|Derngate - Northampton||12 October 2006||by Stephen Cartledge|
We all have memories of the first time we heard the music of Rick Wakeman be it his times in Yes, his days with The Strawbs, or even his session stuff from Life on Mars to the Ask Aspel TV theme tune (Yes that was Rick). Likewise with Jon Anderson, some of you came to hear of him from Yes, others from his collaborations with Vangelis. I'd known and admired their work for many years but this was the first time I'd ever had chance to see them both together. I missed out on all those Yes concerts which is my loss.
I've always be a great fan of Rick Wakeman, and my earliest memory is of my older brother bringing home a copy of Six wives just after its release. I was blown away by the sheer speed of his playing (As we all are) and I immediately gave up all hope of ever learning to play keyboard, I wrongly thought that I'd need to be to that standard to be any good, of course I now know few are as good as Rick.
Over the years I've caught a fair number of his intimate little concerts, the first being the Gordon Craig theatre in Stevenage in the early eighties. They always thrill me, and recently I've had the pleasure of introducing my Girlfriend (Now fiancee) to Rick and those who have worked with him.
So after a rushed trip up and down the M1 Carolyne and I arrived at Northampton's newly re-furbished Royal & Derngate. A quick drink and in we went. The stage was simply set with just a couple of banners, a grand piano, and a pair of acoustic guitars.
Rick and Jon took to the stage to and immediately launched into their set. They started with 'Yours is no disgrace' and I can happily say that this night was no disgrace to them Having never seen Jon Anderson live as I've said I was delighted to hear that his voice is still as good as ever. Time has had little if any toll on his abilities and a big smile came to my face. Carolyne whispered that she thought he was excellent and I nodded in agreement.
Soon the stage was rocking (Well the banners were joining in) as they treated us to both old and new (yes new) tracks. I especially liked the new 'Garden' number. I don't know its proper title but Jon did say something about its only being three weeks old.
Normally one of Rick's nights is interspersed with chat to the audience and some of Rick's famous humour. But this was a different style with music far more to the front, though we did get a few a few giggles between numbers.
They finished the first half with Awaken. I'd listened to Going for the one only recently, and this version though different without the rest of the instruments especially the famous organ lacked non of the power as far as I'm concerned. This number has some personal meaning to me and as it drew to a close a few tears filled my eyes. That moment will be the one thing I shall always think of whenever I remember this night.
Sadly during the interval a few were overheard voicing disappointment at what they'd seen and heard. I guess they'd come expecting something on the lines of a full on Yes performance stage set by Roger Dean, light show, smoke etc. I think this was unreasonable of them. This was billed as Anderson and Wakeman. Yes as a group has had a few members over the years and all of them were extremely talented and unique musicians. If Rick and Jon had taken to the stage with anyone else other than the original members (whatever line up) the whole thing would have been a second rate effort. Instead we were being treated to a bared down and more personal set, much more in keeping to the setting, and what is possible these days.
After the break we were treated to solo set by both, with Jon performing some of his favourites and Rick treating us to his now infamous nursery rhyme concerto, Eleanor Rigby, and Catharine Howard.
Owner of a lonely heart had an interesting tone to it, and it was followed by 'And you and I' and 'Nous sommes du soleil'. A new song that I believe is called 'No one' and then suddenly we'd reached the end. It wasn't a short night, it just time passed so quickly.
Encore consisted of 'Round about', and 'The meeting' from ABWH. They waved goodbye and the lights raised, and we all filled out and as usual those who wanted to meet them both hung around out in the foyer. At the last concert at The Royal & Derngate few stayed behind. I guess they didn't know about the after show meets. It was their loss and my brother and I enjoyed a nice chat to Rick and Ashley Holt after. Far more waited this time though and an orderly queue formed (Aren't we Brits so civilised). It was nice to see so many younger fans there, and I wonder if the group of four young men got to be in the audience for 'Countdown'.
Autographs acquired and a few words exchanged Carolyne and I made our way home. A slight feeling of sadness for me as we left as I know this will be the last time we'll see him in such a place.
We will be there at Marlborough for Christmas (See elsewhere on the RWCC site) and we're both looking forward to a great finale to what has been a truly magnificent stage career. All things must end and so I wish Rick a long and happy retirement.
Music never dies, and memories keep the live shows fresh in our minds. Such immortality means the show is never really over just that the interval is as long as you make it now. Go dig out an album and remember. As for me, well I'm 48…and I'm thinking of taking up piano lessons after all.