Saturday, May 09, 2009

Rick Wakeman: The Six Wives of Henry VIII at Hampton Court

Well as historic, once in a lifetime, musical events go this was one of them.

BIL George is a big Yes fan but SIL Sandra is not, so I got to go with George to see one of Prog rock's icons do something he has *never* done before: play all six wives in the same concert (see article in The Times)

rick wakeman concert at Hampton Court 1
The stage in front of The King Henry Gate

I heard a fascinating Radio 4 interview with Rick giving the full back story to the album and this concert. The transcript of which then turned up, more or less verbatim, in the souvenir programme notes which was nice. He first asked to perform at Hampton Court back in 1973 and was refused permission. Then last year the palace approached him to which his answer was to the effect of "Yes" and "About time! It has only taken you 36 years to give permission!"

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Rick and the English Rock Ensemble

The full concert was a set from The English Chamber Choir, followed by The Acoustic Strawbs then the concert proper: Rick and the English Rock Ensemble supported by the choir and The Orchestra Europa.

The original album was planned to have a seventh track for Henry - "Defender of the Faith" - but the engineer said Rick couldn't record it because they had filled up both sides of a 12" vinyl, such is the limitation of that medium. So Rick reinstated it for this concert plus added extra instrumental solos to fill up a full two hours.

That did include narration from Brian Blessed who hammed it up something rotton. One amusing incident was when, in response to a good natured heckler, he gave us a hearty rendition of "Gordon's alive!"

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Rick Wakeman on Keyboards

The icing on the cake was that did an instant CD of that very concert. Only 10 minutes after the concert ended the CD's were spitting out of the machine. A limited edition 3 disc: 2 for the concert and one of photos. How is that for a souvenir! If they have not sold all 1000 you can still order online.

Only two nights, only 5000 seats per night, never to be repeated. It was a privilege to be there. Thank you George and thank you Rick!

[The Times review], [FT review]

Pictures courtesy of


TheAnneBoleynFiles said...

That looks an amazing concert, I'm so jealous of you!

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Rosa said...

At first, I thought this was still in NO (reading backwards, I'm afraid!). Perfect mardi gras colors! I never was a Yes fan either, SIL.