Wakeman, Rick - Made In Cuba,
Fast forward some thirty years from the San Francisco show, and Rick found himself in Cuba, having been invited to Havana for a series of concerts by the Ministry of Culture, the Cuban Music Institute and the Swiss foundation, "Association Friends of Cuba". A very different line-up now, with an additional keyboard player and no brass or extra percussion, but Ashley was there again! Of all the singers that have been used by Rick, he is the one that most will associate for his incredible work on so many classic albums, and for me I always think of ‘Journey To The Centre of the Earth’ and not only is it difficult to imagine anyone else singing it, it is also hard to imagine Rick playing a show with Ashley without featuring at least part of it. So it is here, with the first CD commencing with a 24-minute version, showing that Ashley has lost none of his power.
I soon found myself relaxing into the album, pouring myself just a little more NZ wine (we are certainly blessed with both the quantity and quality of our vineyards), closing my eyes and letting myself drift along with the music. There is a selection of songs throughout his career, but of course with Ashley on board there are quite a few from the Seventies. Again, Rick allows his musicians to have some fun and there are some quite extended passages where he takes a real backseat. I get the impression that there must have been a request from someone important that they play “Starship Trooper” (followed by Steve Howe’s “Würm”), as although Ashely does his best it is well outside his range and it is interesting, of not always exactly as it should be. Strangely the show finishes with a tape playing part of “Out There”, which must have been as it was the most recent studio release at the time of the gig. But if a nearly two hour long double CD isn’t enough, there is also a DVD in this triple disc set. The complete set is available, which has been filmed with multiple cameras in very high quality, and there is also a really interesting documentary showing some of the behind the scenes with Rick talking about his experiences and how the gigs came about.
This is an indispensable set for anyone who loves Rick’s music.