So much has happened, I'm not sure where to start really, but I guess the logical way is to look back at February and the shows at the London Palladium.
For me, although they were the hardest shows I've ever had to prepare for, and I think, for all of the great ERE musicians as well, the end result was, (for me anyway), amazing and well worth all the months of preparation and effort.
All of January pretty much was taken up with Erik and myself working on final templates for the shows which were sent off to all who needed them for individual preparation and undoubted sweat!
Finally in early February, we all met up at Leiston Abbey at the music school there for rehearsals, which went really well considering these were four completely different sets that we were doing and one member of the band found learning all the new arrangements more difficult than everybody else. I shouldn't name names, but I will… it was me.
I still can't believe how hard the band worked and after almost 2 weeks we packed up and headed for SW19, the rehearsal rooms, in South London where production rehearsals took place and the English Chamber Choir came to join us.
These rehearsals also went very well and eventually the opening night came upon us and this show was made up of The Six Wives of Henry VIII and The Myths and Legends of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table.
After the sound check I nipped out onto Oxford Street to buy a belt as I'd forgotten to bring one! (it's called getting old and forgetful), and whilst out I met a lot of people who were coming to the shows and many from abroad. I met people from Norway, Sweden, Holland, Japan, America, Canada, Argentina, Chile, Czech Republic, France, Germany and Brazil… and that's just the countries I can remember! I was genuinely touched by the fact that people would actually travel to hear the music.
We walked on stage, (well, not Hayley as there are no vocals on Henry), and played the Wives for the first time in chronological order, finishing with Catherine Parr.
After the interval we welcomed Hayley to the stage and performed a full version of Arthur, as per the original record with the full ending and the rarely performed Sir Galahad. Thanks to the band being so relaxed and confident, this spread to me, and I couldn't have asked for two better performances.
For an encore we did a fun version of Merlin the Magician which gave everyone in the ERE a chance to shine, and shine they did.
Next came the second night and the danger is to relax and just expect it to go smoothly, but we are all too experienced to allow that to happen and especially for the first half which was all YES music.
YES music means an awful lot to me as indeed it does to so many YES fans and I was extremely conscious that if I got this wrong, then a lot of people would be very upset and so from the outset we worked on the music being respectful and true to the original but not trying to copy and I genuinely felt we did that.
We opened with Roundabout, which is normally a finishing or encore piece, and when the last chord died away the audience reaction filled me with warmth, and I felt we had got it just right.
We put a medley together of The Meeting, Wondrous Stories and Southside of the Sky which for me was a fun way of integrating 3 completely different parts of my "YES" life.
And You and I was the bands idea. "You cannot leave And You and I out", they said… and so we didn't… and I'm glad… they were right.
After the interval we performed all of Journey to the Centre of the Earth. Lots of concentration from us all, but as we were well rehearsed, we could enjoy it as well and relax quite a bit during the performance.
We played Starship Trooper, (our own version) for an encore and then I collapsed completely knackered in the dressing room!
Now it's time to look at March and the USA piano and keyboard shows dates are on the site
That's it really and I will do a tour update whilst away in America and an April GORR…
There are a lot of performing plans afoot for the future following the success of the Palladium shows and we will let you know as soon as we know!