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July 12, 2024

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John Wetton
Amorata (Metal Mind Productions)

By: Vinnie Apicella

Veteran Rocker John Wetton's has been involved in an impressive array of musical ventures throughout his three decade career, culminating in this live performance for some two thousand in Krakow, Poland earlier this year. "Amorata" finds Wetton and his latest "solo" band touring for their latest "Rock Of Faith" release; a release that Wetton himself described as more "spiritual" and "slow tempoed" than much of his previous Prog/Rock wandering.

The live performance is a career spanning showcase of thirteen songs that embody the bulk of Wetton's work that included stints with Fripp, Bruford and Frost in King Crimson, Uriah Heep, the Modern/Prog styled UK, and finally Asia in the early '80s, before concentrating fully on a solo career. Beginning with "Red," an ambitious instrumental anthem from his earliest days as a young bassist for King Crimson in the '70s, Wetton and co. then flew into "Soul Survivor," the third single and sleeper hit from Asia's popular self-titled debut in '82; "Nothing's Gonna Stand In Our Way," the lone rep from "Rock Of Faith," to the classic Crimson, "Book Of Saturday." It's clear from the onset Wetton's latest group is a talented cast of youthful yet seasoned players able to easily connect with the complexity of Wetton's musical roots, maintaining a fluidity and aura that equates and often exceeds the high bar of expectation previously established.

Wetton's present-day focus is revealed in a more "personal" nature for songs like "Emma," an emotional ballad from his "Arkangel" release that precedes the equally stirring "The Smile Has Left Your Eyes," from Asia's "Alpha" album, where in both instances, Wetton adopts a Clapton-like persona as the volume lowers and the lights dim. The energy returns quickly as the band plugs in and pushes the power button for "In The Dead Of Night," another influential moment this time from his later work with the band, UK, it's one of the less obscure tracks and a widely held blueprint for many of today's popular Prog/Metal acts like Dream Theater and Fates Warning. The prolific "Easy Money" follows and provides another fine example of the power and grandeur present here, handled almost too flawlessly by Wetton's band, highlighted again by the drumming of Steve Christey, who only moments before worked the set into a breathless sweat.

Wetton, the central focal point onstage, firmly planted behind the bass and mic, is a physical and vocal combination of Gary Moore and Pete Townshend, save for those few tear-inducing moments, and is clearly confident and enjoying every second. His band, which includes Christey, keyboardist Martin Orford, and guitarist John Mitchell, excels on every level and decade, whether squeezing out an intricate keyboard sequence or heavy Rock jam, something Mitchell is more than proficient at, often lending an extension of quick runs to augment the songs at mid-point or closing as he does on the rousing "Heat Of The Moment" which brought the evening to a close amidst widespread cheer before the band bowed and exited stage left.

Wetton, a classically-influenced performer with a Prog/Pop focus, has made a musical career to move people. With fourteen solo records under his belt and having first gotten his wings playing with people like Bruford and Fripp, Palmer, Collins and Downes, Wetton's body of work is an impressive one, if not always commercially accessible. "Amorata" captures the timelessness and emotion of a solid if not so storied career of a talented musician who's seen, said, and done more than most could conceive of, and still going strong, as evidenced by this impressive evening's performance, which also includes a revealing Wetton interview from the evening before. "Amorata" is enticing, exciting, and emotional; highly recommended viewing on all counts.

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