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Jon Anderson Live at the Napa Valley Opera House,

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Progosopher View Drop Down
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    Posted: June 20 2012 at 22:54

           “Everywhere I go, all over the world, people sing this song.  I hear it in Brazil, Argentina, Japan.  They don’t know what the words mean, but they sing it.  I don’t know what the words mean, either.”  Everybody laughs.  He plays Your Move/All Good People.

            Jon Anderson is a consummate performer.  He was perfectly at ease in front an audience, which is only to be expected, but not all artists of his renown are like that.  When he talked, he was authentic and direct.  He has a great spirit which is a joy to experience, and he put a lot of humor into his performance.  The audience was highly appreciative, even to the point of giving him a standing ovation just for coming on stage and after every song.  Part of this may have had to do with the fact that this was in Napa, the very heart of California wine country, where half the people are half-baked, a good number are fully baked, and a noticeable few are clearly overdone.  Jon played guitar, a little electric piano, and an instrument he described as being based on a Chinese stringed instrument.  It looked a lot like a Turkish sasz to me, and sounded very similar.  He told a lot of stories about “the band,” and about meeting some individuals in the early years like Joe Cocker and Robert Plant, before all became stars.

            Most of the set were Yes songs, but there was a healthy peppering of solo material.  The biggest surprise and highlight of the show for me were the two songs he played from Olias of Sunhillow on the sazs-like thing.  The reggaefied version of Time and a Word was also great.  In fact, he said he wrote it in Jamaica as a reggae song, but the band would not play it that way.  Another interesting take was Heart of the Sunrise on the electric piano.  He also played two Jon and Vangelis songs (each with accompanying humorous anecdotes), namely Find My Way Home and State of Independence.  I actually like his solo acoustic guitar version of the former better than the studio recording.  Other notable selections included Starship Trooper with a scatted version of Wurm, Turn of the Century, Sacred Ground, and The Revealing Science of God.  Notable in that I did not expect to hear any version of these songs.  As you may imagine, they were shortened a great deal, so much so in fact, that after listening to the full-blown Yes versions for years they sounded incomplete, cut off.  Indeed, some of them ended rather abruptly.  This is one of two complaints I have about the show.  The other is that he seemed to have trouble finding some of the chords on the guitar and piano, and no, he was not playing as Howe would play them.  Still, he kept the flow of the music going.  Most of the classic Yes material does not work well in this context, and hearing these concatenated versions gave me a greater appreciation for their sophistication and complexity in their complete form.   I cannot say much about the solo material he sang since most of it was unfamiliar to me.  They were all quite pretty, however.

            One of the recurring story themes he brought out was his surgery, and how he feels a strong urge to sing.  I mean a stronger urge than he ever had before.  With the possibility of losing his singing voice, or having it drastically change, not to mention losing his life, he has emerged even more committed to making music than ever before.  This seems to be the real reason he is no longer in Yes – he feels compelled to pursue his own vision for his music.  He is in a good place with that.  I think we will see a lot more of him, both in the studio and on stage.

            I am very glad to have gone to see him live, but I would not want a live recording of this.  The Yes material was just too minimal for me (I had the opportunity to buy The Mother’s Day Concert CD, also recorded in California, but did not like the samples I heard).  The last time I saw him was the last time I saw Yes, during the Open Your Eyes tour.  It was a good performance, but there is something very different about Jon on stage now and it is for the better.  I recommend seeing him because of the spirit and good nature he brings to a performance, but do not expect anything like a Yes show.  This is not Yes.  This is Jon Anderson, and he is wondrous if limited.

The world of sound is certainly capable of infinite variety and, were our sense developed, of infinite extensions. -- George Santayana, "The Sense of Beauty"
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote cstack3 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: June 21 2012 at 00:26
Thank you for the very comprehensive review!  

I had the chance to see Jon perform in Illinois in 2011, and the (shaky) video I shot of "Flight of the Moorglade" from Olias of Sunhillow is attached. 

The "sasz" like instrument you saw is called a "Strum Stick," it is a very simple little thing that is basically a dulcimer that you can wear around your neck.  I need to buy one sometime, it has an impressive sound and is so simple to play that you can hardly sound bad playing one, or so they say!  

The manufacturer is http://www.strumstick.com/   

Whenever I see Jon, I am filled with joy and love for the man!  He clearly has hurt feelings due to his treatment from Yes, and I rather doubt there will be a reunion in the future.  However, he radiated love for his audience and gave us many personal stories of his youth and early years as a musician. 

Please enjoy this video, and thanks! 


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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Ancient Tree Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: June 21 2012 at 13:09
nice review,thanks!

cstack3 thanks for the video 
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote cstack3 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: June 21 2012 at 18:31
Originally posted by Ancient Tree Ancient Tree wrote:

nice review,thanks!

cstack3 thanks for the video 

I agree, very comprehensive review by our friend! 

And, you are most welcome for the video!  That particular song was the highlight of the show for me, although watching Jon play "Revealing Science of God" on a Kurzweil keyboard was a trip as well!  

I didn't expect a Yes show & was very happy to have attended, I highly recommend Jon's shows to any Yes devotees! 
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Progosopher Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: July 01 2012 at 16:33
Glad you both liked the review.  I jotted some notes the next day, and am surprised how much I remembered (not that I was in any of the baked categories).
 
Cool video CStack!  The Olias material were the highlights of the show for me since I was there for a JA concert and not a Yes concert and that album has always been one of my favorites ever.  Not that I am complaining about the Yes material.  Thanks for the info on the Strum Stick.  My first thought when I saw it was that it was one of those travel guitars, but then I saw how small it really was.  Having recently taken up ukelele, I have a new appreciation for simple instruments.
The world of sound is certainly capable of infinite variety and, were our sense developed, of infinite extensions. -- George Santayana, "The Sense of Beauty"
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote humor4u1959 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: April 21 2013 at 23:43
As high as Jon's voice is, nothing lasts forever. I viewed a clip of him on You Tube singing 'Close To The Edge' from 2009. Then, a keyboardist pal of mine said, "The whole song is a whole step lower!" So, even Anderson has had to lower keys to accommodate his aging voice. It happens to most. He still sounds great though, from what I've heard of him on the web.

In his prime, he literally was an alto and often hit notes in the soprano range! That's amazing for a guy. I think he did the right thing by leaving Yes. Thanks for a nice review.
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