Rick Wakeman’s The Six Wives Of Henry VIII is one of the landmark albums of the seventies, a critical and commercial success that has sold in excess of 15 million copies worldwide. In May 2009, Wakeman finally achieved his long held dream of performing the entire album live at Hampton Court Palace. It was the first time the whole album had ever been performed in concert and included the Henry VIII track “Defender Of The Faith,” that had to be cut from the original album for space reasons, plus new opening and closing pieces. The two spectacular sell out concerts were a never to be repeated event, which give those not able to attend the ability to experience this epic performance.
The Six Wives Of Henry VIII release features extended live performances of Wakeman’s most popular album with the English Rock Ensemble accompanied by the Orchestra Europa and the English Chamber Choir with Brian Blessed as narrator. The release offers two hours of great entertainment, as well as a behind the scenes feature with Rick, and also offers additional new tracks premiered at the concert. The DVD and Blu-ray versions come packaged in a deluxe slipcase with a reproduction of the concert program.
Truth be told…I had no idea who Wakeman was until I looked him up online. I was quite amazed at how large his resume was, as he was quite prominent in the music business in the late 70s and early 80s. But then I remembered I wasn’t born until the late 80s so not knowing who he was made perfect sense. Known for his use of the electric keyboard in such bands as Yes, Wakeman made quite the name and place for himself in the music industry. His first solo album, upon which this concert is based, was released way back in 1973, so for Wakeman to finally play this album in its entirety thirty-six years after the fact is…well, quite amazing.
Listening to the concert now? Ehh…it’s definitely got a 70s vibe to it with all of the keyboard and just the general composition of the music. Not to say that it’s bad, mind you, as I’m sure the styling’s of Wakeman quite appealed to the fans who attended this one-time-only two-night performance of the CD in its entirety (and then some), but as someone who grew up more with the sounds of more modern rock, I couldn’t really get into this concert. While I really do applaud Wakeman for finally being able to perform this concert, it really didn’t win me over as a newcomer to the musical styling’s that he showed off here.
The full tracklisting includes:
01) Tudorture / Henry’s Fanfare
02) Tudorture / 1485
03) Catherine Of Aragon
04) Kathryn Howard
05) Jane’s Prelude
06) Jane Seymour
07) Defender Of The Faith
08) Katherine Parr
09) Anne Of Cleves
10) Anne Boleyn
12) Tudoture “14:85”
Overall a solid presentation for the fans, for which it is Recommended but if you didn’t grow up during the era or already a fan of his music then this concert won’t do much for you.
Eagle Rock has released this concert in a standard Elite Blu-ray case with a double sided jacket. Inside the case are photos from the concert as well as a full 25 page booklet that is a reproduction of the concert program. The press release mentions a deluxe slipcase as well, but my review copy did not come with one.
Video arrives in the form of a AVC transfer and, seeing as this concert was just performed earlier this year, looks spectacular. Solid crowd and stage details all around, especially the close-ups on the band…quite amazing for a picture that isn’t even full HD (it is, once again, 1080i). Why they haven’t graduated to full 1080p transfers I don’t know…but hey, this still looks good.
Audio comes in three varieties (as usual): DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1, DD5.1, and LPCM Stereo. As usual the DTS-HD wins out over the other two, with a very nice spread across all channels and plenty of subwoofer activity from the music as well as the crowd. The other two audio tracks here are solid as well, but the DTS-HD MA track wins hands down if you’re able to decode it with the right player/receiver combo.
Behind the Scenes Featurette (16:56, HD)
Extras are light but the behind the scenes featurette really gives you a better idea of Wakeman and the effort he went through to get this concert together. Recommended, once again, for fans only.
Rick Wakeman – The Six Wives of Henry VIII is now available on Blu-ray and DVD.