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Wetton, John: Akustika - Live In Amerika / Akustika II Return To Amerika

The planning behind this double live release began before the sad death of legendary UK, Asia, King Crimson, Wetton Downes (iCon) and solo artist, John Wetton. This double pack bringing together the previously available Akustika ďż˝ Live In Amerika and the first time release of Akustika II ďż˝ Return To Amerika. The first of the two discs was recorded at various shows across the USA in October 1995 and finds the man known for his peerless vocals and bass playing switching between acoustic guitar, piano and, of course, vocals for what is a quite stunning solo showcase. Covering different ears of his career, UK tracks such as "Thirty Years" and "Rendezvous 6:02" through classic Asia numbers such as the storming show opening "Voice Of America", "Only Time Will Tell" and, as you'd expect, "Heat Of The Moment", are rolled out with John's voice in quite magnificent form. Add in "Book Of Saturday" from the all too short Crimson days and lesser known gems such as "Hold Me Now" and "Battle Lines" and it's easy to understand why the various audiences captured across this disc are enthralled by what they hear. The addition of "Christina" from the Wetton Downes album being a nice touch; this song for John's god-daughter another example of the man's fine songwriting.

Ten years on and disc two found a man on a very different journey, the honest, heartfelt liner notes by Matt 'Mattman' Herring revealing a musician playing his first show after his voyage back to sobriety after well publicised and also public displays of his struggles. Herring first being moved to contact his musical hero after witnessing a shambolic performance at a 2002 John Wetton fan convention. Building a bond and a friendship, Herring then organised a comeback of sorts for Wetton, Return To Amerika, rather unusually, documenting the evening entertainment at a comic convention ďż˝ in the guise of a certain Mr Wetton. More understated and stripped back than the older performance, John's voice shows the ravages of time and lifestyle, and yet this is a captivating listen, the lyrics of the likes of Asia's "Sole Survivor" taking on new meaning in this setting. The crowd may well be more muted ďż˝ after all this was recorded in a hall in the convention space in what (from the small photos in the booklet) appears to be the most modest of surrounds; no actual stage, or show-lighting in place. And yet as John works his way through Crimson's "Starless" and "The Night Watch", Asia's "The Smile Has Left Your Eyes" and the iCon piece, "Meet Me At Midnight", so he grows into the performance. This may never be the most grand of shows captured featuring John Wetton's immeasurable talents, but it certainly is one of the most affecting, as you become one with the journey.

It's not often a reissue arrives with bonus material that genuinely adds value to the original, however this is definitely one of those rare occasions. Live In Amerika may well be the more technically perfect and grand of the two shows collected here, but there's no denying the significance Return To Amerika played in what was a comeback and resurgence cut tragically short. In that light it proves both a moving and captivating experience.


Track Listing
DISC ONE
1. VOICE OF AMERICA
2. HOLD ME NOW
3. RENDEZVOUS 6:02
4. CHRISTINA
5. 30 YEARS
6. ONLY TIME WILL TELL
7. BOOK OF SATURDAY
8. DON'T CRY
9. BATTLE LINES
10. THE SMILE HAD LEFT YOUR EYES
11. HEAT OF THE MOMENT
12. YOU'RE NOT THE ONLY ONE


DISC TWO
1. WALKING ON AIR
2. MEET ME AT MIDNIGHT
3. SOLE SURVIVOR
4. BOOK OF SATURDAY
5. EMMA
6. DAYS LIKE THESE
7. THIRTY YEARS / HOLD ME NOW
8. ARKANGEL
9. RENDEZVOUS 6:02
10. STARLESS
11. VOICE OF AMERICA
12. WOMAN
13. THE NIGHT WATCH
14. THE SMILE HAS LEFT YOUR EYES
15. HEAT OF THE MOMENT

Added: May 7th 2018
Reviewer: Steven Reid
Score:
Related Link: Akustika/Akustika II at Cherry Red
Hits: 367
Language: english

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» SoT Staff Roundtable Reviews:

Wetton, John: Akustika - Live In Amerika / Akustika II Return To Amerika
Posted by Jon Neudorf, SoT Staff Writer on 2018-05-08 03:23:46
My Score:

Progressive rock legend John Wetton passed away on January 31, 2017. A very sad day for music fans across the world. His work as an artist is extensive; King Crimson, Asia, iCon, UK and a lengthy solo discography. He certainly left his fans with a massive body of work. Here is another album for Wetton fans to wrap their ears around. This is a double live set titled Akustika / Akustika II. The first disc is a re-mastered version of Wetton’s original 1995 release. The second disc is another live acoustic recording from 2005 that has not been released until now. Both albums feature just Wetton and his acoustic guitars and grand piano. For those wanting a progressive rock fix this isn’t it. What you get is Wetton’s music stripped down to the bare essentials with no place to hide. I have to say Wetton pulls this off with great aplomb.

CD 1 begins with “Voice of America” featuring a beautiful melody on the grand piano and Wetton’s deeply impassioned vocals. With “Hold Me Now” it’s just voice and acoustic guitar and is as equally poignant as the first track. Wetton’s skill on the piano comes through on the UK tune “Rendezvous 6:02”, another wonderful rendition. Really, Wetton sounds great on every track. More classics include “Battle Lines”, “The Smile Has Left Your Eyes”, “Only Time Will Tell” and of course “Heat of the Moment”. Sure we’ve heard this track countless times but it does hold up well to the stripped down arrangement. Wetton’s vocals on “Only Time Will Tell” are pretty much perfect and the acoustic guitar on Asia’s “Don’t Cry” sounds great as well.

The second disc begins with a moody take on Crimson’s “Walking on Air”. At times Wetton’s voice has a fragile beauty about it making the song all the more poignant. “Meet Me at Midnight”, an iCon track, lends itself well to just piano and vocals as the melody comes through in a very pure way. The classic Asia tune “Sole Survivor” increases the tempo featuring skillfully played acoustic riffs and Wetton’s soulful vocals. More outstanding acoustic guitar can be heard in King Crimson’s “Book of Saturday”, especially the intro.

For Wetton fans both of these concerts should be heard. If you never purchased Akustika when it was originally released there is no better time than now as you also get the equally impressive Akustika II. Highly recommended.




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