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Wakeman, Rick: The Six Wives Of Henry VIII Live at Hampton Court Palace (DVD)

After hearing (and reviewing) the CD of this once in a lifetime concert, the DVD was a must have. With the kind of fanfare that this type of outing generated, I was sure that the visual would only add to the overall experience of reacquainting myself with one of the landmark albums in the history of progressive rock and roll.

The setting is Hampton Court, the home of Henry VIII and the time is the 500th anniversary of his accession to the throne. Wakeman had tried to play there at the time the album came out 36 years prior but was rebuked by the powers that be. Times were a little different back then and the idea of a rock concert in such a place was unheard of. Although they offered Rick the use of Albert Hall or the Royal Festival Hall he said that if it wasn't Hampton Court then forget it. Well, all good things come to those that wait. For the festival in 2009 it was the powers to be that sought out Wakeman and asked him to perform.

So with all the pomp you can imagine as only the English can muster for such an event, Wakeman takes the stage to finally see his dream come true. Escorted by the six women who represent Henry's wives, Rick in full velvet regalia takes up his spot behind the multitude of keyboards and proceeds to create a spectacular that came best described as one of the magical moments in live performances.

Backed by the English Rock Ensemble and across the stage from the Orchestra Europa with the English Chamber Choir behind them, Wakeman could finally present his opus with the majesty it deserved. While many may think that this concert was much ado about nothing, the people who have a deep love of progressive music know that this will be a special moment. It is one that is never to be repeated according to Mr. Wakeman.

Those who are looking to purchase this DVD will be familiar with the album The Six Wives of Henry VII I am sure. So I will not go into detail about the music itself except to say that the addition of the new intro called "Tudorture" and the finale "Tudorock" are magnificent additions to a classic piece of music. Rick also has restored the song "Defender Of The Faith" which is a song about Henry himself that was left off the original vinyl due to space limitations.

Narrator for the evening, Brian Blessed adds a bit of English whimsy as he gives a brief history of each wife preceding her musical interlude. He might seem a bit out of place here in jeans and reading from a script but his wit and charm will finally win you over before the concert is through. What he tells about the wives is also in the enclosed booklet along with a lot of great insight into how the original disc came to be. It also includes background on the musicians who helped pull this off. It is filled with a wealth of information that is priceless.

Now for the highlights. I don't want to give too much away but one moment that stands out is when Rick strolls to center stage and climbs the stairway that is there as a drape drops revealing a humongous pipe organ for him to deliver the song "Jane Seymour". It is vintage Wakeman.

Another moment that really grabs you is when they bring out Henry's own number "Defender Of The Faith". This song is put back where it is suppose to be and really is a magnificent piece. Hard to believe that it could have been left off the original.

Then there is the finale where Rick brings out son Adam to duel with him on keytars to the fabulous new song written just for this occasion "Tudorock". You can tell that both father and son are enjoying it and both have a passion for what they are playing. It is great to see the younger Wakeman showing the respect that his dad has earned.

All in all this is a package that is a must have for prog rock fans. It is really a part of history. The music is phenomenal and the stage presentation is just what you would expect for a spectacle of this magnitude. You will not be disappointed.

There is also a behind the scenes portion with Rick showing what goes into the making of this event. He also does a hilarious walk around and introduces you to some of the players. It is a real moment that lets you see a side of Rick not often filmed. He is one of the founding fathers of this genre and this DVD shows you that he is as important today as he was when this music first emerged.

Track listing:

1. Henry's Fanfare
2. Tudorture "1485"
3. Catherine Of Aragon
4. Kathryn Howard
5. Jane's Prelude
6. Jane Seymour
7. Defender Of The Faith
8. Katherine Parr
9. Anne Of Cleves
10. Anne Boleyn
11. Tudorock
12. Tudorture "1485"

Added: February 16th 2010
Reviewer: Scott Ward
Related Link: Wakeman's Official Page
Hits: 2246
Language: english

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