My anticipation rose day by day when more and more European dates for Jordan Rudess’ solo show “From Bach to Rock: A Musician’s Journey” were announced earlier this year. After doing a handful of these shows in the US back in 2017 of which I would have loved to attend one, I was of course very positively surprised. With three shows in Germany, my home country is even most represented on this tour. Too bad that I had booked a four day vacation on these very dates. But that problem was easy to solve, and so me and a friend spontaneously booked a short trip to Amsterdam together with two tickets for Jordan’s concert in the adjacent city of Utrecht.
Only mentioned in passing, Amsterdam is an amazing city and definitely worth a visit...
We started the evening with a dinner together with Jeroen and Coen, who founded the Jordan Rudess fanclub many years ago and who have also lots of funny and interesting stories related to Jordan Rudess and Dream Theater to tell.
The sublime location of “Tivoli Vredenburg” located directly at the city’s main station is a rather new building complex with several concert halls. Jordan would play in “Cloud Nine”, a very modern hall that provided room for up to approx. 300 seats. The stage design was as plain as expected: a wonderful sounding Steinway grand piano and a microphone is all it takes for Jordan Rudess to entertain the full house for two-and-a-half hours, including an intermission of about 30 minutes.
We were a little late with buying our tickets, and initially, we were a bit disappointed that the only two side by side places that were still available were on the small balcony of the room. But by pure chance, these were two of the very few seats where you could directly see Jordan’s hands.
When we arrived at the venue, we were stunned to learn that Jordan is traveling without any crew and instead is only accompanied by his beautiful wife who does not only help him with the merchandise suitcases that fortunately became lighter and lighter after every concert, but who also does lots of organization on this tour.
After a warm welcome by the audience, it very soon became obvious that the concert’s name reflects its programme. I count myself to those people who like to be surprised. Thus, I hardly knew what to expect. And so I was all the more pleased that Jordan would not just do a “simple” concert and play some songs. Others write their autobiography and release it as a book. But Jordan invites his fans to his very personal, musical journey.
Jordan begins by telling how this very journey started when he was a five year old kid who would sit at the piano at school and start to improvise. His teacher told his mother how beautiful that sounded and how good he was at that, and Jordan’s mother did not know about anything and at first thought the teacher mixed up the parents. What follows is a several minutes long improvisation on the children’s song “Mary Had a Little Lamb”.
Between the pieces, Jordan always explains how his musical career went on. He is a very good story teller, and his story is everything but boring anyway. Later, the show continues for example with a piece by Bach that he had to play at an audition at the Juillard Highschool. Especially remarkable for me was to see him performing the very last piano piece that he learned before he broke up with his classical career. Without spoiling too much, I only say: 30 sheets of music by Chopin. Equally impressive were the following pieces that shaped and accompanied him through the years. These include a tribute to his prog rock idols as well as some original compositions and music of Liquid Tension Experiment and Dream Theater. And for those who do not know yet: Jordan is a very good singer, too, which he also proves two times during the show. Just before the end, the piano had a little timeout when Jordan demonstrated one of his many iPad apps called GeoShred with a rocking improvisation.
I truly enjoyed every single moment of the show. From improvisations that made me dream to some little jokes to quite some touching moments. Even though I am a fan of his music for more than twenty years now, I have learned so much more about him. This small concert in an almost intimate setting made me feel like I was experiencing something very, very special that I am so grateful for. For me, it was an absolute Jordan Rudess highlight. Admittedly I am a die hard fan, I like pretty much everything that is related to Mr. Rudess, but also the rest of the audience seemed to be as enthusiastic as I was! Also technically, Jordan is still at the top! I did not notice any blunder at all. It was simply a perfect night for me. When Jordan left the stage, I could hardly believe that he had already played for two hours.
At least to all of his fans and to all piano players who have the possibility to see him on this tour, I highly recommend you to do so! The complete package of high-quality music, stories, the fitting atmosphere, funny as well as touching moments made this show an unforgettable experience for me.
I really hope Jordan’s journey is to go on for a very long time – whether as a solo artist or together with Dream Theater. But if this night is ever to beat? Still amazed of the whole experience, I am inclined to doubt it.