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Keyboard legend Rick Wakeman appears solo at the Garde Saturday

In the old days, signing on to be a roadie for prog rock icon Rick Wakeman wasn't particularly easy. Not that Wakeman isn't a personable, very funny person — as folks will see during his "Even Grumpier Old Rock Star" tour when it hits the Garde Arts Center Saturday.

In the old days, though, when Wakeman was in Yes or doing any of his grand conceptual solo tours, his road crew could expect to unload and set up, oh, a cathedral pipe organ, a grand piano, a circus calliope, a Mellotron, perhaps a faux castle façade, and a mountain range of synthesizers with a spider web of electrical cables that look like the garage outlet when Chevy Chase plugged in his outdoor holiday lights in "National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation."

Do NOT expect a similar barrage of prog-rock overdose at the Garde.

Rather, Wakeman will appear solo and play piano selections from across his career — including session work for the likes of David Bowie and Cat Stevens — and tell wondrous and hilarious anecdotes that illuminate his life and work and provide a connective narrative for what will be an incredibly entertaining evening. Plus, in a late-breaking new innovation, concert-goers will be given the chance to write down a question for Wakeman as they enter the venue, and the artist will select a few to answer onstage during the show.

Masks will be required inside the venue, as well as proof of full vaccination. Unvaccinated patrons must provide documented proof negative PCR test within 72 hours of the start of the event, or a negative antigen test taken within 48 hours of the start of the event.

Rick Wakeman, 8 p.m. Saturday, Garde Arts Center, 325 State St., New London; $40-$60;, (860) 444-7373.


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