Okumoto, Ryo (December 2004)

Date of Performance: December 8, 2004
Venue: Spirit of '66, Verviers, BE

Rockin' Ryo

Ryo Okumoto live at Spirit of '66 (photo: John Bollenberg)Upon entering the Belgian prog temple, each visitor was given two CD-singles free of charge. One was the Spock's Beard single "All On A Sunday," including a new recording and video of that specific track together with "The Truth." The other single being the Ryo Okumoto single "Winners Of The Heart" also sporting "Free Fall." Sadly these incentives were not enough to pull a huge crowd, as once again fewer than fifty people showed up. I say "once again" as, since the start of Ryo's European tour, each concert pulled fewer than fifty people. Why? I haven't the faintest idea, as the concert was an absolute highlight.

Ryo came to greet me limping. Apparently, the day of the very first concert he fell from a seven foot high stage during the band's soundcheck. He hurt his back and foot, was rushed to hospital, but still was able to perform that particular night. What a brave man! Alan Morse playing with Ryo Okumoto (photo: John BollenbergTogether with Spock's veteran Alan Morse, next to the incredible rhythm section consisting of drummer Chad Wright (Chaka Khan, Rick James, Lee Ritenour, ...) and bass player Kiyoshi Murakami (Jazztronik), the ever smiling Ryo treated his fans to a great selection of solo material as well as some Spock's Beard highlights, and a couple of surprises. A lot of the approach can be placed into the fusion and jazz direction, with Ryo often turning towards piano whether acoustic or electric. Both "The Light" and "Go The Way You Go" were big crowd favourites that night, although Alan's voice certainly doesn't match that of his brother Neal. Especially during the title track for Coming Through Neal was greatly missed! A nice surprise came with the Focus medley which combined both "Sylvia" and "Red Skies." As happens practically every night at the Spirit of '66, the band had to come back twice before everyone was finally happy. Ryo Okumoto live - bassist Kiyoshi Murakami (photo: John BollenbergAfter a blues track, the band ended with a blinding rendition of the Average White Band classic "Pick Up The Pieces." The song ended in pure improvisation with Ryo turning towards his vocoder, turning the song into a weird avant-garde direction. The way the band played you would never have guessed there were so few people present. I'm sure that when Spock's Beard tour to promote Octane early 2005, most of the European venues will once again be sold out, but to see one of the main players of the band going on tour on his own apparently doesn't pull the same crowd. However from a musical point of view I'm convinced Ryo and his band delivered one of the highlights of the year. Well done guys!

Links: Focus, Average White Band

Added: December 19th 2004
Reviewer: John "Bobo" Bollenberg

Artist website: www.ryookumoto.com
Hits: 1118
Language: english

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