Review: Wilson Wakeman live at The Stables

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Wilson Wakeman

Live at The Stables, Milton Keynes

It shouldn’t really be all that surprising when the three children shuffle to the stage, assemble at the microphone and begin a little chorus of ‘Ooohs.’

They look pretty at ease with the whole thing. But then 12-year-old Skyla and eight-year-olds Taja & Kai have music in their blood.

To their right, dad Adam Wakeman is showing his versatility and prowess at the keys. And their grandad? He’s not here today, but goes by the name of Rick Wakeman.

Music is a real family affair, for sure.

This Wavendon Stables show is one of a few dates that Wakeman has managed to cram in, around his many other projects.

His partner in sound for the evening is Damian Wilson, a man whose versatile strong vocals have been filling the auditorium, working wonderfully alongside Adam’s guitar work and that inspired playability at the keys.

And tonight, Adam is facing a Steinway piano. It sounds beautiful.

There is a decidedly friendly atmosphere to this show, in the literal sense - pals have flooded to the venue for the intimate date with the duo, and are being rewarded with two sets of sublime playability.

Both have a rock pedigree (Adam spent years in the ranks of Black Sabbath, only bowing out three weeks before this date, when the band called time on their own career, although he will be out on the road again with Ozzy Osbourne this summer), while Damian has been in demand from prog-rock troupes and the theatrical stage (once spending two years in Cameron Mackintosh’s Les Miserables) for his enviable vocal capability.

But this show is stripped back, pure, simple and sensational.

Musically, there is nowhere to hide from errors here, and nowhere needed as they pull material from their own catalogues and their collaborative album Weir Keeper’s Tale.

They even throw in an inspired choice to be given the Wilson Wakeman treatment; Iron Maiden’s The Evil That Men Do.

The uninitiated would have no idea that it’s usually delivered by the warbly-vocals of Bruce Dickinson and his metal comrades.

There’s even a nod to the late, great Dudley Moore during the evening. Known of course for his comedic value, Dudley was also a sublime pianist. Strangely enough, he recorded an album live in this very venue...

As they go about their music making, Adam and Damian share stories, anecdotes and lots of laughs.

While those laughs will have since faded since last Sunday’s show, the smiles induced by their collaborative work will stay put for a long time to come.

And if they ever need backing singers, there are three youngsters, ready, willing and able, at home!

Pic: Geoff Arnold