CONCERT REVIEW: JORDAN RUDESS Dazzles The Audience in An Spellbinding Display of Talent to Close Solo Tour (August 6th, 2022)

Pinterest LinkedIn Tumblr +

There are two types of rock music aficionados. Those who would immediately know who Jordan Rudess is, and those who would raise an eyebrow when his name is mentioned, as a clear sign of “I don’t know who you are talking about”. If you are reading this you probably belong to the first, and after you are done devoting some minutes of your time to this article, you should show it to someone you know, who belongs in the latter group.

Mostly known for his prolonged tenure as the man behind the keyboards for the platinum-selling and Grammy winners progressive metal icons Dream Theater, Rudess have enjoyed legendary status for several decades now, not only as keyboardist, but also as software developer and composer, with his own company Wizdom Music focusing to push the boundaries of technology to create expressive and exciting tools for the making of music.

Taking advantage of a break during Dream Theater’s busy touring schedule, Jordan recently embarked on a solo tour dubbed “An Evening with Jordan Rudess”, and this piece is my humble effort to illustrate the events happened during the last night of such trek, which was held at the Amaturo Theater in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Are you familiar with Dream Theater’s bombastic and extremely complex music and visually arresting live spectacles? Well, this was nothing of the sort. Was it worthwhile to be there?… You’ll find out soon enough.

Photo by Joel Barrios

Armed with his MacBook laptop, his iPad, a set of headphones, one guitar, and a luscious Steinway & Sons piano, Rudess began the evening with a completely improvised piece that garnered one of the many fervorous applause of the night, after he confessed, he didn’t have anything planned for it, and just played what came to his mind. From that moment on, he took the audience on an intimate yet  lively journey throughout his life and career, intertwining anecdotes from his early musical formation days at the Juilliard School of Music – and how he dabbled with his studies during those formative years – his bold attempt some years later of abandoning that path against all odds and trying his hand as a solo progressive rock keyboardist, and obviously some stories about his more than 25 years with “that side project of mine which you might have heard about called Dream Theater,” including hilarious moments when he shared some insights about the creative process in the studio and the interactions with his band-mates.

Now, let’s be clear. One thing is to be a keyboard whiz and a borderline-inhuman piano player, capable of performing the most daunting arrangements and prodigious melodies while your hands move over the keys of a piano at dizzying speed for mere mortals like me; and a totally different one is to present yourself in front of hundreds of spectators, as an army-of-one type of show, and turn the experience into highly enjoyable for those in attendance. There’s a prominent level of charisma required to achieve such a mission, and many musicians will miserably fail if presented with that challenge, despite how accomplished they can be with their instruments. Nevertheless, Rudess passed that test with flying colors, exhibiting a natural charm which unquestionably moved the presentation to outstanding territory.

Photo by Joel Barrios

Trying to define Jordan’s abilities while pulsating the keys of the piano, toying with his own GeoShred app on the iPad – which he played for a couple of minutes solely using the tip of his nose, – or  engaging in a short guitar piece (at times vertiginous, at times poignant) is an undertaking my writing skills would miserably collapse at: you’ve got to be there and experience it in the flesh, while at the same time questioning if your eyes are deceiving you, or “How on Earth is he even able to do that?” as the guy sitting next to us murmured at some point during the show.

Photo by Joel Barrios

It was an evening bursting of exceptional moments and mentioning them all would be nearly implausible. Some highlights for this writer were his own rendition of Bach’s “Partita No. 5 in G major”; using the Moises software to extract some of the original tracks of King Crimson’s “Moon Child” or YES“Soon” to virtually duet with the late Greg Lake and one of his favorite singers Jon Anderson; asking the audience to participate in an 11/8 groove improvisation by clapping to keep the time-signature count; playing and signing a lovely and personal take of Bowie’s “Space Oddity”, and ending the night with a massive Dream Theater’s medley, comprised by my own count by sections of at least 11 tracks.

After almost an hour and 40 minutes of music and several ovations, Rudess came back on stage for an encore, which included Dream Theater “The Spirit Carries On” and a shorter medley, concluding with the piano ending of Liquid Tension Experiment’s “Universal Mind.” As he previously announced, when the spectacle was over he showed up at the merch table to meet a long line of fans and sign whatever they brought with them, activity that prolonged for almost two hours and further cemented his down to Earth demeanor, a trait you don’t easily find in musicians of his caliber and prestige.

There are two types of rock music aficionados. Those who have been touched by the grace of this virtuoso musician in a magical solo setting, and those who are yet to experience it. I am fortunate to count myself in the former group. Are you?

JORDAN RUDESS  Photo Gallery


Comments are closed.

error: This content is copyrighted!