Jon Anderson Manchester Royal Exchange Theatre August 4th 2013
A special solo performance with the frontman of YES – Jon Anderson
Last night I went to see Jon Anderson in solo concert at the Royal Exchange Theatre in Manchester. The show was billed thus: “Frontman of one of the biggest bands of all time, Jon Anderson brings his stunning voice and exquisite songs to Manchester’s Royal Exchange Theatre for this very special solo performance. Expect a magical night that draws from the YES songbook and includes all-time classics such as Owner Of A Lonely Heart, Wonderous Stories, Long Distance Runaround, and Yours Is no Disgrace.” The venue sounded interesting and lived up to its description on the Royal Exchange site: “The Royal Exchange Theatre is a seven-sided, glass-walled capsule, literally suspended from huge marble pillars situated in The Great Hall of the historic Victorian Cotton Exchange Buildings in Manchester city centre. The unique design means all seats are less than nine metres from the circular stage giving views from all angles.” I arrived around 7pm after a uneventful drive down the A1 and across the M62. I parked the car in the Arndale NCP, and found the venue, which is situated right in the centre of Manchester, just up from Victoria station. I had a look around, and took my seat. Although I was in Row G, which was the back row of the lower level, I was still very close to the performance area. In the centre of the floor a carpet was set out surrounded by candles, and a couple of microphones. Behind the carpet stood two guitars and an electric piano. Shortly after 7.30pm Jon walked into the theatre space unannounced to the sound of bird song, with the light still on. It was clear this was going to be a special evening; the venue was sold out, and the setting was perfect for a low-key, friendly acoustic concert. The lights went down and Jon stood in the centre of the floor, a few feet from all of us. I notice that during the show he took care to turn around so that everyone got a good chance to see him.
The set was a mix of Jon Anderson’s back catalogue; mostly Yes, but also some from his time with Vangelis and from his solo career. I recognised most of the songs, but a few were unfamiliar to me, so apologies if I haven’t got the setlist quite right. Jon seemed very relaxed, and pleased to be with us. The format of the show was Jon accompanying himself on acoustic guitar for most of the evening, with a short spell on a dulcimer, a ukelele and piano. Some of the songs were performed in full, while others were snippets of the Yes originals. Between the songs Jon told some stories drawn from his past experiences, and told some (not particularly good :)) jokes. The set went something like this (I am sure that I have missed some): Yours is no Disgrace; Sweet dreams; America (Jon told us how he recently met Paul Simon while he was in Australia); Time and a Word (a reggae treatment); One Love (the Bob Marley song). The next few songs were performed on a dulcimer; Under heavens door; Flight of the Moorglade (? I think). Jon was then back to acoustic guitar; he talked about his first meeting with Vangelis, and how he had originally attempted to line him up as a replacement for Rick Wakeman in Yes. That didn’t work out, so he decided to record with Vangelis himself. This led into Jon singing Find my way Home, and recalling an interesting memory of how he had to persuade Vangelis to play on Top of the Pops (“I am a serious musician”). Then it was back to Yes songs: Starship Trooper; Give Love each Day; Long Distance Runaround; and Owner of the Lonely Heart, brought the first half of the concert to close. After a short interval, Jon resumed the show sitting at the electric piano for a medley of Close to the Edge; Heart of the Sunrise; Marry Me Again; and The Revealing Science of God. He then picked up a ukelele for You Got the Light. It was back to guitar for And You and I; and Ritual (Nous Sommes du Soliel). For the next song “Tony and Me”, Jon took us back to 1963, when he was a young guy playing in a Beatles-influenced band, along with his brother Tony. He told a story of seeing the Beatles at Southport Floral Hall; of playing with Joe Cocker in Sheffield; of smoking a joint with Robert Plant up in a club in Newcastle when Plant was in Listen, and of a Liverpool band called the Undertakers whose singer (I think it was Jackie Lomax?) came on stage in a coffin and how one night he was trapped in the coffin. A couple of more songs led into John Lennon’s Give Peace a Chance; and then he closed the show with Yes favourites I’ve Seen All Good People and Roundabout, with everyone standing and singing along for the last song. He couldn’t leave without an encore, and sang a few more songs: A Day in the Life (back to the uke for a cover of the Beatles song); Sun is Calling; State of Independence; Wonderous Stories; and Soon. The show finished around 10pm, and I was home around 12.15am.
A great evening. Of course if was very different from seeing Yes, but the personal and intimate approach worked well. Jon’s voice was fine, much much stronger than I expected, and he was in good spirits, very chatty with the home crowd. My next Yes event will be seeing the latest version of that band up in Newcastle early next year, a concert which I am looking forward to. I also notice that Rick Wakeman is going out on tour next year with his Journey to the Centre of the Earth album. Now I wasn’t a big fan of the album when it came out, but I must admit I am tempted to go and see the show. The comings and goings of Yes band members remains as complex and confusing as ever, but I guess it was ever so.
Archive for the ‘Jon Anderson’ Category
Jon Anderson Manchester Royal Exchange Theatre August 4th 2013
Jon Anderson Newcastle City Hall
Support from Clare Hamill (thanks Doug)
Jon had just left Yes for a solo career. He had been replaced in Yes by Trevor Horn and Geoff Downes of Buggles, which is a story for another day’s blog. I remember this show well. Marie came along with me and we had tickets near the front, sitting right in front of Jon. Jon’ s solo material was very impressive and his voice as strong and beautiful as ever. He focussed on material from his solo album which had just been released and also threw in a few Yes favourites. Jon Anderson has a unique voice which works best on the jazz tinged ballads that early Yes produced. He always seems very at ease on stage. I guess there were ego clashes between him and Chris Squire, who are both clearly very strong personalities, but this never showed on stage. Yes were one of the first bands that I ever saw, in the late 60s, and I’ve always had a soft spot for them. I do hope that Jon rejoins the rest of the Yes guys some day. Although Yes are still great, it will never be quite the same for me without Jon centre stage, preferably wearing a cheesecloth smock top and singing And You And I or Your Is No Disgrace.
Anderson and Wakeman Sage Gateshead 8 November 2010
Will and I went to see Jon Anderson and Rick Wakeman on Monday at the Sage Gateshead. The two former members of Yes have toured before together, however this is the first time that they have come to the North East and hence the first time that Will and I had seen them in this formation. The show was billed as The Project 360 Tour and featured a selection of new songs form their new album The LivingTree (they called this part of the show the “recital”) and many old Yes favourites (the “recycle”!). The show was in two halves with a short internal between. Will and I had wondered on the way through whether the two guys would be accompanied by a band; in fact there was no band. The show was centred around Rick on two keyboards and Jon on acoustic guitar and vocals. We were treated to lots of banter between the two of them, which highlighted their very different personalities; Jon still very much an old hippy, Rick a bloke who would be more at home in the local pub.
The new songs sounded OK, and were very Yes like, but it was the Yes classics that the pretty full house had come to see. These included Yours is No Disgrace, Sweet Dreams, Time and a Word, Roundabout, Starship Trooper, And you and I, Owner of the Lonely Heart; I amsure I will have missed some.
The first thing that I must say is that Jon’s voice is amazing; still as strong as it always was, and that he had no problems at all in reaching any of the notes. The arrangements of the Yes songs took some getting used to for me. I missed hearing a band; but having said that it was still great to hear those wonderful songs sung by Jon again.