Adam Wakeman and Damian WilsonA review of Wilson & Wakeman, Acapela Studios, Pentyrch, Cardiff.

Let it be known that we are an eclectic bunch of musos on this blog. I realise an acoustic two piece probably falls outside of the remit of a rock and metal blog but after I had be subjected to the absolute barrel scraping that was Scott Bradlee’s Postmodern Jukebox the previous evening, spending a misty Sunday night in a converted church/recording studio with Adam Wakeman pianist/keyboardist/guitarist for Ozzy, Sabbath, Snakecharmer and frequent collaborator with his dad Rick and vocalist/guitarist Damian Wilson who has played in Threshold, Ayreon and Maiden UniteD seemed like a much more appealing way to spend my money. Anyway add to their collective talents that they are both a part of progressive metal act Headspace (who we found out are the most hated act in Cropredy history) and I think their metal credentials speak for themselves.

This however as I said was a tour in support of their second collaboration record as Wilson & Wakeman (not Wakeman & Wilson as was suggested by Adam) the set was an interesting mix of solo material from both, songs from both W&W records and covers, the record that got the most airing was Wilson’s brilliant solo album Built For Fighting as three songs were aired including the Radio 2 listed track Thrill Me. Between the songs was a lot of storytelling from Wilson (and dad jokes from Wakeman) in fact so much story telling that there wasn’t room for an encore but between tales of the first ever Cropredy mosh pit, Wilson’s aunt who may have stolen a cake recipe and rocks out at every gig, the hemp gifting Dutch and a woman who once brought a cake Damian asked her for in a dream we also got so brilliant music.

With Wakeman’s piano playing sounding as grandiose as possible on what exclaimed was the best piano of the tour he was backed by some splendid picking from Wilson. To get a measure of how good these performers are you simply need to see Adam play Black Sabbath’s Iron Man as a jazz piece and Wilson’s show stopping rendition of Bring Him Home from his time as Jean Valjean. The reason for this song being in the set has also quite an emotional story to it which touched even those of us with hearts made of steal. His vocal prowess throughout the night showed why he remains one of my biggest vocal influences long after I’d become another failed rock singer. His passionate acoustic version of Iron Maiden’s The Evil That Men Do displayed why he was interviewed by Maiden after Bruce left and his own songs carry a introspective but optimistic outlook. Both seemed at ease continuing conversations from the car journey onto the stage and we few that were in the audience became part of the family for one night.

The setting was mesmerising and the sound perfect, a cosy, warm inviting place to hold gigs The Acapella has now climbed high onto my list of favourite places. The way the walls shook when the small but boisterous crowd sang back Homegrown and Life On Mars (the original featuring Rick Wakeman on piano fact fans) and we cemented why Wales is the land of song, well done all. The set was paced well with Wilson resting vocals during Adams leads on Tapestries, Iron Man and his solo vocal/guitar song Catch You When You Fall. Due to the curfew the set didn’t feature an encore but with two and a half hours of magnificence no one seemed to mind. After the show Adam was talking about the possibility of doing two shows at the end of the year one W&W and one Headspace on consecutive days both in this venue.

I for one hope that pays off as having seen Headspace play a small venue in London and nearly blowing the PA the natural acoustics of The Acapella would result in one hell of show. Keep an eye out for that but also if you have the chance catch Wilson & Wakeman live as it was the ideal show to start a week of promising live music, the bar has been set high let’s hope rest of the gigs this week can deliver. 10/10