At The Keswick Theater, Glenside, Pennsylvania: I admit I was quite skeptical when the opportunity arrived to see Rick Wakeman’s 2006 Grand Piano Tour. I was expecting dinosaur rock ‘n’ roll from a dinosaur musician but instead we were all treated to an outstanding night of music from a man who is a true keyboard virtuoso.
Wakeman played alone on his grand piano all evening. He didn’t have a band and he didn’t need one. He performed music from all phases of his career and regaled us with extremely humorous and detailed stories about every piece. We heard music from his days with the Strawbs. He played two Yes classics, “Wondorous Stories” and the lengthy but superb “And You And I” from Yes’ Close To The Edge. He played half of his 1972 solo album The Six Wives Of Henry The VIII and an instrumental version of “Morning Has Broken,” the Cat Stevens classic. Fans of that song should listen closely the next time you hear it, because it is Wakeman playing his own arrangement on the singer-songwriter’s huge hit single. The record features some of the most beautiful piano playing ever to grace a pop hit.