Anyone who’s a fan of progressive rock knows who John Wetton is. He’s been a member of King Crimson, Asia, UK, Roxy Music and Uriah Heep. He’s played bass and sang on albums with Steve Hackett, Phil Manzanera, Geoff Downes and I’m sure there are others I’m neglecting. His pedigree is close to unmatched in the world of prog.
Here he is with an all-star band performing live in Poland, April 2003. John Mitchell (Arena, Kino, Frost) on guitar, Martin Orford (IQ, Jadis) on keyboards, and drummer Steve Christey (Jadis, Peter Gee) all pull in stellar performances in this live setting. The band performs songs from many different periods of John’s career, as well as some songs I had not heard before like the two ballads “Emma” and “After All.” John’s in great form and sounds healthy. I have 1994’s “Chasing the Dragon,“ which has a similar set but a different band. This one, Agenda, is much more preferable. There is a spark here that transcends the other live album. Whether it is the band or Wetton’s improved health, I’m not sure.
The disc opens with Crimson’s “Red.” As an instrumental introduction, it is played impeccably. The three singers (Wetton, Mitchell and Orford) all begin the next cut “Sole Survivor” in perfect harmony. This song, originally by prog-super group Asia, is improved by a ripping guitar solo by John Mitchell who is excellent throughout this CD.
Although not credited in the CD booklet, Martin Orford also plays very nice flute pieces on King Crimson’s “Book of Saturdays” and “Easy Money.” “Easy Money” in particular displays an extended instrumental section featuring both Mitchell and Orford. The two UK cuts represented, “Rendezvous 6:02” and the perennial favorite “In the Dead of Night” are more than a match to their original studio versions. I consider the band UK one of the greatest prog-super groups ever, so you know I have high regards for this performance. Once again guitarist John Mitchell comes to the fore here. He plays almost chameleon-like all over this recording, switching from Holdsworth to Fripp to very nearly a metal vibe on some tracks.
I am very tough on live recordings, much preferring studio versions whenever possible. Agenda, however will get a lot of spins in my CD player for its retrospective of John Wetton’s career and extraordinary performances. If you’re looking for a concise CD that covers a great deal of Wetton’s life, look no further than this magnificent show.
Reviewed by Terry Jackson on February 28th, 2007