Coming to Town - Live in Katowice
Oliver Wakeman Band DVD/CD
Tim Jones from Record Collector review
Wakeman Junior and co. on fiery form in Poland
Recorded for both CD and a sumptuous DVD package, Coming To Town was cut in Katowice in 2007 and saw the current Yes keyboard wiz and his quartet (including Landmarq tub-thumber Dave Wagstaffe) truly on song.
Taking in over a dozen tracks from solo, band and collaborative efforts, the band fronted by Paul Manzi plundered through Mother's Ruin material and several numbers from Clive Nolan co-works interpreting the literary classics (Jabberwocky, The Hound Of The Baskervilles).
Mixing stomping rockers such as the uptempo Walk Away and Don't Come Running with shimmering ballads (The Burgundy Rose), as well as gripping instrumental showcases like Three Broken Threads, the band served up a variegated prog/pomp concoction that followed in Oliver's father's footsteps while striding out with aplomb.
Imhotep website review
I don't know if being the son of legendary Rick Wakeman has put a lot of pressure on Oliver. Apparently there is no need to worry. Oliver Wakeman has already built a name for himself. He's not only a great keyboard player but also a fantastic composer with a superb sense of building beautiful melodies.
When this musical virtuoso wants to record or perform live most singers and musicians would be honoured to join him. From this concert it's obvious that he chooses from the top shelf. Paul Manzi handles the vocals superbly. What a wonderful and well trained voice this man possesses! David Mark Pearce plays guitar perfectly and Paul Brown appears on bass. Dave Wagstaffe can be seen and heard from his drum kit. Although Mr Wakeman himself obviously has a central position the stage is also dominated by Mr Manzi and Mr Pearce with ample space for Mr Brown and Mr Wagstaffe.
This is by no means the most action filled and eventful live show I've seen. In fact it's simply five great musicians playing their music in all simplicity for an appreciative audience.
When it comes to progressive rock of this high calibre there is in many ways no really simple way of performing it. So, just observing the musicians as one leans back to take in the beautiful music is entertainment enough in itself.
What really catch my attention on this dvd are the many wonderful songs and emotional ballads. Every song is performed with emotions combined with musical perfection. I think I would recommend the version with the bonus CD as the music in itself is the focal point of this concert and subsequent release.
If you love melodic progressive rock, bluesy rock or simply a sucker for ballads, check out Oliver Wakeman and his happy minstrels.
Review by Ravn - 5/6
Anyone familiar with Oliver Wakeman's work will no doubt be pleased with his first live release, the 'Coming to Town' DVD, also being offered in a DVD/CD combination.
What makes a good live release? To me it's a combination of song selection, audio quality, performance quality, and in the case of video, good video quality. I'm pleased to say that 'Coming to Town' wins on all counts!
The song selection includes a few songs from Oliver's latest studio release, 'Mother's Ruin'. He also adds 4 tracks from the 'Jabberwocky' album, which he collaborated with Clive Nolan to create what many consider a true masterpiece! The instrumental 'Three Broken Threads' from the Hound of the Baskervilles album (another Clive Nolan collaboration) is included as well. The setlist mixes it up with a variety of styles including a couple of 'epic' songs, some rockers, and some 'slow numbers'.
The audio quality is quite good, crisp and clean, with all elements coming forth in a balanced way - I noticed that Oliver is taking a 'band approach' and was deliberate to include all members of his band in an equal manner. As a fan, I have to appreciate that.
The video production is very pleasant to the eyes and once again, Oliver doesn't dominate the screen time, but instead, all members get time on screen. The stage set was not elaborate, nor did it have to be. The setting utilized a nice blending of tasteful lighting and provided a very nice effect indeed. The stage set and 'light show' should not dominate or distract too much from the music, but instead, enhance the experience as it does here.
The performance of these songs in a live setting surpasses my expectations. Dave Wagstaffe and Paul Brown team up nicely to provide the rythym, setting the pace for Oliver and David to take alternate leads, all the while being fronted by Paul Manzi.
I'm all too familiar with the studio versions of these songs, and having never seen Oliver in concert (no opportunity) I wasn't really sure of what to expect. The Youtube promo video of Mother's Ruin got me psyched to see the whole DVD. .Too often a live performance is too fast or too loud, but on this DVD, they handle these aspects well. The skills of each member are top notch and as a unit, they have gelled to become very tight, yet maintaining a relaxed atmosphere. To be completely honest, it took me a couple listens before I forgot the original singers and grew accustomed to Paul Manzi's voice. I now find it well suited for all the songs, which is no small achievement on his part.
It is worth noting that the Pearce - Wakeman combination is something really special... they trade off the leads nicely, while the rest of the band play their parts just the way they should to make it all work so nicely... Another thing to note is there are no 'rock star egos' with this band, They all seem to be dedicated to making great music, never overdoing it, or over embellishing the music. They have a great sense of what the music should do and what it shouldn't... and they are obviously having a fun time doing it!
My personal favorites include the epics 'The Agent', and 'Wall of Water' (which works incredibly well in a live setting!); the rockers 'Walk Away' and 'Coming to Town', the upbeat instrumental 'Three Broken Threads', and my personal favorite, 'The Burgundy Rose', which I think should be Oliver's signature song. It just hits home on so many levels, and is so well played on this release, with the singing bass from Paul Brown in the beginning, to the solos from Oliver Wakeman and David Mark Pearce.
I was hoping for 'In the Movies' and 'The Forgotten King', among a couple others to be included, but then there's always the next DVD...
Like Oliver Wakeman's music in general, this live DVD/CD release displays diversity and a positive feel that is refreshing, energetic and emotional; ranging from driving rock to smooth ballad...
I like to think that Oliver Wakeman has a great respect for his music, I know he is a humble man and doesn't want it to be about Oliver, but about the music... I think that is apparent on this live release.
Well done, Oliver & band!
Bruce & Maria
I first heard of Oliver Wakeman, son of Rick Wakeman, through his collaboration with Clive Nolan (Arena, Pendragon, Neo, Caamora) on the CDs 'Jabberwocky' (1999) and 'The Hound Of The Baskervilles' (2002). One could call both works 'rock operas', however they didn't receive glowing reviews here in Germany. Nonetheless, I liked them and so I also picked up the 'Mother's Ruin' (2005) solo work. However, with this release, the completely different drawers of AOR, Hard Rock and Prog Metal were opened.
Now I am presented with the DVD release of The Oliver Wakeman Band with the title 'Coming to Town - Live in Katowice', which was filmed in the beautiful Wyspianski theatre in Poland and published by Metal Mind Productions.
And naturally there is nothing of average quality here, picture and sound is perfect.
As can be experienced in the interview contained in the DVD, Oliver Wakeman was not only influenced musically by his father, but also by Deep Purple, or more accurately said, Jon Lord, and also the group Styx.
Well, to summarise them, the songs on this DVD are predominantly Melodic Rock and set in medium tempo. With the opening track, 'Don't Come Running', you get hard-rocking riffs and proper energy. However, with the second track, 'Dangerous World', the speed is duly taken down, so that already we get to hear the first AOR ballad. It is remarkable that in Paul Manzi you really could get one class singer. You have to respect drummers who can sing and play at the same time, as in this case with Dave Wagstaffe (Landmarq). It's a hard enough job already, concentrating on moving arms and legs at different times. Heh, I hope you understand what I mean by that.
With 'The Agent', Paul Manzi gives a notable singing performance. The keys ring out here in the foreground for the first time and give a prog feel. Oliver Wakeman leads very sympathetically through the concert, with no outward sign of self-importance. On the contrary, he seems visibly surprised that people from the public are familiar with the work 'The Hound Of The Baskervilles'. So from this album the instrumental 'Three Broken Threads' was played, which I already liked a lot as a studio version. After that, the ballad 'Burgundy Rose' follows, which comes from the 'Jabberwocky' album.
Unfortunately I much preferred the studio version, sung there by Bob Catley (Magnum). A further ballad follows, 'Mother's Ruin', which sits better with me and also better suits Paul Manzi's voice.
The next songs are of the peaceful sort, so I won't go into great detail about them. Here I rather mention the guitarist David Mark Pearce, who with engages in mad soloing duels with Oliver Wakeman and thus shows that he is well in control of his instrument. Moreover, he is effective with the vocalist in bringing a little more life into this performance since Oliver plays in a rather calm and concentrated manner.
One of the outstanding pieces is 'Wall of Water' with a classic structure of tension and rhythm change, with which even bassist Paul Brown is brought to life, who otherwise holds himself rather in the background. Now one sees him happily engage in slap bass and hears those clearly articulate, magnificently produced, deep tones. Incidentally, this is in my view the proggiest number of the evening.
'Walk Away' is an absolute AOR stomper. Here the audience, much enjoying themselves this evening, are brought fully into the show with 'Coming To Town', which brings this concert to an close, and in which the performers are finally introduced to us by Paul Manzi.
Other than the the interview I mentioned earlier, there are various other extras, like a biography, the discography, a photo gallery, desktop wallpaper, and web links to the left of the logo. The DVD is also available as a Special Edition, which includes a CD of the concert performance.
For fans of 'progged' AOR, who don't mind something a little heavier occasionally, 'Coming To Town - Live in Katowice' would surely be a worthwhile acquisition! 7 of 10 RockTimes clocks
Michelle Karayilan 7/10
Thanks to Mike Clarke for the translation
Prolusion. Establishing yourself as a musician with the surname Wakeman can be somewhat of a challenge, due to a certain keyboard player in the long-lasting and highly popular progressive rock act Yes sharing that one. When that certain someone is your father, and you choose to play the keyboards yourself, the challenge does not become any easier. Oliver Wakeman has managed to do so though, mainly by not utilizing his family and family name to take career shortcuts, but instead taking the long road towards reaching his musical goals. And in many ways I get the feeling that the DVD "Coming to Town" represents the final page in the chapter on how Oliver Wakeman became an established musician in his own right.
Analysis.The 31st of October 2007 must have been a magnificent day for fans of progressive rock in Katowice, Poland. Metal Mind Productions were going to film three concerts at the Wyspianski Theater that day. The main event was Clive Nolan's Caamora project and their rock opera "She", to be performed with a somewhat massive ensemble, and prior to that the veteran prog band Pallas was going to warm up the public for the main event, but first off this evening was The Oliver Wakeman Band, to give a concert with selected tidbits from Wakeman's 10-year-long career.
With a theater set up for filming all three concerts, and with such a major event ending this evening, the stage was indeed set for a highly professional recording of this show. Lots of cameras were in action, a high quality lighting system was in place, and there was quite a good crowd there waiting to be entertained, fully aware of the music to be performed and indeed anxiously waiting for the first act to kick off. And they get treated with what appears to have been a very fine performance.
The band picked for this concert is a fine one, all musicians able in their own right. Lead vocalist Paul Manzi in particular is a charismatic character, stealing the show on a couple of occasions, but the rest of the guys are lively too, and seem to be enjoying the experience very much. The only person not looking like he's having a jolly good time is Oliver Wakeman himself, actually. Whether lost in thoughts or just totally concentrated is hard to know, but he is a much stiffer and serious-looking character, contrasting with the other band members.
It's all beautifully recorded, of course, with good sound, close-ups of the individual musicians as well as the stage overall, and with pleasing light effects caught on camera. The chosen tracks are all penned by Wakeman of course, some are from the "Jabberwocky" release he made with Clive Nolan in the late nineties, while most of the others seem to be taken from the "Mother's Ruin" album from 2005 - referred to by Oliver as his first rock band album in the interview included on this DVD. The musical style may not be to everybody's taste, as all tunes, except the ballads, sound like something Deep Purple might play in this particular live arrangement while the ballads come across as more typically neo-progressive in style.
After a good performance I do get the feeling that Oliver Wakeman has closed a chapter in his musical journey with this DVD being released. In the interview included on this DVD he tells about the formation of his career, touring with bands, the creation of the first CD, the first collaboration, commissioned works and finally the first rock band CD. And with this DVD to boot I'd think it is now fair to state that he is truly established as a musician in his own right, as he is now so well known and popular that a record company felt it was time to issue a DVD in his name.
Conclusion. This DVD will have its strongest appeal to fans of Oliver Wakeman. Hardcore Yes fans will undoubtedly be interested in this one regardless, both due to the fact that this is a release by the son of Rick Wakeman, but also due to Oliver being asked to be the keyboard player for Yes 2008 tour, even if that last event was canceled due to other circumstances. As The Oliver Wakeman Band performs enjoyable progressive hard rock in a style and manner somewhat similar to Deep Purple, fans of that style of music might also want to check this one out. 5.5/7
Dutch Progressive Rock Pages review by Geoff Feakes
Oliver Wakeman must consider himself to be a very unlucky man at the moment. He should have been halfway through a prestigious tour of the USA replacing his father as the latest in a long line of keys men with Yes. Following concerns over Jon Anderson's health the tour was of course cancelled which is particularly unfortunate as this is the first time in the bands forty year history I can recall that happening. One of several spin offs from the tour would have surely been the inevitable DVD. By way of compensation Oliver's own live DVD has recently hit the shelves. Billed as The Oliver Wakeman Band he is joined by a quartet of musicians some of whom appeared on his most recent Mother's Ruin album from 2005. In my review of the album I noted that the band had already acquired a new bassist and vocalist and as such it would be interesting to see how the songs faired live. The line-up consists of Paul Manzi (vocals and acoustic guitar) David Mark Pearce (electric guitar), Paul Brown (bass) and Dave Wagstaffe (drums and percussion). Almost every track from the last album is included in the set along with a selection of tunes from previous releases including The Hound Of The Baskervilles and Jabberwocky projects co-produced by Wakeman and Clive Nolan.
The recording was made at the Wyspianski Theatre in Katowice, Poland which judging by recent releases has replaced Tilburg in the Netherlands as the location favoured by acts and their labels for such events. The band ventured to Poland from the UK specifically to record the concert which took place on 31st October 2007. If both the date and venue sound familiar it's because they shared the bill with Caamora and Pallas whose DVD's were also recorded that same evening. For those of you that hanker for a separate audio experience you'll be pleased to know that it's also available as a double DVD and CD package. I can't comment on the CD but both the audio and picture quality on the DVD are startlingly good in their clarity. The camerawork and editing is professionally executed with a varied combination of full stage images and ample close-ups although as is often the case the lens favours the three leads more than it does the drummer and bassist. There is a particularly impressive shot which is thankfully not overused where in one continuous pan the camera swoops from the rear of the auditorium down to the front of the stage. The lighting is imaginative although with an over emphasis on greens and blues. The band appears almost uniform like dressed in mostly black with only Pearce's purple guitar catching the eye. Oliver's youthful good looks on the other hand are more than capable of turning a few heads.
Concentrating on material from Mother's Ruin, the first part of the set is made up of hard rock numbers laced with the occasional ballad like Dangerous World. The end result is more Deep Purple and Uriah Heep in tone than say Yes. That's despite Oliver's keyboard interjections being very similar to Wakeman seniors, especially his rippling piano technique and synth noodlings. Unlike his dad's solo ventures however Oliver plays more of a sideman role allowing the heavy metal vocal and guitar histrionics of Manzi and Pearce a degree of freedom. Oliver also favours a bright and digitally clean sound, there's no gritty Rhodes, fuzzed Hammond or lush Mellotron excursions here. In fact his modest rig looks positively skeletal compared with the legendary stacks pioneered by Rick. The proggier tracks are mostly bundled together in the middle of the set starting with the lively instrumental Three Broken Threads from The Hound of the Baskervilles. Here Wakeman's lighting fast synth agility would make his old man proud. Having made himself scarce for the instrumental, Manzi returns to the stage and acoustic guitar in hand gives a soulful rendition of the reflective Burgundy Rose. Minus points here for the camerawork which fails to acknowledge Brown's fretless bass solo other than glimpses over Wakeman's shoulder. The title track from Mother's Ruin is next up which eschews some of the frills of the album version in favour of an acoustic bias.
By this juncture the band really has the audience on their side and they are all clearly moved by the ecstatic response. The last part of the show is book ended by two pieces from Jabberwocky, Enlightenment and Coming To Town. The former skilfully juxtaposes quieter moments with strident guitar driven parts. The highlight of the song (and possibly the show) is a soaring solo from Pearce followed by an infectious chorus where Clive Nolan's influence is clearly present. If You're Leaving is an unashamed tearjerker of a ballad but this version doesn't quite do it for me with Manzi's otherwise fine vocals sounding curiously strangulated here. I Don't Believe In Angels and Wall Of Water raise the heat once more with impressive guitar and keys interplay and finds Manzi in more comfortable Ian Gillan inspired territory. Walk Away is one of the catchier songs on the last album and is no less compelling live with Manzi going all out to whip up the audience's participation in the sing-along chorus. Following a brief exit from the stage and enthusiastic encouragement from the fans, they return for the encore Coming To Town. Not in my view the most inspired of closers but it does allow each musician a stage credit and the opportunity to shine with a short solo. Wakeman makes smart use of the pitch wheel to liven up his synth contribution.
As with the Par Lindh Project DVD I covered just a few weeks back Metal Mind have done another superb job with this package. It comes with a short but informative booklet which contains extensive production notes but no pics from the show other than the cover montage. These are included on the DVD however along with a neat array of other extras crowned by an interview with Oliver. In addition to the close resemblance, his easy going anecdotal recollections sound incredibly like his dad. He reveals (unsurprisingly) his early penchant for Deep Purple and Styx, his introduction to Clive Nolan through Mick Pointer and his working relationship with Steve Howe. Talking at length about the recording process he discloses that (unlike many artists) he actually enjoys listening to his own albums. Moving onto the biography section, in addition to the band it thoughtfully includes a page dedicated to each individual member. So there you have it. Although extremely well performed, not for me a set with the strongest of material but certainly one of the best looking and sounding DVD's in the recent spate of releases.
Conclusion: 8 out of 10
New Horizons review by Simon Hill
The night of October 31st 2007 was a pretty busy night at the Wyspianski Theater in Katowice, and for those that attended the proceedings it is one that will be remembered for a very long time, thankfully for all the right reasons.
It was a night that saw performances first from The Oliver Wakeman band, followed by Pallas and then Caamora. With all three shows being recorded for DVD releases there was a lot at stake and little margain for error or overrunning, and so sets had to be performed to a fairly tight time line.
With only one full album behind them to date, it is natural that the tracks chosen for the show are predominantly taken from the recent 'Mother's Ruin' release.
The set opens with the track 'Don't Come Running' which, as I commented when I reviewed the 'Mother's Ruin' album, sets the tone nicely for the evening's entertainment. This is a solid rock number with runs along at a fair old pace and demonstrates what the band are capable of musically. There is a definite Deep Purple vibe lurking beneath the surface here, and Olivers keyboard sound is superb. Here is a band that captures the spirit of seventies rock but at the same time manages to add a very modern edge to the sound.
Although there seems to be a slight degree of nervous tension in the opening number of the set, this quickly passes and the band move from strength to strength as the show progresses. By the time we arrive at the last few numbers there is a real confidence among the band members, who perform so well as a team that it seems that given the chance they would happily have played all night! This spirit is really infectious and the audience reaction is very appreciative!
In addition to the material from Mother's Ruin, Oliver Wakeman fans will no doubt be delighted to note that there also four pieces from 'Jabberwocky' and one from 'Hound of the Baskervilles' included in the set, both of these albums Oliver recorded with Clive Nolan. These tracks help to create a very balanced setlist, while at the same time their nature helps to maintain the Rock overtones amd they fit in well with the Oliver Wakeman Band material.
Paul Manzi proves to be a real revelation throughout. Although he did not appear on the original Mother's Ruin album recording, the band did record an E.P. to showcase his abilities. He handles all OWB songs with coomensurate ease, and when the band launch into 'Dangerous World' from Jabberwocky early on in the set he proves to be more than up to the challenge.
As ever Metal Mind have made excellent use of the various cameras around the hall, and the cuts to different shots from the stage and the auditorium certainly help to capture the atmosphere of the night and it is very easy to imagine yourself there at the heart of the action.
As well as the concert footage, the DVD also features a 25 minute interview with Oliver in which he talks about his life in music so far, his influences, and the projects he has worked on so far. The sound quality as far as the interviewer is concerned sadly seems a bit off, as the guy seems to mumble a little and some of the questions I struggled to catch what was being asked, but regardless of that minor quibble, the answers themselves are clear, informative and above all interesting!
The disc comes with the usual array of biography, discography, photos and desktop images, which while fairly simplistic are nevertheless nice touches that add to the overall presentation.
All in all this is another fine DVD release from the Metal Mind stable and one that should appeal not just to Oliver's existing fan base but also to anyone who has more than a passing interest in rock music. Highly Recommended!
Simon - July 13th 2008
metalperspective.com review by Stefanos Lountzis
t is often said that the children of famous artists never reach the success of their parents. Generally, this viewpoint seems valid, however it does not apply to all cases. We all know Rick Wakeman and it's about time we met his son Oliver, a most gifted keyboardist (how else could it be?) and songwriter. Having already released several personal albums and having teamed up with Clive Nolan and Steve Howe, he felt certain enough to release this live performance of Oliver Wakeman's Band at Katowice. They opened the show, Pallas took the baton and finally that glorious evening came to an end with Caamora. It was one of those nights...
Set list includes 13 songs, of which 8 come from "Mother's Ruin" while the others from Wakeman's collaboration with Nolan on "The Hound Of The Baskervilles" and "Jabberwocky". A laconic description of this DVD should be the following: choruses full of 70s hard rock and AOR flavour, while the themes lean towards progressive techniques and soundscapes plus a strong emphasis on melody. Moreover, the show is highly energetic even if 4 songs in the middle are balladesque.
One of them of course is "Mother's Ruin" with a remarkable melodic line and an emotionally intensive chorus, and another is "If You're Leaving" a song made under the rules of US AOR. Other highlights are "Agent" which sets off based on prog metal riffs to blossom through its art rock interludes, the hard rocking "I Don't Believe In Angels", the fantastic "Wall Of Water" where a fierce fight between keys and guitar takes place to make room en route for some new age hints. Not to mention "Walk Away" and its AOR-prog heart, all you have to do is listen to how Oliver plays the keys and, in no time, Asia will come to mind. Really enjoyable set list by all means.
Wakeman through his Olympian calm, Manzi through his slick vocal performance and Pearce through his poseur look and attitude stole the show that evening. In a time that proggers egos are not as boosted as they used to be, I suggest a third collaboration between Nolan and Wakeman. This would work marvels.
8 out of 10
rockarea.eu review by Piotr Spyra
Another DVD published by Metal Mind. Yet again we have a chance to live through in our own homes what fans of progressive playing had a chance to see on October 31, 2007. One of the stars of that evening in the Slaski Theatre in Katowice was the Oliver Wakeman group.
I usually approach tapes of concerts, which I have had a chance to see, from the back, so I start with the extras. And that is how I'm going to start this review.
Metal Mind as a publisher of concert DVDs delivers again. The album, apart from a typical cover, also has an additional inlet in which one can read about the details of this realisation. The disc itself has a standard set of extras. Traditionally, there is an interview, in this case it is a 25 minute interview with Oliver Wakeman himself.
The picture gallery, and I couldn't count how many pictures there were, is somewhat interesting because the pics were taken from almost all possible places in the Theatre... an additional spice are the rehearsal pictures. Of course, the extras had to include information on Oliver's career in the form of a biography and a discography. There is also a traditional set of wallpapers for your computer screen.
Unfortunately, this time there were no films from behind the scenes, from the tour, or from other concerts... I must admit that I was disappointed by that... but who knows, maybe the group did not document their tour this way...
Let us move on to the main course - the concert of the Oliver Wakeman's band. The film starts with no introductions. When the first letters are shown on the screen, the sounds of the first song hit the speakers. The sensational rocker "Don't Come Running", the first track on "Mother's Ruin", was my personal cert for the concert. One could easily predict that such an energetic song would serve as the opener or the culmination of a concert. In this case the first theory was right. The first thing that one notices is the covered-up side stage sets already in place for the Caamora concert.
Wakeman's band has no visual tricks up their sleve. Actually, the lack of additional setting does not bother the viewers for one second because the first song has already heated up the audience. If there were any people not knowing the newest studio album of the band, the second song makes smiles show up on the faces of the more and more eager audience. The second track of the evening is "Dangerous World" from the album "Jabberwocky". After the first adrenaline hit, those whose blood pressure has returned to norm have surely noticed other details than a well arranged set.
The side stage sets have narrowed down the stage a bit making the group less spread around it. Oliver, surrounded by the keyboards, was standing on the left. His stage presence may be a bit modest, but the way he plays fully makes up for the lesser commitment to the show itself. The lead singer, and as it later turned out also the person working the acoustic guitar, Paul Manzi, in the very middle. This musician on the other hand has enough charisma for two. Apart from the impression his voice makes, the guy doesn't lack stage presence. Paul can encourage the audience to clap and to sing with him, it has to be noted that the band was the opening act that night and usually such acts are treated like a poor cousin. Of course, a sure advantage of Paul's voice is how well it fits with the songs from both "Mother's Ruin" and "Jabberwocky".
Another musician in the foreground is the guitar player David Mark Peace. At the first glance a person from a different era. Violet stratocasters, scarves attached to the belt, make-up, backcombed hair make the musician look like a hard-rock virtuoso from twenty years back... I have to admit that David's image seemed a bit funny at first, but after a few solos, which he extracted from his guitar, one could easily forgive him his eccentric image.
During the slower songs the bass player and the drummer, who were more in the back but on a platform, were shown a bit more. But maybe it was me watching them more carefully, because during the ballads Paul Brown played on a fret-less bass, and I am a huge fan of its sound.
The drummer calmly beat the rhythms, only towards the end I saw a bit passion in his behaviour when it was time for his solo.
There were 8 tracks of "Mother's Ruin", 4 tracks of "Jabberwocky" and just one of "Hound of the Baskervilles", and instrumental, in the set. "Shadows of Fate" awaited by most of the fans I think was not played that night, unfortunately.
However, the tracks of the last Oliver's group's album got an extra edge on stage, and they were lacking it in the studio sound. I don't know if its a question of the charisma of the musicians, and the viewer sees it differently, or the guys really did come up with a bit more power.
The band coped very well with interpreting the songs from rock opera, and Paul's vocals well replace Bob Catley's voice.
The set was arranged very skilfully, and the audience never got bored, even during slower songs. And during the quicker ones, people even started dancing.
For me it was a memorable performance, and I am sure that many who were present there at the concert would like to have it on their shelf. I would like to encourage you to buy the version with an extra CD album containing the whole set. The music from this concert is a great listen and it brings great pleasure even without the visuals. If some one has not seen the concert - I strongly advise buying this DVD. It is not only a record of a great performance, one can find hard rock meeting progressive at its best. Many solos (both keyboard and guitar), a pleasant rhythmic section, many memorable melodies, and great versions of the classics of "Jabberwocky".
Thanks to Lech Jankowski for the translation of the article
progarchives.com review by Bob McBeath
Another Katowice concert classic
The 31st October 2007 was quite a night at the Wyspianski Theatre in Katowice, Poland. On that night, the charming old building hosted not one but three fine gigs. The centrepiece of the night was Clive Nolan's Caamora making their debut presentation of his ambitious "She" rock opera.
Supporting this were Pallas and the Oliver Wakeman Band. Oliver and Clive have worked together several times in the past, so it made a lot of sense for Wakeman's band to play that night, their music being of a type which was bound to please the partisan but appreciative audience. Recordings of the Caamora and Pallas performances have already been released on DVD, so with the arrival of this DVD the unique night has now been captured in full.
Given that Caamora's set ran for the best part of two hours alone, it is perhaps surprising to find that we get a full set of 13 songs from Oliver here the gig running to about 75 minutes.
This is the first DVD release for Oliver, who chooses the band environment for the excursion. Hence this is not simply an exercise in keyboards wizardry, but a full blown rock band presentation. The five piece line up focus mainly on the 2005 album "Mother's ruin", on which guitarist David Mark Pearce and drummer Dave Wagstaffe also performed. No less than eight of the nine tracks on that album feature in this set. The remaining numbers are taken from Oliver's two collaborations with Clive Nolan, "Jabberwocky" and "The Hound of the Baskervilles".
The set gets off to a rousing start with the first track on "Mother's ruin", "Don't come running". There is a sort of Rainbow feel to this song, with singer Paul Manzi sounding reasonably like Ronnie James Dio. While Wakeman's relatively modest keyboards array is naturally fairly predominant in the sound, equal prominence is given here and throughout the gig to Pearce's guitar work. Pearce's style is similar to that of Nick Barrett of Pendragon, the overall sound often being reminiscent of that fine band. The mood soon changes for the fine ballad "Dangerous world" from "Jabberwocky", the lead guitar being particularly appealing here. Manzi turns his hand well to the four Jabberwocky songs included here, displaying admirable versatility with songs originally performed by a variety of singers. The sole track from "Hound" is the instrumental "Three broken threads", which offers Wakeman and Pearce the opportunity to compare dexterity.
There are a number of fine ballad style songs throughout the set, including the excellent title song from "Mother's ruin". Towards the end of the gig the band seem conscious of the number of ballads and the desire of the audience to party when introducing "If you're leaving" (Also from "Mother's Ruin"), promising "a few fast ones after this". The song is a superb Journey like number, Manzi now sounding admirably like Steve Perry. Given that he did not sing on any of the songs here when they were first recorded, great credit is due to Manzi for the way he adopts them as his own. He also makes an excellent front man too.
"Wall of water" is introduced as the "epic track from the last album" ("Mother's ruin"), the song running to around 11 minutes. Even here, while Oliver does slip into some of the family magic, it is more in the form a Yes like Wakeman/Howe duel, the lead guitar remaining equally prominent. The gig climaxes with the crowd pleaser "Walk away" ("Mother's ruin") and the encore "Coming to town" ("Jabberwocky"), Oliver describing the latter as one of his favourites.
While the Wakeman name will naturally attract interest from fans of Oliver's illustrious father, he is very much his own man. He tends to avoid the flamboyant excesses of his father (on stage at least) preferring to remain towards the rear of the limelight. Rick's influences can naturally be found in Oliver's style, but the band environment means that he is happy to simply take his place as a contributor to the overall sound of the band. This in turn results in a highly satisfactory set of great diversity, played flawlessly by a quintet of fine musicians.
The sound quality is superb throughout, the 5.1 surround sound capturing the well balanced sound with great precision. The main DVD extra of interest is a 25 minute interview with Oliver, which shows him to be articulate, interesting, and a right chatterbox!
(4 out of 5)
www.bloggernews.net review by Simon Barrett
I have been looking forward to this DVD since I first heard about it. Oliver Wakeman is Rick Wakeman's oldest son. And like his father has embraced the keyboards as his weapon of choice, and like his father has as chosen the genre of Prog Rock as his starting point.
This is the first live DVD of this band, I am a big fan of live performances, the faults can not be covered up and rerecorded, it is what it is.
The band itself is made up of Oliver Wakeman on keyboards, I counted four, including a T1 Korg and a Roland XP-30, the other two I couldn't get a good angle on. The Korg I believe came out in 1990, so it is not what you would call cutting edge, but it sure has a nice 'Moogy' sound. Paul Manzi handles the vocals, and does a very fine job. David Mark Pearce is on guitar, Paul Brown on bass, and Dave Wagstaffe supplies the drumming.
Many celebs offspring follow in their parents footsteps, and generally speaking they are dreadful! That is not the case with Oliver Wakeman, he has inherited the Wakeman gene for composing, arranging and playing. This DVD showcases a highly competent prog rock band with huge amounts of potential. Mixing prog rock with an almost symphonic quality every track stands out.
One of the fascinating aspects of this new generation of prog rock, I guess in this internet centric world we should call it Prog Rock 2.0 is the amazing interaction between bands, they are all one big family. Gone are the days of isolationism, the bands collaborate. Oliver has played with Clive Nolan (Neo, Pendragon) on a number of occasions.
Maybe the greatest high, and then the greatest low for Oliver Wakeman has to be some recent events. Yes had decided to do a 40th year anniversary tour, and unfortunately prior commitments prevented Rick Wakeman from joining the tour, Oliver was invited to take his fathers place. Alas Jon Anderson has been sidelined because of medical problems and the tour has been canceled.
If you like great prog rock, you will certainly want this in your collection. It is currently available in Europe, and has a US street date of July 8. You can order your copy from Metal Mind Productions (Europe) or MVD (US).
(5 out of 5)