Regular readers to this little site of ours will realise by now that it has acquired a distinctly 'Ultravox-y' and 80's feel to it, courtesy of my esteemed colleague, Tony Gallichan. There is nothing wrong with that but by way of showing our appreciation of good music as a whole, I have written this review of a concert I recently attended up in London.
As it was a rather hot and humid day in the capital, I availed myself of a couple of cold beers in the Shakespeare public house opposite Victoria railway station while I waited for my friend, Sean, to turn up so we could make our way over to Hammersmith in the West of London for what would turn out to be a memorable experience. To our mutual dismay, he had mislaid the original tickets he had purchased and had to order new tickets at the box-office. However, providence was smiling on us that evening as the new tickets turned out to be in the front row and so it was a full sensory experience as opposed to being stuck up in the circle and being less 'connected' with the concert as a whole.
For those amongst you who have never heard of Yes or only have a passing familiarity with their music, allow me to explain. Back in the early 1970's, Yes were the one of the founding fathers of what is called 'Progressive Rock', or as the angry young men of the Punk movement used to call them: 'Pomp rock' or 'boring old farts'. Their music is very highly structured and almost orchestral in arrangement and was highly appreciated in the marijuana-fuelled days of the 1970's.
After releasing highly acclaimed albums such as 'Close To The Edge'; 'Fragile'; 'Relayer' and several others, the band took a sabbatical for a few years until they re-appeared in 1983 with the album; '90125' and the immensely successful single;'Owner Of A Lonely Heart'
Since then, Yes have enjoyed a continuing renaissance culminating in their latest studio offering: 'Magnification'. Despite many line-up changes over the years, Yes have settled into what many fans would call their ultimate line-up, namely Jon Anderson on vocals, Steve Howe on guitars, Chris Squire on bass guitar, Rick Wakeman on keyboards and Alan White on drums and percussion.
As we settled in our seats, I had a frission of excitement. I have seen Yes in concert several times but this was the first time I had been so close to the stage and been so involved in a concert.
The light dimmed and an almighty roar arose from the audience as the band launched into a perennial favourite; 'Siberian Khatru' from the album 'Close to the edge' closely followed by offerings from their latest album 'Magnification'. A slight shifting-down in tempo followed as Steve Howe made his way to the front of the stage to play some acoustic guitar for the eager audience. Just to show that all musicians are not demi-gods, he stumbled slightly on a cable that was lying across the front of the stage. An embarrassed smile and a shrug of the shoulders later, he settled down on the stool provided and showed us all why he is one of the greatest rock guitarists of the last 30 years. His acoustic style spans over very wide and diverse ranges from flamenco to blue-grass and he did not waste an opportunity to demonstrate all of these styles culminating in a welcome rendition of a favourite of his: 'The Clap' A very light-hearted acoustic number that he first recorded on 'The Yes Album' This was followed by an unexpected favourite:'We Have Heaven'. A song penned and arranged by Jon Anderson;a song comprised of multi-tracked vocals rendered a capella style and including acoustic guitar and minimal drumming by way of accompaniment. This was the first time I have heard this song in a live environment and I was very pleasantly surprised. Another favourite from the 'Fragile' album followed:'South Side Of The Sky' is a song that ostensibly deals with the subject of mountain climbing but is also us
On behalf of my son Henrik Christopher (18) and myself, a big thank you to Yes for two magnific evenings. My son turned 18 earlier this month and a concert-ticket for a Yes-show was what he wanted.
Being a fan for 30 years, I had the time of my (musical) life! Well worth a trip from Norway! We saw them in Oslo in 2001 during their Symphonic tour and it is so impressive that these guys still perform with such enthusiasm.
There were a couple of things that amused me about last nights show,the first is that Steve Howe looks like a woodwork teacher i used to have at school 20 years ago!,the second is that JA should get rid of that bloody beard,he looks a right twat!
Right onto the music,this was the first time i had seen the "classic" lineup and i really enjoyed the gig,Jon was on fine form,Steve reeled off some fantastic solos,Chris is just Chris really!,consumate performer! Rick was and always will be a genius! But the star of the show for me was Alan who kept the beat going alnight!
So over all a fantastic gig! Shame the Hyde Park gig got canned,they would've been raelly good in the open air,on a nice summers night.............
Back for a second night at Hammersmith. And again, another excellent show.
Steve was again on good form, reeling off a superb solo in the closing minutes of Siberian Khatru, and then later going wildly over the top at the close of South Side Of The Sky - so much so that he fouled up the ending and got a mouthed admonishment from Jon! Steve was very high in the mix, which for me was not a problem, but as a consequence Rick was somewhat inaudible, even during his solo spots.
Again, the highlight was the rendition of Awaken, which took off for somewhere quite special from the "Master of images" section to the close. A great tune, and a superb rendition.
Only two encores - despite the roars of the crowd!
Jon danced with Jane for the encores, and spent most of Heart Of The Sunrise mimicking her hand movements!
It is great to see the Classic lineup back together, and Rick is quite right when he says that the sum of the five of them adds up to so much more. His return has given them focus and energy which I had not really appreciated was missing before. Long may they stay together.