Wilson and Wakeman at the Stables, Milton Keynes - live review

Headspace's Damian Wilson and Adam Wakeman strip down their sound for this acoustic tour

Adam Wakeman joking with the audience behind at the piano
(Image: © Kevin Nixon)

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It’s puzzling, and perhaps a little infuriating, that other commitments prevent this pair from being more prolific. As they show here, there’s a natural rapport between them that both energises the performance and makes it more than amere display of musical breadth and vision.

There again, perhaps it’s because they don’t consistently work together that Damian Wilson and Adam Wakeman actually deliver so much. You can imagine that these two could easily get bored with having to live up to a reputation for being characters who play off one another with no semblance of effort or rehearsal.

Whatever the reason for the rarity of such performances as this, we should all be delighted the duo still find much to commend in continuing these collaborations. Because not only is it a musical experience of the highest calibre, but the banter and communication they have is both hilarious and instructive.

And Wilson loves nothing better than involving the audience whenever possible. Crowd participation is demanded, and it’s received on Homegrown, plus an effective cover of Iron Maiden’s The Evil That Men Do. The fourth wall isn’t so much breached here as battered into dust!

Given their combined experience and vast range of influences, nobody is sure what to expect, and that’s part of what makes this so inviting. Wilson revisits his time in Les Misérables with a stunning rendition of Bring Him Home, and also does his own Homegrown. Wakeman, meanwhile, celebrates his dad not only through Tapestries (the title track of the first album he recorded with Rick), but also a fluent version of Life On Mars? (with Wilson adding some soaring vocals) and a jazz rock arrangement of Black Sabbath’s Iron Man on piano.

The set mostly consists of covers, with just three originals from the two Wilson and Wakeman albums to date. They begin with two songs from Weir Keeper’s Tale, namely Seek For Adventure and Catch You When You Fall, and encore with the title track from new album The Sun Will Dance In Its Twilight Hour.

Some will doubtless be puzzled that they choose not to do more of their own material. However, that misses the point. Wilson and Wakeman are playing shows like this not so much to promote their catalogue as to lay bare a love of music, plus their own delight in having the chance to perform together. And the crowd witnesses a romp through many musical textures, with the main set finishing on a rendition of Charlie Rich’s country classic Feel Like Going Home.

To paraphrase a well-known music-related quote from the 70s, Wilson and Wakeman are quite simply the most fun you can have with your clothes on!

Malcolm Dome

Malcolm Dome had an illustrious and celebrated career which stretched back to working for Record Mirror magazine in the late 70s and Metal Fury in the early 80s before joining Kerrang! at its launch in 1981. His first book, Encyclopedia Metallica, published in 1981, may have been the inspiration for the name of a certain band formed that same year. Dome is also credited with inventing the term "thrash metal" while writing about the Anthrax song Metal Thrashing Mad in 1984. With the launch of Classic Rock magazine in 1998 he became involved with that title, sister magazine Metal Hammer, and was a contributor to Prog magazine since its inception in 2009. He died in 2021