Showing posts with label MA. Show all posts
Showing posts with label MA. Show all posts


Concert Review: Rick Wakeman-The Even Grumpier Old Rock Star Tour

Rick Wakeman - The Even Grumpier Old Rock Star Tour

 In Concert At The Academy of Music - Northampton, MA

October 15, 2021

Photo Provided By David Barnum


Rick Wakeman is a name synonymous with the terms “rock star,” “rock legend” and “keyboard wizard.” He has been around long enough to be tagged as the progenitor of those very terms. His time with various incarnations of the Yes group members, to prolific solo recordings dating back to 60’s, populates his immense cannon of work.

I have seen Rick perform with the classic Yes lineup and the 80’s lineup that featured Geoff Downes. I have been a fan of Yes and Rick’s solo albums for many years.

This was an event that held a lot of anticipation for me and I understood it was going to be just Rick and his keyboards. There was a bit more to it than that however, he told humorous jokes and stories in between each song. And quite honestly, I found nothing “grumpy” about it at all. That tag is definitely a hint at the kind humor this gent likes to share.  I got a good idea of this man’s sense of humor when I interviewed him in July 2020 shortly after the release of his fantastic album The Red Planet, which I had the opportunity to review as well.

The venue in Northampton is a beautiful and intimate seating arrangement. I have never been that up close with any of Rick’s performances. This particular performance gave me an opportunity to see his artistry in all its glory. In the purest sense of the word, Rick is a musical genius. How he remembers how to play all of those lengthy tracks like selections from The Six Wives of Henry The VIII and Return To The Journey of The Center of The Earth is beyond my understanding.  His brain is most certainly wired quite different than us average folk.

The opening track, “Seahorses,” was quite different than anything I had heard from Rick. It was a beautiful ambient arrangement and would not set the tone for what we would listen to going forward.  “Katherine of Aragon/Catherine Howard” was excellent, and the changes that those two songs went through boggled the mind.  The acoustic piano certainly has a way of interpreting songs quite differently, and there is no comparison between that and an electronic keyboard. Although there was an appreciative crowd in attendance, the response to “YES Medley: The Meeting/And You And I/Wonderous Stories” received a rousing round of applause. That did not take away a thing from his solo pieces, but I believe it was more of a familiarity thing for fans of Rick and Yes.

I really appreciated how Rick goes about his business on stage. Watching him play is really something. He works the keyboards with precision and each hand is doing something entirely different. The effect of that concise and rapid playing of the keys is astounding, and it comes out sounding like two people are playing.

                                     Photo Provided By David Barnum


I always counted Rick as the best keyboard player in the world and still do with Jordan Rudess right there with him. His level of musicianship and retainment of music is coming from a different level of insight than most. He has been in demand with artist such as David Bowie and Prince. This long line of musical partnerships is a rare thing in music and his output still continues with newly recorded selections and his busy schedule touring.

The one thing that caught me off guard was the need to provide proof of vaccination for COVID. I do carry my card so that was not an issue. What I was told by a staff member there was that it was city mandate and a necessity requested by the artist. I understand why Rick or any other artist would do it. Making music and performing is their livelihood and they cannot afford to be exposed to such a thing that could have dreadful and debilitating consequences.

If you are a fan of Rick Wakeman’s music and wish to see him in a more intimate setting and learn about his life in music, with the added pleasure of his distinct English humor, then I would highly recommend attending one these events.

Keith “MuzikMan” Hannaleck-October 16, 2021



Morning Has Broken

Katherine of Aragon/Catherine Howard

YES Medley: The Meeting/And You And I/Wonderous Stories

Jane Seymour

Dance of 1000 Lights

Space Oddity/Life on Mars

Help/Eleanor Rigby

Merlin The Magician


My sincerest gratitude to Chipster PR for providing the passes to the show and David Barnum for the wonderful selection of professional photographs.


Concert Review: The Blues Show at the Colonial Theater

The Blues Show at the Colonial Theater-Pittsfield, MA
February 15, 2014

Saturday, February 15th, the Colonial Theatre in Pittsfield MA had its second edition of “The Blues Show.” In the midst of the snowstorm, there were still many in attendance and the bands were on fire. This year, Pittsfield was treated to a diverse group of blues veterans - The George Boone Blues Band, Popa Chubby, and Roomful of Blues.

The George Boone Blues Band brought a very traditional, soulful style of blues to the show. It was simple, yet this simplicity had the power to transport listeners to a smoky blues bar somewhere in the Deep South. What Mr. Boone’s voice lacked in musicality, he made up for with pure soul. Listeners of modern day, highly processed Top 40 radio might cringe when hearing his voice, but it’s that pure, untouched voice that makes his singing so special. While the set was as solid as could be, their original track “Meaning of the Blues” and cover of The Temptations “My Girl” were the standout performances.

Popa Chubby then came to the stage, opening up the set with a fiery rendition of Jimi Hendrix’s “Hey Joe.” According to him, there was some “negative energy” in the crowd, which could only be cured by some classic Hendrix. Popa’s blazing fast fretwork was quite a change from George Boone’s slower, more cautious playing. That’s not to say that Popa Chubby can’t tone it down when the moment is right – his renditions of “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” and “Hallelujah” were surprising and beautiful additions to the set. As usual, Popa’s unique humor and energy brought the crowd to life in a way that would be difficult to follow up.

Roomful of Blues has had a roster of over 40 members in its lifetime, and Rich Lataille (alto and tenor saxophone) is the only original member remaining. Many of the band members were relatively young, which made it a little strange when they mentioned that 2014 marks their 45thanniversary. The live band consists of 8 members, and this lent itself to a very full sounding mix. The brass section gave the band an energy that the previous acts lacked, and Phil Pemberton (vocals) brought the music alive with his excellent rock n’ roll voice. Although they couldn’t quite get the crowd going like the charismatic Popa Chubby could, Roomful of Blues still ended ‘The Blues Show’ on a good note. It will be exciting to see who the Colonial Theatre brings to next year’s blues show, but I’ve got a feeling that crowd-favorite Popa Chubby will be back for his third consecutive year.

Austin Hannaleck


Review Provided By Write A Music Review