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)