Jon Anderson Manchester Royal Exchange Theatre August 4th 2013

Jon Anderson Manchester Royal Exchange Theatre August 4th 2013
A special solo performance with the frontman of YES – Jon Anderson
jonandersontix 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.

4 responses to this post.

  1. Looking forward to your review!


  2. […] For the full review, please visit the Vintagerock website! […]


  3. Great review! Jon Anderson seems to be a very warm and beautiful person. I’m glad he’s doing well and that it was a lovely, special evening. Thanks for posting this.


  4. Posted by dawn on August 19, 2013 at 10:18 pm

    Saw Anderson Bruford Wakeman Howe in Edinburgh for an evening of Yes music they played local at Whitley Bay but did not go cannot remember the reason why, Still got the t shirt.


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