Words by Joseph Dipisa-Fiorenza
Photos by Anne Laure-Marie
The first thing that stood out about Jordan Rudess’ solo show in Melbourne was how incredibly intimate the whole affair was. Despite the venue being located deep within the bowels of the sprawling Arts Centre, it felt like one big family, when prog fans and classical fans alike made their way with subdued voices to the merch desk, where they were greeted by Jordan’s wife herself, Danielle Rudess.
When Jordan made his way out onto the stage, at first it seemed this would be a concerto type gig, as he looked briefly at the audience and without a word began to recite State of Grace by his former supergroup Liquid Tension Experiment. However as soon as that song had ended he pulled around a microphone and from that moment on we had the pleasure of not only watching him perform the pieces that genuinely mean the most to him, but also hearing about his life story and how his career path led him from one world to another. He recounted tales of his earliest lessons, when his piano teacher assigned him Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star and by the next week he had arranged a jazz version, much to the excitement of his teacher.
Eventually Jordan arrived at the namesake song of the whole Bach To Rock tour. With an explanation that it really did start with Bach, he launched into a perfect performance of Partita No.5 In G Major. The first song he was assigned after being accepted into Julliard at age nine. This put into perspective just how incredible his chops were even at such a young age. At the opposite end of the spectrum is the fact that Jordan is now 62 and can still play rings around most younger musicians in terms of dexterity, speed and accuracy. His playing throughout the night was truly a marvel to behold and he deserves every recognition for the hard work he has put in across his career to be where he is in terms of musicianship.
As such, having such incredible ability on his instrument meant that he was uninhibited and able to convey all types of feelings to the audience. These included and touched at some of the more sensitive pieces like Hourglass and For Japan. As well as in shock and awe at some of the more challenging pieces such as Dream Theater’s The Dance of Eternity and Chopin’s Ballade No.1 in G Minor, Op.23. The latter of which he explains was the crux of his decision to leave Julliard and enter the rock world, due to his teacher wanting him to memorise all 25 pages in only one week.
Other highlights of the show included his iPad shredding moment over a backing track (playing with his nose included) and a medley of his favourite Dream Theater songs after explaining how he came to join the band, and briefly mentioning their next album together ‘Distance Over Time’ due on February 22, 2019.
After briefly walking off stage, Rudess returned for an extended rendition of chopsticks, blowing everybody’s mind one final time in this brilliant night of cascading notes that took us through his entire musical career.
You can purchase tickets to the remaining dates here.