Venue: The Wesley Centre, Maltby
Hosted by the Classic Rock Society, The Wesley Centre in Maltby had drawn in an enthusiastic crowd of appreciative music fans for the South Yorkshire tour date of guitar legend Gordon Giltrap, virtuoso musician and writer Oliver Wakeman and the accompanying Ravens & Lullabies band.
In true CRS style, the opening support act of the night was local group, Guy Manning & Friends; a three piece, featuring Guy Manning on guitar and vocals with both male and female backing vocals and accompanying guitar. Playing a set of folk/ prog rock, self penned numbers they tentatively warmed up the night, with a short set featuring everything from an unaccompanied vocal piece to a full band contribution with percussion and intertwined guitar melodies. A daunting task no doubt opening up for what was anticipated as a night for serious music lovers.
Six members of the Ravens & Lullabies band took to the stage, introducing the main instigators of the project, Giltrap and Wakeman.
A huge sound ensued from the stage as they opened their set with tracks from their recent collaborative album. At first glimpse you may think Giltrap and Wakeman are an unusual pairing, but as they reminisce about their shared history and Giltrap’s time spent making music with Oliver Wakeman’s father (Rick Wakeman), it is clear that the pairing of these two musical giants is a complimentary combination.
The powerful and emotive vocals of lead singer, Paul Manzi opened up the band’s set with Moneyfacturing and Maybe Tomorrow, before moving on to a lighter acoustic section of the evening featuring an acoustic set, where Giltrap took centre stage with his impressive rendition of most notably A Perfect Day and Fiona’s Smile.
Wakeman had the chance to dust off a few of his own compositions, some from his former albums Jabberwocky and Hound of the Baskervilles, but it was the touching LJW written for his wife that stood out as a song which made the set so very versatile.
Accompanied by the story and gratitude Wakeman feels for his wife, being at home with their children whilst he’s out working on tour. He explained that unusually she isn’t a fan of music and will point out only a few short melodies he’s written that she likes when he writes and plays at home. With each positive comment she made, he remembered and transcribed the melodies, piecing them together almost like a series of short movements from a symphony, dedicated to her.
The personal anecdotes and banter with the band and audience was in fact what took the night to another level and it was clear that these guys weren’t just some of the most accomplished musicians in their field, they were all round performers who kept the crowd entertained throughout the evening.
Joking about how warm it was on stage, Wakeman relented that his Dad’s cape from his years in prog rock band ‘Yes’, may be a good alternative to his leather jacket, he preceded to re-enact this with the stage curtain, much to the delight of the audience.
The full band took to the stage once again for the second half of the night, where they continued with the prog rock epic Is This The Last Song I Write? one of Wakeman’s personal favourites about the writer’s never ending worry that the ‘well of creativity’ may dry up. Featuring a mammoth solo from lead guitarist Nick Kendall on his cherry red, Fender Stratocaster he owned the stage.
They rounded up the evening with a triumphant, full band performance of Giltrap’s most notable song. Joking that it was his ‘Streets of London’, comparing it to folk singer-guitarist Ralf McTell’s famous, career-making track and the only one people ever want to hear (which I can assure you it isn’t).
The night ended on a rare, full band arrangement of Heartsong, which he commented was only the third time he’d played this version since the 1980s. A great, privilege to hear it live as it was intended when it was written all those years ago.
What an evening it had been. The audience had been treated to a plethora of Giltrap and Wakeman’s collaborative work and separate solo projects. It was a musical journey taking you through the years, staying true to their roots and bringing you up to the present day with their complimentary styles.
– Charlie Barker
View full set of live gig images: click here.