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DVD: The Six Wives of Henry VIII - Live at the Hampton Court Palace by RIck Wakeman

Keyboardist Rick Wakeman’s 1970s classic progressive-rock concept album The Six Wives Of Henry VIII, was never performed in its entirety until May, 2009 when the event occurred within the halls of British royalty at London’s historic Hampton Court Palace. Here, Wakeman garners the support of the English Chamber Choir, Orchestra Europa, the English Rock Ensemble and narrator Brian Blessed. It’s a grand showcase indeed, amid all the pomp and splendor that parallels the 500th anniversary of Henry VIII’s rise to the throne. With a multi-tiered stage setup, and the camera crew’s diligent employment of pan, zoom and wide-angel techniques, the two-hour performance elevates Wakeman’s seminal album into an extravagant spectacle.

Like his 1970s counterpart and keyboardist Keith Emerson (Emerson, Lake & Palmer), Wakeman’s stylistic merging of classical, jazz and rock phrasings with the band YES, signaled a new era of rock’s expansive realm. With this dazzling performance, Wakeman injects a broad scope via his analog and digital keys. And he incorporates judicious amounts of regality into these familiar pieces, instilled with medieval overtones, and knotty progressive-rock like time signatures. Moreover, the keyboardist benefits from accenting strings, and stately vocal backdrops to enamor some of the original configurations, used with mellotron and synth-based strings choruses.

Marked by technical perfection and memorably melodic themes, the overall production is a majestic one at that. Narrator Brian Blessed offers intermittent dialogue, pertaining to Henry VIII’s wives while morphing a bit of wit and whimsy into the plot as well. Ultimately, Wakeman’s fluid and meticulous exercises assist with generating a polytonal feast for the mind’s eye as he contrasts merry old England with a modernistic outlook in rather spectacular fashion. (*Also available are, audio-only CD release of this performance and Blu-Ray DVD)

Additional Info

  • Artist / Group Name: RIck Wakeman
  • CD Title: DVD: The Six Wives of Henry VIII - Live at the Hampton Court Palace
  • Genre: Progressive
  • Year Released: 2009
  • Record Label: Eagle Rock Entertainment
  • Rating: Four Stars
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