“I consider having John Wetton as my musical partner back in the late ‘70s as one of my luckier breaks,” says Eddie Jobson who kicks off a short tour this week alongside guitarist Marc Bonnilla as they perform music from UK, King Crimson and ELP.
The Fallen Angels Tour promises an intimate evening of music and storytelling recalling some of their favourite musical moments, with Jobson recounting his work with John Wetton who died last year. “John’s harmonic sense was based on European classical and church music (his brother, like my grandfather, was a church organist), and this harmonic sensibility led him to be a very melodic writer and bass player. I could come in with something a bit more harmonically and rhythmically complex like In The Dead of Night and John would have no difficulty coming up with a melodic vocal line that would turn the piece into a seemingly cohesive song. Of course, as well as that powerful and distinctive baritone voice, John will be remembered for his unique and ground-shaking bass sound.”
The idea for the Jobson/Bonilla project came after the guitarist, who first worked with Emerson in the ‘90s, organised the tribute Emerson in May last year. “It was in Los Angeles. I think we had thirty-one musicians on stage - many of Keith’s L.A.-based friends and colleagues. I was given the honour of playing the Moog modular and performing the iconic solo on Lucky Man, as well as playing Fanfare For The Common Man with a full brass section,” recalls Jobson.
Knowing that there were many fans unable to attend the concert but keen to celebrate and remember their heroes, the duo looked at how best to take such a concert out on the road. The economics of touring at that kind of scale were understandably out of the question. “In order to take a small version of that show to other cities worldwide, and after John Wetton’s passing, we decided the only practical and cost-effective way to pay tribute to both John and Keith was to reduce the performance down to a semi-acoustic duo. This is an intimate tribute to our two musical partners, with storytelling, Q&A, and some of the more emotional and musical compositions we associate with these two prog giants.”
Jobson admits that the biggest technical challenge for this tour has been reducing the sounds required for some very complex UK and ELP material down to a single keyboard and laptop, involving him programming some of Emerson’s synth sounds into software instruments. “However,” he says, “many of the pieces work surprisingly well with just sampled grand piano and acoustic guitar.”
Jobson has no doubt about the impact Keith Emerson had upon him as a player. “He forged the path for every rock keyboard player that came after him…his playing, writing and showmanship was so immense that it is almost overlooked that he was also a ground-breaking synthesizer pioneer and sound designer. As the complete rock keyboardist, he will never be surpassed.”
Eddie and Marc play London’s Under The Bridge this Saturday, April 22. Tickets are available here.
They play Trading Boundaries this Sunday, April 23. Tickets are available here.