Wives Of Henry VIII, Merlin The Magician and Lancelot and the Black Knight from King Arthur, Journey without the narrative, 1984 and well known YES track Starship Trooper (no, not the single featuring Hot Gossip!).  I can almost hear you groaning “we’ve heard it all before!”  Well, no you haven’t, at least, not this version.  All the songs have been re-arranged for this performance resulting in a snappy, sometimes jazzy, speeded up version for the present day.  In fact it all sounds so fresh and full of energy it is hard to believe that most of this music was written some 20- to 30 years since.

New to the line up is Damian Wilson on vocals, best known in the prog world for his work with Landmarq and Threshold, but did you know he also toured with Les Miserables?  Damian is one of rock’s rarities inasmuch as he is able to adapt his voice for both hard and soft rock requirements whilst hitting the right notes.  Bryan May look-a-like Ant Glynne (guitars) and Rick’s son, Adam (keyboards) provide backing vocals.  Lee Pomeroy (bass) and ERE stalwart Tony Fernadez complete the line up.  This band is tight and a joy to listen to and watch as they reinterpret Rick’s works.  And Rick’s no slouch either – this is as perfect a performance with a full band as you are likely to hear.  The concert part of the DVD lasts for 95 minutes.

The DVD features a 14 minute interview with Rick back home at Classic Pictures HQ where he tells us of his pleasure of playing to large theatre audiences (just like the good old days) and we also find out how and why he came to wear capes.  You’ll have to get the DVD to find out.

Technical Aspects

Sound and picture quality are second to none.  What more can I say?

Package Features (Inc. CD Details)

The CD “The Official Bootleg” is a recording of Rick and The English Rock Ensemble live at Ronnie Scotts, Birmingham in July 1977. The band line-up differs to that of the DVD – Chrissie Hammond takes over on vocals, Alan Thompson is on bass and Stuart Sawney plays guitar on the track Wurm.  The track listing which also differs includes cover versions of Paint It Black and Eleanor Rigby (complete with Cossack dancers).  Lure Of The Wild (great track), Robot Man, extracts from King Arthur, After Prayers and Starship Trooper all feature.  I saw Rick and his band some six or seven years ago and I was mesmerised by four things about Chrissie Hammond:  her striking appearance, her dominant voice, her fishnet stockings and, as imaginary cake guru Mr Kipling might say, her exceedingly long legs.  Unfortunately, this is only a CD.  The recording quality is to reasonable bootleg standard; the sound ‘hunts’ slightly especially noticeable during heavier sequences which could be due to an audio limiter (automatic gain control) somewhere in the recording set and/or the height of the ceiling or room size causing secondary pressure on the stage microphones (overload).  Whatever, it is the only known recording of this particular line-up and it sounds quite good through headphones.

The DVD has an animated menu giving access to individual tracks and the interview ‘Rick Wakeman – behind The Music.  The track listings and personnel line-ups for both the CD and DVD are detailed on the inside of the DVD tray.

The DVD is multi region PAL, Dolby© Surround Sound, total running time 110 minutes. 

Cat No:  DVD1095X.

Summary

Not only can I highly recommend this DVD package, I implore you to get it.  Not only is the performance and the arrangement of classic tunes first class, but also the picture and sound quality (DVD) are near perfection.  This substantiates the purchase of a DVD player (and amp and speaker system…).  If I were to awards marks out of ten, which I don’t, I’d give it nine (nobody gets a ten!).

Jem Jedrzejewski

Rick Wakeman website

Classic Pictures website

 

 

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