Thursday 21 October 2010

Yes, Prog Rock Lives!

Monday 11th October 2010: Jane and I went along to see Rick Wakeman and Jon Anderson in concert at The Hawth in Crawley and spent an entertaining evening listening to songs from the back catalogue of Yes interspersed with some new material from the duo's latest album. It was like a Yes concert but without all the pomp, bloated, self indulgent nonsense that prog rock sometimes offers.

The arrival on stage was somewhat reminicent of Simon & Garfunkel because Rick Wakeman towers above Jon Anderson in the height stakes. Jon Anderson's was in good voice throughout and Rick Wakeman showed just how easy he can make it look to play a keyboard. The complicated, intricate and delicate sounds that came from his keyboards was simply astounding, knowing when to play it gently and when to really let go. The new material was typically Jon Anderson, it all had a rather American laid back hippie feel to it. It was spiritually and lyrically very deep and meaningful but if I'm honest it was also a bit too deep and meaningful at times. What the audience really wanted to hear of course were the Yes songs, and they didn't let us down. We heard all the classics from such albums as The Yes Album, Close To The Edge, Fragile, Relayer and Going For The One. There was the likes of 'Yours Is No Disgrace', 'Wonderous Stories', 'Roundabout', I've Seen All Good People', 'Starship Trooper', 'And You And I',  'Soon' and 'Owner Of A Lonely Heart'. All sounded terrific in a stripped back acoustic environment with just keyboards and guitar.

The music was interspersed with many humorous stories of touring on the road with Yes and making music over the last four decades. Rick Wakeman excelled in his on stage chat, very relaxed and at times hilarious. It was an enjoyable evening and a rare chance to get to hear some music from a band that are sometimes slagged off because of their overblown prog rock image. The arrival of punk in 1977 all but killed off the genre but on hearing it once again I felt that it wasn't all bad, indeed a lot of it was very good, although perhaps still a little bit self indulgent at times. If you take the time to revisit and listen to The Yes Album once again you will hear some excellent music played by a band of good musicians with a unique lead vocalist who defined the early to mid seventies music scene. Prog rock may not be cool today but that doesn't mean to say it didn't have a value.

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