Classic Rock Society Review
Oliver Wakeman Band & Final Conflict
The Herringthorpe, Rotherham. 9th June 2007
The Oliver Wakeman Band is having its own acceptance problems and again many can't understand why. Is it prog snobbery? Again the band has all the essential tools in place from keyboard talent through the exceptional vocals of Paul Manzi - I challenge you to find better - the most laid back drummer in the business, Dave Wagstaffe, a sonic guitarist in David Mark Pearce and one of those bass men that you can hear but never notice, Paul Brown. Solid material from the Mother's Ruin album is the meat on the table and it is tasty!
Oliver dabbled in other pieces from Jabberwocky (released with Clive Nolan) and The 3 Ages of Magick but the Mother's Ruin material hits the mark. Don't Come Running opened, as it does on the album and Walk Away concluded the main set but it was the quietest song of the evening that grabbed me. Picture Of A Lady might not be energetic prog but it would not be out of place on the West End stage - with Paul manzi singing it! Another great night with plenty of positive comments!
Classic Rock Society Review
Karnataka / Caamora Project / Oliver Wakeman & Paul Manzi
The Herringthorpe, Rotherham. 24th March 2007
A bonus tonight was the appearance of Oliver Wakeman and Paul Manzi to get the show going. This semi-acoustic set by the duo has proved popular and with Clive Nolan and Agneiska Swita following in similar format prior to the return of Karnataka the evening certainly had something different to offer. Manzi is proving to be a crowd favourite having a voice that blends in rock and ballads perfectly.
One of the highlights of last years gig season was watching the multi talented Oliver Wakeman and Paul Manzi performing an acoustic guitar and piano based set, and it was great to see them return to the HLC stage, at short notice as well, so we got three great acts instead of two! Playing a set almost identical to the one they'd performed at the back end of last year, the highlight of the set for me again was the rather wonderful If You're Leaving, which is one of the best songs ever written by anyone, whilst the excellent Mothers Ruin got a great make over. Oliver's superb playing and Paul's great guitar work and vocals both complement each other perfectly, and as duo's go they are one of the best playing together at the moment. And with a stunning performance like this the Oliver Wakeman Band show later on in June will be one not to miss.
Classic Rock Society Review
Oliver Wakeman with Paul Manzi
The Herringthorpe, Rotherham. 4th November 2006
Oliver Wakeman made a welcome return for a short (and spectacular set) with superb vocalist/guitarist Paul Manzi (who thankfully had no pot plant back related injuries this time) performing a potted 'best of' starting with Glimmer of Light from the Jabberwocky album.
Understandably Oliver's latest album, the brilliant Mother's Ruin, dominated the set starting with the title track, Walk Away and then, for me, the highlight of an outstanding set, the moving and beautiful If you're Leaving (I liked it so much I had to buy the album).
We were also treated to the new Busy Going No-Where (which Oliver had finished arranging at about half three on the day). A Blinding set and the large audience who were there quite early were very appreciative. Can't wait for Oliver and full band to return.
James R turner
Oliver Wakeman with Paul Manzi
The Herringthorpe, Rotherham. 4th November 2006
When I was a young boy I was told that 'All good things come to those who wait'.
Last Saturday night (4th November) the faithful throng of the CRS who had gathered for 'Martin's Freebee night out' and who had waited for the return of Oliver together with Paul Manzi got their just rewards. It's well known why Paul couldn't join the rest of the band at Oliver's last appearance for the CRS and both Oliver and Paul wanted to return to the CRS as soon as Paul had fully recovered.
Oliver and Paul opened up the evening with a half hour of pure magic.
Oliver had brought along his trusty Yamaha Piano and Paul provided the vocals and acoustic guitar accompaniment.
The set was opened with a shortened version of 'GLIMMER OF LIGHT' from the Jabberwocky album and this was followed by IF YOU'RE LEAVING, the first of three tracks from Mother's Ruin. The next track was my daughter Fiona's favourite song from The Hound of the Baskervilles album PICTURE OF A LADY.
Oliver explained that the next piece of music was something of an experiment and that he wasn't sure at first if he should include it in the set or not, but then he had decided to try it anyway and we where treated to what could best be described as a 'Bluesy swing type' song called BUSY GOING NOWHERE. Now I don't admit to being a particular lover of Blues, but after listening to this song I have to admit it was fantastic and I was swept away with it. I hope that this song will get included in a future album at some point and that Oliver can spend some more time exploring this particular genre of music.
Anyway back to the performance, and the next track was the second from the Mother's Ruin album the title track MOTHER'S RUIN. After this the boys ended their set with the third track of the evening from Mother's Ruin WALK AWAY.
Like I said at the beginning of this review, 'All good things come to those who wait' and this evening proved this old proverb true. I hope that we will be able to see a lot more of this kind of performance from Oliver and Paul in the future as I think the format worked very well. Also Im looking forward to the new year when Oliver will return to the CRS with his full band.
Thanks Guy's for an enjoyable show and thanks also to Martin Hudson and the CRS.
The Boardwalk, Sheffield. 22nd July 2006
Before I try to describe Oliver's gig at Sheffield's Boardwalk last Saturday night, picture if you will, the following scenario;
Over the last number of years you have got yourself a band of talented musicians who have gelled and work together very well, they rehearse and rehearse until you have a tight band. You are successful in the studio and have released some excellent product. As a live band, all the hard work has paid off and you have a good reputation to live up to. You are invited to Headline a gig for the Classic Rock Society in Sheffield to perform a full line up out and out Rock concert. You work out a set list for the concert and you practice and rehearse over and over for a number of weeks and everything is looking good for the concert on the Saturday night.
Friday afternoon you get a call from your vocalist saying he's in agony with his back and not sure if he can do the show. you agree to talk in the morning to see if he's ok....
But then at 9am on the morning of the gig; you get a phone call from your vocalist saying that he is lying on the floor in absolute agony brought on by a trapped sciatic nerve, He says 'I'm sorry mate but I can't make the gig'.
You have just lost your band's front man and in 12hrs time and hundreds of miles away from home, you are expected on stage!
WHAT WOULD YOU DO?
I have spent a few hours today (Sunday 23rd July) talking to various friends and fellow musicians and I have told them of this very scenario. Every one of them gave me the same answer
'I'D CANCEL THE GIG'!!!
Thank God that none of them has the name of Oliver Wakeman. For what I've just relayed isn't some nightmare or tale of fiction. This is for real and Oliver's nightmare had begun.....
Many frantic phone calls then took place and Oliver had spoken to the rest of the band and agreed that they could perform an "instrumental evening of entertainment" instead.
Time was against the guys but true professionalism, talent and wanting to please the fans drove them on.
Oliver racked his brain and after hours of deliberating came up with a revised set list that could be played without a vocalist. This was drawn mainly from the Heaven's Isle and Three Ages Of Magick albums. The only problem was, there would be precious little time for the guys to learn and rehearse the new set list.
So the long journey to Sheffield was made and even the weather tried to put a dampener on the evening when the guys arrived. Sheffield was under a fierce thunderstorm and torrential rain.
Once in the venue, it was into a back room and 'let's try and work out how we can do this'. And hours of hard work were spent by the band right up to 7 pm (the doors were open to the public at 7:30pm) then onto the stage to set up the gear and a quick sound check.
Oliver explained to Martin Hudson what had happened with Paul Manzi (his vocalist). It was agreed to let Ashtar (who were originally supporting Oliver and his band) to take over as the Headline act and Oliver would take the second slot on the bill.
The gig kicked off with an acoustic set from a guitarist called Marc Atkinson, who treated us to some nice songs with quite a lot of fierce strumming involved. I was quite relieved that he still had all of his fingers left when he finished.
Then it was time for Oliver to take to the stage. He explained to everyone what had happened and the changes that had been made to the evening's proceedings. Everyone joined with Oliver in wishing Paul Manzi a speedy recovery from his very painful back. Get well soon Paul!
Oliver opened up with a solo piano piece called A MAYFAIR KISS which was really nice to hear and then Oliver was joined on stage by Dave Mark Pearce who accompanied him for THE FORGOTTEN KING from the 3 AGES OF MAGICK album. The audience were happy and enjoying the music.
Oliver then did another solo piece called A SONG FOR LEE for his wife who was at home babysitting their young son Arthur.
The rest of the band came on stage to join Oliver for a medley taken from Oliver's Heaven's Isle album and then ALONE AT LAST also from the same album. This was the first time this piece had ever been performed live!
Afterwards Oliver played another solo piece from The 3 AGES OF MAGICK album called LUTEY AND THE MERMAID of which Oliver said there was a nice story to tell explaining who Lutey was but it would take ages to tell.... Maybe it'll get told one day?
Then things got really hot when the band came back on stage for THE ENCHANTER from The 3 AGES OF MAGICK album.
Remember that this was a completely new set list and the band had spent weeks rehearsing a totally different set altogether, with only a few hours for this gig. So inevitably there was the odd bit of 'individual spontaneous improvisation' that occurred. Yes, for any fellow musicians reading this, you will understand exactly what that means. For everyone else, it's when one or more members of the band momentarily looses their place in the song. So it did upset me when I overheard someone behind me say to his friend, 'that's not how it's played on the album, they've cocked it up'. Well pardon me sunshine, but this is live music here. If you want to listen to a perfect note for note replay of the original recording, stay at home and stare at a blank wall with you're your headphones on listing to a CD, but please don't criticize the performers for trying their hardest under difficult circumstances.
Grumpy Old Man rant over now, I've got down of my soapbox, back to the gig.
Oliver then said he 'wanted to include a track off the MOTHER'S RUIN album, but which one to choose under tonight's circumstances'. 'So I've chosen the longest track off the album, all 11 minutes of it, its WALL OF WATER and tonight was to be the first time this track had been played live'. This song had its slight spontaneous variations from the original version, but that said, I think the guys deserve all praise and applause for putting their hearts into it.
The slot was ended with THREE BROKEN THREADS from THE HOUND OF THE BASKERVILLES album which included a stunning drum solo from Dave Wagstaffe followed by a piece referred to in the band as the Wakeman boogie which Oliver performed with his father at the Mother's Ruin launch concert last year but this time with Dave Pearce soloing against Oliver!
All things being considered, what Oliver and the guys in the band pulled off last night was nothing short of a fantastic show all round.
Like I said at the beginning, all of the people I have spoken to today would have cancelled the gig, had it been them instead.
But not Oliver Wakeman.
Oliver went to great lengths many times during the gig to praise the guys in his band for their hard work and professionalism in putting the show on. Well, I personally think that praise and thanks should also go to Oliver for his hard work and professionalism in putting together (at the last minute) a superb and entertaining show.
The evening was rounded off with a CRS favourite all the way from Brazil, the band Ashtar. They treated us to an hour of Rock meets Celtic fusion, with tin whistles, a violin, a bodrahn and the usual synth, lead, bass and rhythm guitars and drummer. A sort of Van Hallen meets Clannad if you will. Any way, they were an entertaining band to watch.
Thanks again to Oliver, Dave P, Paul and Dave W for a superb gig and again, get well soon to Paul M.
'Rock Society Magazine' Review of the above show.
Ashtar, Oliver Wakeman Band & Marc Atkinson
Sheffield, Boardwalk 22nd July 2006
Marc Atkinosn has not played for the CRS for a while so it was good to see him again, starting off with Wonderland a song from his great previous solo album. With just an acoustic guitar and his superb voice the crowd were soon drawn into his music and words which lays Marc's personality open for everybody to see. Having almost completed his new album, which has Iain Jennings on keyboards, the rest of the set featured stripped down versions of the songs with Where Were You reflecting the guilt felt after the Indonesian Tsunami. Finishing off with a powerful version of 20th Century Boy showing Marc can rock it up too.
Up next was Oliver Wakeman Band who were originally headlining the night, but the band singer Paul Manzi was unable to sing due to a bad back injury. This immobilised him causing him to have to lay on the floor, so singing was totally out of the question.
After frantic rehearsals and set changes some new versions of songs were compiled for the night starting with A Mayfair Kiss a solo piece from Oliver which no doubt warmed his fingers up. Guitarist David Mark Pearce joined Oliver on stage for The Forgotten King from The 3 Ages Of Magic album. Paul Brown and Dave Wagstaffe completed the line up on stage for a medley from Heaven's Isle. Despite being without vocalist Paul the whole band was determined to perform which shows their commitment to their fans and the CRS, how many other 'popular' bands would have taken the easy way out and cancelled? An instrumental version of Wall Of Water followed, with Three Broken Threads ending a great set to well deserved applause.
This was Ashtar's third visit to the CRS and was part of their European tour. It started out with Oswaldo Valasco on violin and Roberto Da Goulda on keyboards playing the intro before the heavy Oblivious Scars had kilted bass player Fabio Guilherme disappearing behind his hair. Soaring softened things a little with Eduardo Capella's guitar and Fernanda's lovely voice, then a new song called Launched New Life Asylum gave a taster to the next album. Children Of The Mist was followed by Ashes Are Burning.
An Asian feel was added with Rakim, a song by Dead Can Dance before In Lament Cries The Night with a new ending and Daniel Dobbin pounding away on his drums over the guitar feedback. Urantia and then Day Dreaming Past were played as an encore and a great way to end the night with Luiz Garcia making great use of a repeat effect on his guitar.
Three very different styles of music, there is something for everybody at CRS gigs.
'Rock Society Magazine' Review
OLIVER WAKEMAN BAND & Infusion
The Boardwalk, Sheffield, 30th April 2005
This was one of those magical gigs that fully lived up to its billing. First on stage tonight were the brilliant Infusion (www.db-infusion.co.uk). Support bands often get a raw deal, and often have to put up with people laughing, shouting, buying drinks and generally not paying them attention - but not tonight. From their lively opening piece Yo-Yo, this exciting jazz/rock/fusion outfit had the crowd spellbound, and by the end of their set were getting rapturous applause.
Gonzalo Carrera is well-known to the CRS, having played with almost as many bands as Martin Hudson has had birthdays (sorry, couldn't resist that!). He's a great guy, and it is a mark of his talent as a keyboard player that tonight he was no way overshadowed by Oliver. Listening to his excellent work on a manic Flight Of The Bumblebee (which works really well given the fusion treatment) was a pleasure. His mate Danny Berdichevsky is equally talented on the guitar and contributed some breathtaking playing, his flamenco influences surfacing on the enchanting Jerusalem; to hear these two maestros interacting on pieces like Little Drops Of Rain (which they dedicated to percussionist Steve, who sadly died in a car crash) and Dark and Blue made this a memorable evening for me and, I'll bet, many others. They were offered fine support by the excellent Oli Usinskie on drums and the intricate bass-work of Rob Statham, and went down a storm with the crowd - they must be one of the most talented bands ever to have played a support slot for the CRS: let's hope we see them headlining one day!
With such a fabulous act to follow, Oliver Wakeman and his band rose to the occasion beautifully and turned in a great performance, following on from their impressive show at Herringthorpe last autumn. Here, they got off to a nice raunchy start with Don't Come Running, a track from their new album Mother's Ruin, which immediately gave the popular Paul Manzi the chance to display his impressive vocal power, before a powerful sequence from The Hound Of The Baskervilles - the dramatic Shadows Of Fate followed by At Home In The Mire. This band are beginning to gel beautifully: as a keyboard player Mr Wakeman Junior is very much a chip off the old block, possessing both the talent and the scope of his father, while his affable personality is evident both in his repartee with the band and with the audience.
The band themselves, as well as being extremely talented, are beginning to show their stage persona, with Paul Manzi in particular bouncing off Oliver nicely (not literally!) Jabberwocky's Dangerous World was next up, followed by another Mother's Ruin track, In The Movies which slowed things down a little, before another Jabberwocky song, Burgundy Rose, originally sung, I'm told, by Bob Catley was handled with aplomb by Mr Manzi. Not to be outdone, guitarist David Mark Pierce shone on the next two tracks, Run For Your Life and the instrumental Three Broken Threads, and also on the beautiful The Forgotten King, originally performed by Steve Howe, but sounding great here. Next it was the turn of Oliver to star in what was for me the highlight of the set: the gorgeous Heaven' s Isle medley, where his playing was full of touch, sensitivity and feeling.
With another Hound.track, the stately Picture Of A Lady followed by The View From Here, originally written for a female vocal but beautifully sung by Paul, completing a stunning mid-section, the latter third of the set brought things to a great climax: The Agent being a Rick-style epic; Glimmer Of Light, a lovely ballad originally sung by Tracey Hitchings but again, well sung here; and rockier tracks like Calling For You and the clap-along Walk Away, before the excellent encore Coming To Town, another rocker with a soaring vocal from Paul rounded off an all-round fabulous night. Both bands here did themselves proud, making this the equal of any gig we've had at the CRS recently. The size of the crowd was the only disappointment - it's just a pity that more people couldn't make the effort to turn up for this, because by staying away many missed out on an absolute privilege: those that did attend will know what I mean.
Mother's Ruin launch concert
OLIVER WAKEMAN BAND
Herringthorpe Leisure Centre, Rotherham. November 25, 2005
"We haven't done this before!" claimed a delighted Oliver Wakeman as he joined forces with a surprise guest artist for an exhilarating keyboard dual. The man who leapt on stage to join in the fun was none other than Mr. Rick Wakeman, rock legend and Oliver's guide, mentor and dad. His presence enlivened a special CRS event to launch Oliver's latest album "Mother's Ruin". Oliver and his band were greeted with cheers and they responded by playing with dazzling skill and infectious enthusiasm.
Clad in a red velvet jacket with long blonde hair flowing, Oliver charmed the audience with good humour and thrilled them with a blistering performance backed by a powerhouse rock band. Proudly watching his son in action from the side of the stage, Rick confided he had never urged Oliver to become a musician. "It's something he wanted to do and he's done all by himself."
CRS supreme Martin Hudson, practically welded to his mobile phone, introduced the show. He was concerned that the artists and audience would not make it through the blizzards predicted to cut off Rotherham from the outside world. As it turned out the snow stayed away and the bands, including support act Soliquy, generated enough energy to heat the entire building.
As Oliver's lads took over the stage and plugged in their amps, Rick greeted his offspring in the dressing room. The latter was greatly cheered at the sight of dad who'd battled his way from the frozen West Country. Martin Hudson then hauled Rick on stage to greet the audience and there was much banter and many a bawdy joke.
The band now includes Paul Manzi (vocals), Paul Brown (bass), David Mark Pearce (guitar) and Dave Wagstaffe (drums) and they played with commanding confidence. David in crushed velvet jacket and black leather trousers proved a dynamic guitarist, ready to match Oliver's dazzling solos. Paul Manzi asserted his front man credentials with a remarkably powerful, melodic voice especially effective on the ballads.
There were many highlights during a vastly entertaining set, but when Rick joined Oliver for their impromptu "Wakeman Boogie" it was the most fun at a gig since Jimi Hendrix set fire to his guitar. Well, okay, since Arthur Brown set fire to his hat? It was just one of those special moments.
Even more special were numbers like "Don't Come Running, Calling For You and The Agent" a bitter diatribe about a less than honest music business personage. As well as offering self-serving personal advice to the composer, this reprobate was capable of admitting I've been lying to you all along and if you think I'm here for the music you're wrong."). After this blistering performance Oliver told how much he enjoyed playing with his team of great musicians, adding cautiously: "Maybe they're all round the back now, forming their own band!"
Another hotspot was Dave Wagstaffe's dynamic solo. As Dave attacked his kit, the rest of the guys left the stage and were a tad late coming back. Maybe they'd gone back for a curry and game of pool, but it was an exciting showcase number for a drummer whose playing is crucial to the band's dynamic cohesion.
"That were bloody brilliant" vowed an enthusiastic lady in the front row as the show reached a climax with the marvellous "I Don't Believe In Angels" and "Walk Away." Oliver too confirmed it had been "A wonderful evening." Time to celebrate and the Oliver Wakeman Band headed for their hotel bar, heads held high. Ironically, on the night the licensing laws were extended to allow 24 hour drinking, the bar was shut. Oliver's Army was denied another dose of "Mother's Ruin" but the rest of us should place our orders now!
'Rock Society Magazine' Review
OLIVER WAKEMAN BAND / ERIK NORLANDER & LANA LANE
HLC, Rotherham 18th September 2004
My previous impression of Oliver and his band had been one of highly competent performance marred by the absence of any spark, tonight's overlong taped intro from 'The 3 Ages Of Magick' didn't improve this view.. Then........... the voice of new band member Paul Manzi cast aside that opinion within seconds.
Set openers - 'Shadows Of Fate' and 'At Home In The Mire' from 'The Hound Of The Baskervilles' CD - provided a powerful start. Oliver then took us back to his 'Jabberwocky' CD for 'Dangerous World' and 'A Glimmer Of Light' before playing two tracks from his forthcoming 'Mother's Ruin' CD - 'Don't Come Running' and 'In The Movies'. The energetic instrumental 'Three Broken Threads' and the genteel 'Picture
Of A Lady' both from 'The Hound....' album followed. David Mark Pearce on guitar became more animated - moving across to trade appreciative nods with Oliver more than once. Dave Wagstaffe (Landmarq) on drums provided a consistent foundation as usual, with strong support from new bassist Paul Brown.
The bands' new found confidence, nurtured by the addition of the new members only ten weeks ago, carried on through 'The Burgundy Rose' from 'Jabberwocky' and into the new songs 'Calling For You' and 'I Don't Believe In Angels'. Then it was back to 'The Hound....' CD for 'Run For Your Life', in which Paul Manzi covered the original female lead vocal with ease. The new 'Walk Away' ended the set, before a well deserved encore of 'Coming To Town' from 'Jabberwocky'.
Quite simply this was the best performance by Oliver's band that I have seen - he has sold at least one future gig ticket to see his band and one copy of the eagerly awaited 'Mother's Ruin' CD on the basis of it.