Music Fusion 2001 / Esoteric 2014
Heavy version of Caped Crusader’s caravan rock their all in Buenos Aires.
Gone are the days when the touring version of THE ENGLISH ROCK ENSEMBLE included orchestras, but in 2001, when Rick Wakeman took his entourage across the ocean to South America, there was no need for such frills. A well-oiled six-piece, whose rough-and-ready performance is caught on this CD, take no prisoners here – except for “The Prisoner” – and charge into epics with enviable might and telepathy: not for nothing there’s a steam engine on the cover. It sways from classics like the streamlined “Starship Trooper” to “Buried Alive,” then a fairly recent, if less weighty on-stage, addition to Wakeman’s repertoire, yet it’s other rarities that command the attention now.
The introduction of theatrical “Return Of The Phantom” and “No Earthly Connection” makes this a very special performance which highlights the power of Damian Wilson’s pipes and Lee Pomeroy’s muscular bass, whereas the run through “Journey To The Centre Of The Earth,” a grand opening salvo underlines the unison of the ivories and Ant Glynne’s six-string as well as their slide-enhanced interplay. Still, this piece and the portraits of Henry VIII’s two wives seem too sketchy as if the years had sucked the life from them. Adam Wakeman helps his father to flesh it all out, although sometimes the double-organ approach sounds quite cheesy, despite Tony Fernandez’s spicy drumming, that’s why “Jane Seymour,” stripped off a couple of melodic lines feels deeper than the full-band “Catherine Parr” which spreads too thin tune-wise. But this only adds to the live air of the recording, to its titular immediacy, and opens the doors to "Out There". Not essential, if interesting.