at The Glasshouse, Gateshead, U.K., February 25, 2024

RICK WAKEMAN (Live at The Glasshouse, Gateshead, U.K., February 25, 2024)
Photo: Mick Burgess

What better way to celebrate the Golden Anniversary of the release of keyboard wizard Rick Wakeman’s, celebrated Journey To The Centre Of The Earth opus than to present it, not only in its entirety, but with an additional 40 minutes or so that was cut from the original score due to the time constraints of vinyl?

With a show split across two parts, the first delved into Wakeman’s illustrious past with Prog Rock legends Yes and kicked off with their stage favourite “Roundabout” before heading into a rather mesmerising “The Yes Suite” which included new takes on “The Meeting”, “Wonderous Stories”, where Wakeman chuckled as he recalled appearing on Top of the Pops only for them to fall down the charts the following week and “South Side of the Sky”.

Closing the first set with “And You And I” from the classic Closer To The Edge release featuring some fine guitar work, both acoustic and electric from Dave Colquhoun while the gorgeous, dreamy vocals of Mollie Marriott suited the music perfectly.

Wakeman announced a short “bladder break” for those of a certain age with his customary wry smile before Part 2 commenced.

First performed in 1974, “Journey To The Centre Of The Earth” was based on the timeless Jules Verne novel of the same name with Wakeman putting the story to music complete with narration to create a piece that was cinematic in scope on a grand scale.

From the opening “The Preface” and “The Journey Overture” through the choral epic “Fervent Prayer” featuring some stirring vocals from Tess Burrstone, Izzy Chase and Nick Shirm to the Funky vibe of “The Reunion”, this was one thrilling ride with musicianship that was off the scale, whether it was Wakeman’s mazy runs across his Mini Moog in “The Tunnel” or the layers of cathedral-esq organ augmented by Wakeman’s son, Adam, adding a real sense of drama to the ongoing storyline, this was startling stuff.

It may all sound rather poe-faced and serious but far from it. Wakeman’s sense of humour shined throughout the night while bassist Lee Pomeroy delighted in jesting around with everyone else of the stage – he was clearly having an absolute blast while simultaneously laying down some complex bass lines.

A stirring climax of Edvard Grieg’s “In The Hall Of The Mountain King” and “Mount Etna” brought the story to a suitably bombastic end.

Although a tough act to follow, Wakeman pulled it out of the bag for the encore with the Yes classic, “Starship Trooper”, complete with a couple of short solo spots from Pomeroy and Colquhoun, before the two Wakeman’s performed a keytar duel at the front of the stage to round the night off in style.


  • Mick Burgess

    Mick is a reviewer and photographer here at Metal Express Radio, based in the North-East of England. He first fell in love with music after hearing Jeff Wayne's spectacular The War of the Worlds in the cold winter of 1978. Then in the summer of '79 he discovered a copy of Kiss Alive II amongst his sister’s record collection, which literally blew him away! He then quickly found Van Halen I and Rainbow's Down To Earth, and he was well on the way to being rescued from Top 40 radio hell!   Over the ensuing years, he's enjoyed the Classic Rock music of Rush, Blue Oyster Cult, and Deep Purple; the AOR of Journey and Foreigner; the Pomp of Styx and Kansas; the Progressive Metal of Dream Theater, Queensrÿche, and Symphony X; the Goth Metal of Nightwish, Within Temptation, and Epica, and a whole host of other great bands that are too numerous to mention. When he's not listening to music, he watches Sunderland lose more football (soccer) matches than they win, and occasionally, if he has to, he goes to work as a property lawyer.

    View all posts

Be the first to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.


This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

The reCAPTCHA verification period has expired. Please reload the page.