Jon Anderson

Stamford Bridge, London

10 August 2013

I got to Stamford Bridge for Saturday night's Jon Anderson concert just in time for the doors opening so I could bag a prime spot five feet from the stage. (Note: the concert was in a small function room within the stadium complex; Jon's audiences don't actually fill football stadiums these days!)

Jon Anderson was perfect. Despite his recent health problems, his voice sounded as strong as ever and he played a two-hour show that included everything—I mean, everything. I think the entire Yes back-catalogue! Well, all the important parts, anyway. When you strip out the guitar solos, drum solos, and keyboard solos from 30-minute-long Yes songs, you can fit a surprising number of them in a concert! Add in a few of his solo numbers, a bit of Jon & Vangelis, and a couple of Beatles covers, and it made for an evening of one favourite song after another. All sounding so beautiful in stripped-down arrangements, reminding you what beautiful melodies Jon wrote under all the Yes bombast.

Jon was the only person on the stage, and he accompanied himself on guitar, and occasionally on piano, ukulele, and dulcimer. To be honest, he's not a great instrumentalist. His guitar playing is basic strumming with some decidedly ropey chord changes. But we're not there to hear guitar playing; the strumming is purely there to give a rhythm for him to sing over, and it's the singing that matters. He still has the most beautiful voice on the planet. He's also a funny guy and between songs (sometimes in the middle of songs when he suddenly remembers something) he regales us with anecdotes from his years on the road.

Two years ago I saw Yes with a new singer, Benoit David. The new guy had an impressive voice, uncannily similar to Jon's in pitch. And the band played as well as ever, of course. But something in the show was missing. I appreciated the musicianship and the songs on a technical level, but Yes with Benoit David didn't move me emotionally the way Yes have done in the past.

At Jon's concert, I was in tears as soon as the first song started. I can't explain why. Some things just have that affect, and Jon Anderson's voice is one of them.

Best concert I have ever seen.

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