Over the course of his incredible career, Rick Wakeman has acquired a story or two. From recording with David Bowie to his extensive time as the keyboardist for progressive rock band Yes, Wakeman has had some unique experiences. However, during this solo show, which combines Wakeman’s incredible proficiency on the piano with his penchant for storytelling, the audience is treated instead to stories that are surprisingly relatable.
Dressed in a t-shirt, baggy trousers, and a dark leather duster - recalling his caped costume from his Yes days - Wakeman doesn’t look like he is about to give a piano concert, but he does look like a man with a story. This is rather appropriate, since he is not interested in just playing music for us, but in helping us understand why he is playing it at all. A piece of music is always preceded by a story. There is never a sense that Wakeman intends to show off, just to share.
Instances that at first seem like name-dropping opportunities turn into stories about frustrations or moments of revelation. Each story is resolved nicely with a punch line, and an easy transition or explanation for the next piece Wakeman is going to play. Despite its complete erraticism, it has a kind of rhythm and pace that moves it steadily onward.
Behind all the charming and funny stories is the music. Wakeman has long been considered one of the great keyboardists of all time, and the tag is rightly deserved. Through a selection of material, ranging from pieces from his solo catalogue, to instrumental pieces from his days with Yes, to a version of Eleanor Rigby done in the style of Prokofiev, Wakeman is relentlessly entertaining to watch behind a piano.
The former Yes man does not have to do much to convince us that he is an excellent musician; his catalogue speaks for itself. Instead, it is the casual, sincere, and comical nature with which he speaks about his life that makes him endearing to us as an audience. It genuinely seems like he has come to Edinburgh to share himself and his experiences with each of us. They are definitely worth sharing.