JOR­DAN RUDESS

VENUE ST PAN­CRAS NEW CHURCH, LON­DON DATE 03/04/2018

Prog - - Take A Bow - JO KEN­DALL

As Ian Dury noted, there ain’t half been some clever bas­tards. The prog scene is teem­ing with ’em, from poly­math mu­si­cians to lyri­cal ge­niuses. But as a genre that prefers to let the mu­sic speak for it­self, apart from Wake­man, An­der­son, Eno and per­haps a Gen­e­sis alum­nus or two, there are few who stick a nog­gin over the ‘Evening With…’ para­pet.

Which is why it’s good to see Dream

Theater key­boardist Jor­dan Rudess don his sto­ry­telling cape for this From Bach To Rock tour. A youth­ful 61 and no stranger to the for­mat (he and DT gui­tarist John Petrucci did this in 2000), the New Yorker has a stack of tales that date back to be­ing recog­nised as a child prodigy in sec­ond grade to in­vent­ing his own mu­sic soft­ware. Sat at a Yamaha grand in this gor­geous Grade I-listed build­ing, Rudess per­forms two sets that cover his life chronologically.

With the pre­co­cious Mozart as a bench­mark, there’s an em­bel­lished Twinkle, Twinkle,

Lit­tle Star, then Bach’s Par­tita No 5. Ut­terly charm­ing and at ease, Rudess de­scribes a prog awak­en­ing as a teen, play­ing a great med­ley of Floyd, Gen­e­sis and Crim­son tunes that ends with a dra­matic, sung The Court Of The

Crim­son King. Af­ter a lit­tle Chopin (Rudess was hailed as the next big con­cert pian­ist sen­sa­tion at Juil­liard, but took a rock­ier road) and Imag­ine, it’s time for a break, bums off pews for a leg stretch and a tip­ple from the table at the back.

Set two has the fun­ni­est vi­gnettes of find­ing his way in rock, try­ing to slip in 7/8 break­downs while play­ing prom dances and per­form­ing at bankers’ dos where a D mi­nor could cause wal­lets to snap shut immediately. On to meet­ing Mike Port­noy, and Liq­uid Ten­sion Ex­per­i­ment’s Hourglass – a seam­less syn­the­sis of clas­si­cal and rock – be­fore a triple whammy of Hol­low

Years, The Silent Man and The Spirit Car­ries On sees a flurry of cam­era phones emerg­ing to cap­ture the mo­ment.

When iamthe­morn­ing’s Mar­jana Semk­ina joins him, there’s a ten­der Space Odd­ity, then Rudess com­man­deers a vel­vet and carved-oak lec­turn for a funky Blues Jam on an iPad, show­cas­ing his GeoShred soft­ware.

Af­ter that, it’s back to the pi­ano (we’re sur­prised he hasn’t seized the Vic­to­rian pipe or­gan just 20 feet away) for the neo­clas­si­cal In­ter­stices, his tsunami-sur­vivors trib­ute For Ja­pan, DT’s The Dance Of Eter­nity, and the most elab­o­rate Chop­sticks ever heard.

Time flies and at­ten­tion is pin-drop rapt. Given the op­por­tu­nity, a fan Q&A might have worked, and the evening could have been all Dream Theater, Liq­uid Ten­sion and Rudess orig­i­nals alone. But one thing’s clear: Rudess is a twin­kling, not-so-lit­tle star him­self.

“SAT AT A YAMAHA

GRAND IN THIS GOR­GEOUS GRADE I-LISTED BUILD­ING, RUDESS PER­FORMS TWO SETS THAT COVER HIS LIFE CHRONOLOGICALLY.”

WOR­SHIP MU­SIC: THE STUN­NING ST PAN­CRAS NEW CHURCH.

SPE­CIAL GUEST MAR­JANA SEMK­INA.

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