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My Life in Concerts: the Complete List

Over the course of the last 23 plus years, I have enjoyed the opportunity to go and see many bands in a live setting.  As my readers know, I have seen Yes by far the most, but, contrary to popular belief, Yes (and their openers) is/are not the only band(s) I have ever seen live.

After so many years and shows, I thought it would be fun to try and list and catalogue all the shows I have seen.  I think the list below is about as comprehensive as I can create, and it does not, obviously, include live bands in bars and community festivals and such.

I have also, over the course of this blog, put up numerous posts of tour programs, tickets, reviews, and other things I have collected over the years at concerts.  Here they are below:

Here is, what I think, is my complete list of concerts (227):

Yes (24):

Porcupine Tree (8):

  • 6/23/01: NEARFest 2001
  • 7/26/02: Theater of the Living Arts (with Tim Reynolds)
  • 11/8/02: Tower Theater (with Yes)
  • 7/20/03: Trocadero Theater (with Opeth)
  • 5/21/05: Trocadero Theater (with Tunnels)
  • 9/27/05: Keswick Theater (with Robert Fripp)
  • 10/7/06: Keswick Theater (with ProjeKCt Six)
  • 9/26/09: Electric Factory (with King’s X)

The Musical Box (7):

  • 2/26/04: Keswick Theater
  • 7/9/04: NEARFest 2004
  • 12/17/04: Keswick Theater
  • 12/10/05: Tower Theater
  • 10/20/06: Tower Theater
  • 12/15/07: Tower Theater
  • 8/3/13: Camden Tweeter Center (with Yestival)

Renaissance (3):

  • 10/11/09: Keswick Theater
  • 6/23/12: NEARFest 2012
  • 8/3/13: Camden Tweeter Center (with Yestival)

Philadelphia Orchestra (3):

  • 4/5/05: Verizon Hall
  • 9/24/05: Verizon Hall
  • Another date: Mann Music Center

Änglagård (2):

  • 6/29/03 NEARFest 2003
  • 6/23/12 NEARFest 2012

Asia (2):

Banco del Mutuo Soccorso (2):

Bela Fleck and the Flecktones (2):

  • 8/1/96: Keswick Theater
  • 8/5/08: Mann Music Center (with Return to Forever)

DFA (2):

  • 6/17/00: NEARFest 2001
  • 6/20/09: NEARFest 2009

Echolyn (2):

  • 6/29/02: NEARFest 2002
  • 6/22/08: NEARFest 2008

Steve Hackett (2):

King Crimson (2):

Magma (2):

Mike Keneally Band (2):

  • 7/10/04: NEARFest 2004
  • 6/24/12: NEARFest 2012

PFM (2):

Riverside (2):

Tunnels (2):

  •  6/28/03: NEARFest 2003
  • 5/21/05: Trocadero Theater (with Porcupine Tree)

Van Der Graaf Generator (2):

  • 6/19/09: NEARFest 2009
  • 6/22/12: NEARFest 2012

Carl Palmer ELP Legacy Band (2):

  • 8/3/13 Camden Tweeter Center (with Yestival)
  • 8/15/17: Hershey Theater – Yestival Tour

Other (152):

  • Acoustic Trio (Stanley Clarke, Bela Fleck, Jean Luc Ponty): 8/12/05 Mann Music Center
  • After Crying: 6/24/01 NEARFest 2001
  • Alamaailman Vasarat: 6/28/03 NEARFest 2003
  • Alan Parsons Project: 6/27/98 Camden Blockbuster Center (with Yes)
  • Anderson/Ponty: 10/27/15 Keswick Theater
  • Anekdoten: 6/17/00 NEARFest 2000
  • Ange: 6/25/06 NEARFest 2006
  • Aranis: 6/22/12 NEARFest 2012
  • Astra: 6/19/10 NEARFest 2010
  • Beardfish: 6/21/09 NEARFest 2009
  • Bird Songs of the Mesozoic: 6/23/01 NEARFest 2001
  • The Black Eyed Peas (with Rita Marley and Stephen Marley): 7/2/05 Live 8
  • Bon Jovi: 7/2/05 Live 8
  • Cabezas de Cera: 6/20/09 NEARFest 2009
  • California Guitar Trio with Tony Levin: 6/24/01 NEARFest 2001
  • Camel: 6/29/03 NEARFest 2003
  • Canned Heat: 1/21/05 Keswick Theater (with Mountain and Vanilla Fudge)
  • Caravan: 6/30/02 NEARFest 2002
  • Dave Matthews Band: 7/2/05 Live 8
  • Def Leppard: 7/2/05 Live 8
  • Destiny’s Child: 7/2/05 Live 8
  • Deus Ex Machina: 6/23/01 NEARFest 2001
  • Discipline: 6/21/08 NEARFest 2008
  • Dixie Dregs: 4/7/05 Theater of the Living Arts (with Steve Morse Band)
  • Djam Karet: 6/24/10: NEARFest 2001
  • DJ Green Lantern: 7/2/05 Live 8
  • DJ Jazzy Jeff (with Will Smith): 7/2/05 Live 8
  • Bob Drake: 6/23/07: NEARFest 2007
  • Dream Theater: 9/3/04 Allentown Fairgrounds (with Yes)
  • KBB: 6/24/06 NEARFest 2006
  • Keith Emerson: 6/25/06 NEARFest 2006
  • Enchant: 6/30/02 NEARFest 2002
  • The Enid: 6/20/10 NEARFest 2010
  • Fish: 6/20/08 NEARFest 2008
  • The Flower Kings: 6/28/03 NEARFest 2003
  • FM: 6/24/06 NEARFest 2006
  • Forgas Band Phenomena: 6/19/10 NEARFest 2010
  • Peter Frampton: 6/15/10 Tower Theater (with Yes)
  • Robert Fripp: 9/27/05 Keswick Theater (with Porcupine Tree)
  • Frogg Cafe: 7/9/05 NEARFest 2005
  • Gerard: 6/30/02 NEARFest 2002
  • Glass Hammer: 6/29/03 NEARFest 2003
  • Gong: 6/20/09 NEARFest 2009
  • Gosta Berlings Saga: 6/24/12 NEARFest 2012
  • Josh Groban (with Sarah McLachlan): 7/2/05 Live 8
  • Guapo: 6/25/06 NEARFest 2006
  • Peter Hammil: 6/21/08 NEARFest 2008
  • Happy the Man: 6/17/00 NEARFest 2000
  • Hatfield and the North: 6/23/06 NEARFest 2006
  • Hawkwind: 6/23/07: NEARFest 2007
  • Helmet of Gnats: 6/23/12 NEARFest 2012
  • Hidria Spacefolk: 7/11/04 NEARFest 2004
  • High Wheel: 6/28/03 NEARFest 2003
  • Steve Hillage: 6/19/09 NEARFest 2009
  • Allan Holdsworth: 6/22/07: NEARFest 2007
  • Iluvatar: 6/17/00 NEARFest 2000
  • Il Balletto di Bronzo: 6/18/00 NEARFest 2000
  • Il Tempio delle Clessidre: 6/24/12 NEARFest 2012
  • Indukti: 6/24/07: NEARFest 2007
  • Iona: 6/19/10 NEARFest 2010
  • IQ: 7/9/05 NEARFest 2005
  • IZZ: 6/23/07: NEARFest 2007
  • Isildur’s Bane: 6/29/02 NEARFest 2002
  • Jars of Clay: 7/2/05 Live 8
  • Jay-Z (with Linkin Park): 7/2/05 Live 8
  • Jethro Tull: 8/9/03 MusikFest
  • Eddie Jobson / UKZ: 6/20/10: NEARFest 2010
  • Richard Leo Johnson: 6/24/06 NEARFest 2006
  • Kaiser Chiefs: 7/2/05 Live 8
  • Kansas: 7/18/00 Camden Blockbuster Center (with Yes)
  • Toby Keith: 7/2/05 Live 8
  • Kenso: 7/10/05 NEARFest 2005
  • Alicia Keys: 7/2/05 Live 8
  • King’s X: 9/26/09 Electric Factory (with Porcupine Tree)
  • Knight Area: 7/10/05 NEARFest 2005
  • Koenji Hyakkei: 6/21/08 NEARFest 2008
  • Kraan: 6/29/03 NEARFest 2003
  • La Maschera di Cera: 6/24/04: NEARFest 2007
  • La Torre dell’Alchimista: 6/29/02 NEARFest 2002
  • Le Orme: 7/10/05 NEARFest 2005
  • Linkin Park (with Jay-Z): 7/2/05 Live 8
  • Liquid Tension Experiment: 6/21/08 NEARFest 2008
  • Magenta: 6/23/07: NEARFest 2007
  • Sean Malone: 7/11/04 NEARFest 2004
  • Michael Manring: 6/25/06 NEARFest 2006
  • Rita Marley and Stephen Marley (with The Black Eyed Peas ): 7/2/05 Live 8
  • Maroon 5: 7/2/05 Live 8
  • Sarah McLachlan  (with Josh Groban): 7/2/05 Live 8
  • Metamorfosi: 7/11/04 NEARFest 2004
  • Miriodor: 6/29/02 NEARFest 2002
  • Moraine: 6/20/10 NEARFest 2010
  • Morglbl: 6/22/08 NEARFest 2008
  • Mountain: 1/21/05 Keswick Theater (with Canned Heat and Vanilla Fudge)
  • The Muffins: 7/10/05 NEARFest 2005
  • NeBeLNeST: 6/23/07: NEARFest 2007
  • Nektar: 6/29/02 NEARFest 2002
  • Nexus: 6/18/00 NEARFest 2000
  • Niacin: 6/25/06 NEARFest 2006
  • Nicholas Payton Quintet: 10/19/97 Central PA Friends of Jazz
  • North Star: 6/18/00 NEARFest 2000
  • Oblivion Sun: 6/20/09 NEARFest 2009
  • One Shot: 6/22/07: NEARFest 2007
  • Opeth: 7/20/03: Trocadero Theater (with Porcupine Tree)
  • Ozric Tentacles: 6/24/06 NEARFest 2006
  • Pallas: 7/10/04 NEARFest 2004
  • Par Lindh Project: 6/18/00 NEARFest 2000
  • Matthew Parmenter: 7/10/05 NEARFest 2005
  • The Pineapple Thief: 6/20/10 NEARFest 2010
  • Richard Pinhas: 7/10/04 NEARFest 2004
  • Planet X: 7/11/04 NEARFest 2004
  • Present: 7/9/05 NEARFest 2005
  • Procol Harum: 7/20/12 Tower Theater (with Yes)
  • ProjeKCt Six: 10/7/06 Keswick Theater (with Porcupine Tree)
  • Proto-Kaw: 7/8/05: NEARFest 2005
  • Pure Reason Revolution: 6/24/04: NEARFest 2007
  • Quantum Fantasy: 6/21/09 NEARFest 2009
  • Radio Massacre International: 6/22/08 NEARFest 2008
  • Return to Forever: 8/5/08 Mann Music Center (with Bela Fleck and the Flecktones)
  • Tim Reynolds: 7/26/02: Theater of the Living Arts (with Porcupine Tree)
  • Robert Rich: 6/24/04: NEARFest 2007
  • Steve Roach: 7/9/05 NEARFest 2005
  • Todd Rundgren: 8/15/17: Hershey Theater – Yestival Tour
  • Scale the Summit: 8/3/13 Camden Tweeter Center (with Yestival)
  • The School of Rock: 8/3/13 Camden Tweeter Center (with Yestival)
  • Second Sufis: NEARFest 2003
  • Secret Oyster: 6/22/07: NEARFest 2007
  • Sleepytime Gorilla Museum: 629/03 NEARFest 2003
  • Will Smith (with DJ Jazzy Jeff): 7/2/05 Live 8
  • Spaced Out: 6/30/02 NEARFest 2002
  • Steve Morse Band: 4/7/05 Theater of the Living Arts (with Dixie Dregs)
  • Strawbs: 7/11/04 NEARFest 2004
  • Styx: 7/4/11 Camden Tweeter Center (with Yes)
  • Syd Arthur: 7/19/14 Upper Darby Tower Theater (with Yes)
  • Synergy (Larry Fast): 6/20/08 NEARFest 2008
  • Thinking Plague: 6/18/00 NEARFest 2000
  • Three Friends: 6/19/10 NEARFest 2010
  • The Tony Levin Band: 6/23/06 NEARFest 2006
  • Toto: 8/9/15: Borgata, Atlantic City (with Yes)
  • Transatlantic: 6/18/00 NEARFest 2001
  • Trettioariga Kriget: 6/21/09 NEARFest
  • Twelfth Night: 6/23/12 NEARFest 2012
  • U.K.: 6/24/12 NEARFest 2012
  • The Underground Railroad: 6/24/01 NEARFest 2001
  • Under the Sun: 6/24/01 NEARFest 2001
  • Univers Zero: 7/10/04 NEARFest 2004
  • Vanilla Fudge: 1/21/05 Keswick Theater (with Mountain and Canned Heat)
  • Volto!: 8/3/13 Camden Tweeter Center (with Yestival)
  • Rick Wakeman: 10/29/03 Electric Factory
  • Kanye West: 7/2/05 Live 8
  • White Willow: 6/23/01 NEARFest 2001
  • Wobbler: 7/9/05 NEARFest 2005
  • Yezda Urfa: 7/10/04 NEARFest

Porcupine Tree Tickets Through the Years

I am a huge fan of and of progressive rock and, aside from seeing Yes (see here) and going to the North East Art Rock Festival (see here), the band that I have seen the most is Porcupine Tree.  I became aware of Porcupine Tree in the mid-90s, and enjoyed them, but my first time seeing them live was at NEARFest 2001 (see here) and was blown away by their artistry and power (they broke the ceiling lights!).  In addition to NEARFest 2001 and the shows below, I also saw them open for Yes (see here), which was a tremendous show and very exciting to me, even though the confluence of those two bands was a little dissonant (Yes being positive and happy whilst Porcupine Tree being depressing and aggressive).  Porcupine Tree presents an interesting combination of Pink Floyd, Tool, and Radiohead; music with a modern psychedelic feel and electronic flair played on heavy metal sounding guitars, led by a charismatic front man, Steven Wilson, who performs shoeless and completely enveloped in the art he is trying to create on stage.  So, after many years of seeing them, I thought it would be fun to post my old tickets from those shows.  They are posted below.  Enjoy!

 

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NEARFest X (2008) Event Program

This post is in my series regarding the North East Art Rock Festival (NEARFest).  You can find all of my posts regarding NEARFest here and I started the series here.

At each NEARFest, the Festival organizers created a weekend event program.  I was lucky enough to have purchased one from all of the Festivals I attended, and I will post photographs of them all here.  These programs were expertly crafted with many beautiful photographs and well written descriptions and histories and such.  Of course, they also contain their fair share of ads, as one may expect.  I got most (maybe all) of the programs I purchased at NEARFest over the years autographed by the artist who drew its cover and, in this case, that was Yes and Asia cover artist Roger Dean.

I was able to purchase a program at NEARFest X (2008), and I thought it would be fun to post it here for prog rock fans who may not have had the opportunity to go to the Festival and/or purchase the program.  Accordingly, I took photographs of each page of the program and posted them below.

I also posted a review of NEARFest X (2008) which you can see here.  The review contains many photographs from the event.

Enjoy!

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Program From October 7, 2006 Porcupine Tree Concert

This post is part of my series of posts on progressive rock which you can see here.

On October 7, 2006 I saw the progressive rock band Porcupine Tree during their tour in support of the Deadwing album at the Keswick Theater in Glenside, PAProjeKCt Six (the Robert Fripp (on electric guitar) and Adrian Belew (on electronic drums) King Crimson duo) opened the show.

The Keswick Theater often produces and distributes an event program at its shows, whether that show is a rock concert, ballet, or comedian or what-have-you, and the October 7, 2006 Porcupine Tree concert was no different.  I have taken photographs of that program and posted them below as fans may enjoy and be interested in what the band authorized for its show.

Enjoy!

 

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Return to Forever / Bela Fleck and the Flecktones Concert Program for August 5, 2008

This post is part of my series of posts on progressive rock which you can see here.

On August 5, 2008 I saw the progressive rock / fusion supergroup Return to Forever during their 2008 reunion tour at the Mann Center for the Performing Arts in Philadelphia, PABela Fleck and the Flecktones opened for Return to Forever.

The Mann Center often produces and distributes an event program at its shows, whether that show is a rock concert, ballet, or comedian or what-have-you, and the August 5, 2008 RTF/BFF concert was no different.  I have taken photographs of that program and posted them below as fans may enjoy and be interested in what the bands authorized for the show.

Enjoy!

 

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Program from 9/12/14 King Crimson Concert

This post is part of my series of posts on progressive rock which you can see here.

On September 12, 2014 I saw the progressive rock band King Crimson during their 2014 tour at the Kimmel Center in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania which featured a huge seven piece band with three drummers, two guitarists, a bass player, and a woodwind player.  I reviewed this concert, and that review, along with some pictures of the show, can be seen here.  It was easily one of the greatest concerts I have ever seen.

The Kimmel Center often produces and distributes an event program at its shows, and the September 12, 2014 King Crimson concert was no different.  I have taken photographs of that program and posted them below as fans may enjoy and be interested in what the band authorized for its show.

Enjoy!

 

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Program From September 13, 2006 Asia Concert

This post is part of my series of posts on progressive rock which you can see here.

On September 13, 2006 I saw the progressive rock supergroup Asia during their 2006 reunion tour at the Keswick Theater in Glenside, PA.  I reviewed this concert, and that review, along with some pictures of the show, can be seen here.

The Keswick Theater often produces and distributes an event program at its shows, whether that show is a rock concert, ballet, or comedian or what-have-you, and the September 13, 2006 Asia concert was no different.  I have taken photographs of that program and posted them below as fans may enjoy and be interested in what the band authorized for its show.

Enjoy!

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Anderson-Ponty Band Concert Review, 10/27/15 Glenside, PA

This post is part of my series of posts on progressive rock, which you can see here, and Yes which you can see here.

On October 27, 2015 the supergroup Anderson-Ponty Band (APB), led by Jon Anderson, the vocalist/harpist/guitarist co-founder of the progressive rock band Yes‘ and virtuoso progressive rock (and classic fusion bands and Zappa alumnus) violinist Jean-Luc Ponty, played show at the at the Keswick Theater in Glenside, PA in support of their “Better Late Than Never Tour” in support of their new album of the same name (see here).

The band was:

  • Jon Anderson – lead vocals, mandolin, guitars, percussion
  • Jean-Luc Ponty – violin
  • Jamie Glaser – guitars
  • Wally Minko – keyboards
  • Baron Browne – bass
  • Rayford Griffin – drums & percussion

The set list for the evening:

  • Intro (a new piece which is sort of like an overture for the APB album)
  • One in the Rhythm of Hope  (a reworked Ponty piece (see here))
  • A for Aria (a new piece)
  • Owner of a Lonely Heart  (a reworked Yes song (see here))
  • Listening with Me (a reworked Ponty piece called “Stay With Me” (see here))
  • Time and a Word (a reworked Yes song (see here))
  • One Love/People Get Ready (a Bob Marley cover (see here))
  • Infinite Mirage (a reworked Ponty piece (see here))
  • Soul Eternal  (a reworked Anderson piece (see here))
  • Enigmatic Ocean Parts 1 and 2 (a reworked Ponty piece (see here))
  • Drum solo
  • I See you Messenger  (a new piece)
  • New New World (a reworked Anderson piece (see here))
  • INTERMISSION
  • New Country (a reworked Ponty piece (see here))
  • Never Ever (a reworked Anderson song (see here and here))
  • Wonderous Stories (a reworked Yes song (see here))
  • Long Distance Runaround (a reworked Yes song (see here))
  • Renaissance of the Sun (a reworked Ponty piece (see here))
  • State of Independence (a reworked Jon & Vangelis song (see here))
  • Jig (a reworked Ponty piece (see here))
  • And You and I (a reworked Yes song (see here))
  • Roundabout (a reworked Yes song (see here))
  • Re-Remembering the Molecules (a reworked Ponty piece (see here)) – which included bits of Yours Is No Disgrace (a reworked Yes song (see here))
  • Soon (a reworked Yes song (see here))

Thoughts:

As I said when I reviewed the ABP album (see here), I am not going to comment on the songs themselves as nearly all of them are classic songs from legendary prog-rock albums and do not originate with this band.  I am only going to comment on their presentation at the show.

This was my first time seeing Jon Anderson live since the last leg of Yes’ Thirty-Fifth Anniversary Tour on September 3, 2004 (see here).  Much of what I said about Jon Anderson on the ABP album holds true here (see here).  This is post-asthma attack Anderson (see here).  His voice is not as strident or as powerful as it was in days past.  In saying that, he, as a consummate professional, does not struggle to try and duplicate his old singing style.  Instead, his voice is more soulful and breathier (is that a word?) and he conforms the music to his new singing style.  His onstage persona is much different than how he used to present himself with Yes.  Obviously his Yes stage presentation evolved with the band and their music, yet now, with ABP in 2015, Anderson comes across like a wizened and beloved person who has so many years under his belt that he is completely confident on stage playing and singing directly to the die hard fans that have followed him for fifty years now as opposed to something of a new age spiritual hippie guru.  There is very little “persona” now for him.  He does not play with long flowing robes or quasi-monk overtones.  No, instead he comes across as a man who knows he is older, knows he has been around a long time, and knows the people hearing him are the ones who have been fans for decades.  He was loose and appreciative.  He played guitars and percussion and, instead of a harp (as on the album), he plucked at a mandolin here and there (practically inaudibly for me).  Ponty was just a cool guy with no frills playing his violin.  It is amazing that both of these men are in their 70s!

The rest of the band were mainly guys recruited by Ponty.  The drummer, who reminded me of Niacin’s Dennis Chambers (see here), was a powerful and loud drummer who unabashedly plays in the style of fusion.  Although he was an excellent drummer, his playing was a bit too much a lot of the time for the more mellow rest of the band.  The guitarist was very hard for me to hear from my vantage point in terms of the mix.  I was there to see Anderson and Ponty and he played well enough to keep the music going but did not distract away from the main attractions.  As a side note, he reminded me a lot of Jim Belushi in his looks and mannerisms.  The bass player looked like he stepped right out of a reggae concert.  His playing was clean and in the style of traditional jazz.  Like the guitarist, he played the music but did not distract from Anderson and Ponty.  Finally, the keyboardist is the biggest mystery.  His playing, when allowed to expand, was very jazzy, but I felt that he was not particularly creative in his arrangements and approach.  His best playing was his jazzy piano playing.  His keyboard-synthesizer playing was the weakest part of his playing.  In my review of APB’s album (see here), one of my criticisms was that it was far too twee.  After seeing them live, I have come to realize that one of the biggest culprits causing the twee sound is the keyboardist because his keyboard sound is so light, airy, and, honestly, cheesy.   This description may not be helpful to all readers, but his keyboard/synthesizer sound is more eighties than Rick Wakeman‘s was in the 80’s.

In terms of the sound mix, thankfully the violin and Anderson’s vocals were louder than everything except maybe for the pounding drums.  The keyboard was loudest after that followed by the bass, the guitar, and whatever Anderson tried to strum at a given moment.  The bass player and guitarist offered background vocals but they may as well have had their microphones switched off as they were nearly completely inaudible.

The songs on the album that were played at the show (and all of them were) all sounded basically like the album, which stands to reason as the album was a live recording.  The only differences I can remember is that the solos were sometimes a little longer), the bass player played the acoustic guitar intro to “Roundabout” on the bass (this intro was omitted on the album), and the band added the instrumental section of “Eclipse” to the end of its version of “And You And I” (also omitted from the album).  “Eclipse” was appended to the end this band’s version of “And You And I” (and lacked the steel guitar) and, I thought, was one of the most powerful, dramatic, and emotional portions of the show and it is regrettable that it was omitted from the album.

When it comes down to it, this show was really a tale of two concerts, with the line of demarcation being the intermission.  The first half was, more-or-less, in the style and sound of the APB album and my comments and criticisms about that portion of the show are basically the same as those I had for the album (see here).  Enigmatic Oceans, which was played during the first half of the show and does not appear on the album, prefigured what was to come in the second half.

The second half of the show moved away from the twee and song based approach of the first half and went headlong into a new-age-jazz-fusion direction that was extremely well performed and musically and sonically very interesting.  The keyboardist, notably, focused more on his piano than the keyboard during the second half which contributed significantly to the overall change in sound, tone, and form.  Moreover, the guitarist played acoustic guitar for several of the pieces.  So, between acoustic guitar, piano, violin, and voice, you had the makings of a very interesting sound in the new-age-jazz-fusion style.  One of the highlights for me was “Long Distance Runaround,” which really revealed the impact that arrangement can have on a song.  The original Yes song is a classic song with multiple, and fast moving, contrapuntal lines.  By contrast APB presented it without any of its traditional instrumental trademarks (e.g.: the walking bass, the bouncy piano, or the punctuated guitar).  Instead, APB turned it into a contemplative jazz piece which, if it were not for the vocal melody, I would never have guessed that it was “Long Distance Runaround.”  As an aside, it is this sort of cover of a song that I really like; why simply play someone else’s song when you can make it your own?  “State of Independence” was very powerful and quite a surprise that Anderson would try and mine that part of his career with APB.  That song is a classic that is often overlooked when thinking about Anderson and/or Yes because too many assume it is a Donna Summers song (see here).  This song, too, was a brilliant reworking.  The original (and even Summers’ version) had a terribly 80’s sound with the drum machine and synthesizer (which has an almost midi type sound) and cheesy 80’s saxophone lines.  APB transformed the song into a fast paced and powerful jazz rock song.  Fantastic.  The Ponty pieces were presented more in line with how he recorded them, which makes sense as the members of the band played with him before and they were, more-or-less, presented in the same style in which they were written.  Anderson composed and sang lyrics over some of his music.  The pieces featured long and mesmerizing instrumental sections led by the violin and it was here that the drummer’s talent really came to the fore.  The instrumental sections really showed off the musicianship and prowess of the band and their ability to tastefully, yet intensely, show off their chops while remaining musical and interesting.

The audience was really into the show the entire night.  At this point in their career, and considering the size of the venue (~1000 seats), the audience seemed to have a direct relationship with Anderson and Ponty while they were on stage that perhaps would not have been there when in their prime (when they still had an image protect and project) and/or in bigger arenas where the audience and musicians are too geographically remote.  So the band, particularly Anderson, interacted personally with members of the audience the entire evening.  Anderson’s birthday was two days before the show, so there were a lot of cries of “Happy Birthday!” throughout the show (to one of them Anderson responded with “Merry Christmas!”).  Before introducing “Infinite Mirage,” Anderson starting speaking of “infinity” in a typical Andersonian-spiritual sort of way and someone shouted “You’re getting heavy Jon!” and Anderson responded with “not yet it’s too early!”  He really seemed to have fun and truly appreciate and feel the love the audience had for him.

Over all it was an excellent show and great way for Yes fans to see Anderson in a band setting singing the classics.  As indicated above, the first half of the show was somewhat uninteresting and lightweight, but during the second half the band, and, indeed, its prog-rock potential, came through with some really great new-age-jazz-fusion arrangements and some furious playing.

Photographs:

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Anderson-Ponty Band, Better Late Than Never, a Review

In September 2014 progressive rock band Yes‘ co-founder and vocalist/harpist/guitarist Jon Anderson teamed up with virtuoso progressive rock (and classic fusion bands and Zappa alumnus) violinist Jean-Luc Ponty to form the supergroup Anderson-Ponty Band (APB) to play a live concert to be recorded for an album (CD/DVD) which was released in September 2015.  The set list they played consisted of mainly reworked Yes, Anderson, and Ponty pieces with a couple new tracks thrown in for good measure.  Apparently (see here) the actual set list was a little longer and included a few more pieces left off the album.  The live concert from September 2014, upon being recorded, was then modified and edited and overdubbed in the studio.

CD Track List:

1. “Intro”
2. “One in the Rhythm of Hope”  (a reworked Ponty piece)
3. “A for Aria”  (a new piece)
4. Owner of a Lonely Heart”  (a reworked Yes song)
5. “Listening with Me”  (a reworked Ponty piece called “Stay With Me”)
6. Time and a Word”  (a reworked Yes song)
7. “Infinite Mirage”  (a reworked Ponty piece)
8. “Soul Eternal”  (a reworked Anderson piece)
9. Wonderous Stories”  (a reworked Yes song)
10. And You and I”  (a reworked Yes song)
11. “Renaissance of the Sun”  (a reworked Ponty piece)
12. Roundabout”  (a reworked Yes song)
13. “I See you Messenger”  (a new piece)
14. “New New World”  (a reworked Anderson piece)

DVD Track List:

1. “One in the Rhythm of Hope”
2. “A for Aria”
3. “Owner of a Lonely Heart”
4. “Listening with Me”
5. “Time and a Word”
6. “Infinite Mirage”
7. “Soul Eternal”
9. “Renaissance of the Sun”
10. “Roundabout”

Personnel:

  • Jon Anderson – lead vocals, harp, guitars
  • Jean-Luc Ponty – violin
  • Jamie Glaser – guitars (Jamie Dunlap was part of the original line-up of APB and thus performed live on 20 September 2014 at the Wheeler Opera House, Aspen, Colorado, United States but by January 2015, he had left the band and had been replaced by Ponty’s guitarist Jamie Glaser who, as a result, overdubbed Dunlap’s parts on the present live album)
  • Wally Minko – keyboards
  • Baron Browne – bass
  • Rayford Griffin – drums & percussion

Review:

So, like most reviews, what one thinks of an album depends on what one expects from it.  If one expects a prog-rock tour de force, then one will be sorely disappointed.  Despite the pedigree of Anderson and Ponty and, indeed, the fusion background of the rest of the band, ABP does not live up to its potential.  Instead, the music is very light (even when it is heavy like during “Owner of a Lonely Heart), often twee, and and is more a fusion of new age and rock, with jazz sounding bass, than a fusion of jazz and Anderson.  Of course the underlying Yes, Anderson, and Ponty music is amazing and the stuff of prog rock legend, but I will try and keep this review just about the interpretation that APB has given them.

Anderson, I think, does most of the heavy lifting in the creation of this album as he wrote most of the music and pushed the kickstarter campaign (see below for more on that).  Excluding “Intro” (which is something of an overture written by Minko), 7 of the 13 remaining songs are from Anderson’s prior work and at least one of the new songs “I See You Messenger” is derived from Anderson’s stock of unreleased material.  Ponty’s solo compositions are instrumental and Anderson’s contribution to them are largely adding lyrics and melodies with which to sing those lyrics over Ponty’s music.  So, Anderson has a writing credit for every track on the album save “Intro.”  Aside from singing, he also strummed a guitar, plucked a harp, and a played very small stringed instrument which seems to be turned to a specific chord for him to strum (I do not know the name of this instrument).  Ponty is an excellent, virtuoso, and experimental violinist, and his playing throughout the album is technically top notch though not particularly inspired.  He more-or-less noodles over the Yes/Anderson material – though on occasion he plays something interesting – and, probably obviously, seems much more at home with his own material.

Of course, the music – especially the Yes material – is rearranged to fit a vaguely new-age-jazz sound which is often stripped down in its complexity compared to the originals, but and some of the interpretations are interesting.   In saying that, I really did not need yet another version of “Roundabout” and “Owner of a Lonely Heart.”  It is worth noting that “Time and a Word” is a reggae interpretation with some Beatles references thrown in here and there.  Although this version is fun, it is hardly original to APB as Anderson has been doing since at least 2008.  Various quotes from songs like “I’ve Seen All Good People” or “And You And I” or even “Don’t Kill the Whale” (in “I See You Messenger”) are sprinkled throughout.  As an aside, I really like the “Don’t Kill the Whale” quote and I think that song is catchy and the quote makes it doubly so.

As a huge Yes fan, I was most interested in Anderson.  It is very nostalgic for me to hear a new recording from this legendary singer who has made so much music that has such an impact on my life, especially since he nearly died not long ago (see here).  His range is still there.  His spirit is still there.  His emotion is still there.  Despite that, his strength is not nearly what it used to be.  The power of his voice is greatly diminished.  Though still ethereal, his voice is more “breathy” (for want of a better term) and less strident now.  I have to say that, despite this, Anderson, as always, seemed to be very aware that his voice is very unique and tries to use it uniquely if only for it’s sound and he does that here as well (e.g.: the vocal sounds on “One in the Rhythm of Hope”).  Lyrically, he is not really offering anything new.  There are various Yes song references (e.g.: lyrics like “Second Attention” or “That that is”) here and there and the remaining new lyrics fit Anderson’s long standing custom of writing about the sun, light, innocence, Earth, love, moon, and other sorts of “mystical” things.

As a brief editorial, considering Anderson’s diminished voice, stale lyrical ideas, and rather pedestrian musical ideas on this album, I do not think he would be an improvement over Jon Davison (Yes’ current singer) in Yes as Davison’s voice is stronger and his writing is much more creative and interesting right now.  Of course, none of that speaks to the nostalgia and love of/for having Anderson back in Yes and I, for one, would not oppose his return in the least, nor does it in any way diminish Anderson’s influence, creativity, and impact on Yes and prog rock in general.

This collaboration started its life as Kickstarter campaign (see here) and took over a year to prepare, perform, record, produce, and release.  The extended time it took to go from inauguration to release is the inspiration for the title “Better Late Than Never.”  I have to say, as far as expectations are concerned, for an album that took over a year to put together, I was truly hoping for more than just some fairly twee rearrangements of old songs and a couple of light weight new ones.  I was hoping some true creativity would work its way into the music.

All in all this album is really only for Anderson and Ponty fans who enjoy nostalgia and enjoy the idea of these two luminaries working together and enjoying the music of other.  So, as fans of both Anderson and Ponty, I really enjoyed the music and hearing the collaborate, but I was disappointed that they did not really do anything special or creative or really stretch themselves at all.

Photographs:

 

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Yes Opening Bands: What All Have You Seen?

 

[Updated on August 21, 2017]

Here is another addition to my series of Yes music posts.  I started this series here and you can read the others here.

As you can see here, I have seen Yes many many times.  In many of these shows, usually summer shows, Yes has toured with an opening band.

As of this writing, the following are the bands I have seen open for Yes thus far:

What bands have you seen open for Yes?

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