Ray's Gigs

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Thursday 31 March 2022.

Wednesday 30 March 2022. RICK WAKEMAN & THE ENGLISH ROCK ENSEMBLE live at Shepherds Bush Empire. Rick Wakeman , now aged 72 is best known as the keyboard player with 1970s prog rock legends YES. Born and raised in West London, Wakeman intended to be a concert pianist but quit his studies at the Royal College of Music in 1969 to become a full-time session musician. His early sessions included playing on "Space Oddity", among others, for David Bowie, and songs by Junior's Eyes, T. Rex, Elton John, and Cat Stevens. Wakeman became a member of The Strawbs in 1970 before joining Yes a year later, playing on some of their most successful albums across two stints until 1980. Wakeman began his solo career in 1973; his highest-selling solo albums are his first three: The Six Wives of Henry VIII (1973), Journey to the Centre of the Earth (1974), and The Myths and Legends of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table (1975), all concept albums. He formed his rock band, The English Rock Ensemble, in 1974, with which he continues to perform, and scored his first film, Lisztomania (1975). Support act is a rare show by RUSS BALLARD. Russ Ballard (now aged 76) is an English singer, songwriter and musician. Originally coming to prominence as the lead singer and guitarist for the band Argent who had hits, "Hold Your Head Up" which went to number 5 in 1972 and "God Gave Rock and Roll To You" which went to number 18 in 1973. Ballard became a songwriter and producer by the late 1970s. His compositions "New York Groove", "You Can Do Magic", "Since You Been Gone", "I Surrender", "Liar", "Winning", "I Know There's Something Going On", "Can't Shake Loose", "So You Win Again" and "God Gave Rock and Roll to You" were hits for other artists during the 1970s and 1980s. He also scored several minor hits under his own name in the early and mid-1980s. -------- I must admit this was one show that i was more interested in seeing the support act over the headliner. It is stalls seated tonight due to the elderly crowd....maybe 1000 folks are here, as all levels open. RUSS BALLARD arrived on stage at 7.45pm and played for 50 mins. Russ Ballard is certainly looking good for his age, well dying his hair helps. He has a band with him, he recently played a full set at The 100 Club , but tonight is shorter. The first three songs plodded a bit , but it was great to hear classics "Hold Your Head Up", "Since You've Been Gone" and "God Gave Rock and Roll to You". Sadly we did not get "New York Groove" or " I Surrender" tonight. RICK WAKEMAN arrived on stage at 9pm and played for 1 hour 45 mins. Rick arrives on stage wearing one of his 1970s glittery capes. He is surrounded by banks of keyboards. On musicians on the stage were : Dave Colquhoun (guitars and backing vocals), Tony Fernandez (drums and percussion), Lee Pomeroy (bass and backing vocals), Hayley Sanderson (vocals) and Adam Wakeman (keyboard, guitars and backing vocals). Most songs were keyboard based, some lasted 15 mins or so. The guitarist played a few very nifty solos. Rick played some tracks from recent album "The Red Planet" as well as older material. You can why in 1976 teenagers got bored with long keyboard solos from the likes of Yes and ELP, and that's how punk rock came along. It was ok, but I preferred the support act Russ Ballard. ----------------------------------------------- "MOOD MUSIC ANYONE?". An interesting article from one of the music trade magazines. "mood music” is one of the largest growth segments of the music industry. This makes sense because an increasing share of the hundreds of millions of people who pay for these streaming services are not really music fans. More importantly, since there is no longer any cost to access a single piece of content, music for more niche use cases like meditation, working, reading, studying or putting your baby (or yourself) to sleep are becoming important habits. It turns out, most people have more time in their day for these activities, then for actively looking for and listening to Thom Yorke’s recent single. In fact, most users who come home from work just want “something chill” to listen to and could not be bothered what artists will be part of that session.