In Concert (King Biscuit Flower Hour Records 70710-88009-2)
Winterland Theater, San Francisco, CA – November 2nd, 1975
(75:29): Journey to the Center of the Earth, Catherine Howard, Lancelot & The Black Knight, Anne Boleyn, The Forest, Arthur & Guinevere, Merlyn the Magician, Catherine Parr
Rick Wakeman’s ambition reached a peak with the King Arthur LP and the subsequent tours. He staged the production in May 1975 on ice, an even referred to as one of the most shocking events in rock. When he toured the US later that year, he wisely ditched the ice and orchestra for a more rock-oriented approach.
King Biscuit Flower Hour recorded the November 2nd show at Winterland in San Francisco for broadcast on November 30th (with Renaissance). In Concert was released in 1996 and remains the only pressed edition of the show. Other shows on this tour also include “1st Symphony” (which opened the show in other stops of this tour including Waterbury and Cincinnati), “Down And Out” and “The Battle.” But the seventy-five and a half minute recording captures the complete San Francisco show.
Wakeman’s band during this time included John Dunsterville on guitar, Roger Newell on bass, Tony Fernandez on drums, John Hodgson on tuned and untuned percussion, Ashley Holt on vocal, Martin Shields on trumpet and Reg Brooks on trombone all dubbed the English Rock Ensemble.
The recording starts off with a twelve minute edit of “The Journey To The Centre Of The Earth,” the concept piece which occupied the setlist on the previous tours. It is tastefully done, hitting upon the hightlights of the piece.
“Cathrine Howard” is much expanded over the studio recording. Guitarist Dunsterville has a relatively long solo spot in the middle of piece. His playing at first is very reminiscent of Steve Howe, hinting at deep Spanish and classical influences. He also plays bits of Scott MacKenzie’s “San Francisco,” “California, Here I Come” and Led Zeppelin’s “Whole Lotta Love.”
“Sir Lancelot And The Black Knight” brings some punk energy to the show and is the one number in the set for which Holt’s abrasive vocals actually work.
“The Forest” is the second piece from Journey to be played in the show. It ends with the band playing Edvard Grieg’s “Hall of the Mountain King.” The set ends with “Cathrine Parr,” the third of Henry VIII’s six wives to make it into the set. In Concert is out of print, but is posted on Wolfgang’s Vault and inexpensive copies can be found on ebay.If you liked this review, buy me a cup of joe. (Suggested: $3 a shot or $7.5 for a double)