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Jon Anderson

The Mother's Day Concert

Review by Gary Hill
Originally available only as a bootleg, VoicePrint has teamed up with Jon Anderson to bring this magical event to the general public. It should be said that since it was a bootleg, the sound quality is not what you might expect from a Jon Anderson release. Yes, they have cleaned up and done everything they can to get this recording to high quality standards, but you are stuck with what was originally captured on the recording medium. This was an audience recording and you can tell. The thing is, this one of a kind concert was so magical and powerful that it doesn’t really matter. There are great and very unique things happening here and it’s a good thing that we can have this for our own now. Yes fans and Anderson fans in general should really pick this up. For those who haven’t delved into Anderson’s solo catalog yet there are better starting points, but this is not something to be simply dismissed, either.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2007 Volume 5 at lulu.com/strangesound.
Track by Track Review
Intro
This is what it says it is – an introduction to the concert. It is achieved through tribal drumming with waves of melody emerging over the top after a time.
I'll Find My Way Home
Here we get a live rendition of the classic Jon and Vangelis song. As presented here this feels more organic than on the studio take. The change adds a new sense of living and life to the track. Always a great track, it seems even more magical here. Unfortunately, some of Anderson’s inspired non-lyrical vocal improvisations (along the lines of scat) near the end of the track get a bit drowned out by the crowd noise.
Wonderous Stories
Anderson moves into Yes territory with this song from Going For the One. Always a beautiful piece of music, it starts gently and builds as it moves forward. This varies a bit from the original version, mostly in terms of the arrangement. It still holds all its charm and majesty, though.
Charlie Brown Theme
A keyboard solo, this is literally a rock and roll rendition of the “Charlie Brown Theme” song. Anderson adds a few little accents here and there.
Children of Light
In the sneak peek department we get a rendition of the Open Your Eyes song “Children of Light” before that album was ever released. Here it is presented a bit more straightforward in approach. The more stripped down motif allows the lyrics to speak a bit more than they do on the Yes version. It really gives a nice glimpse into how songs change and mature as they are brought from the early sketches to more and more completed creations. This is one of the tracks that (by itself) makes this disc worth having.
Time and A Word / Soon
More Yes territory is covered here with a stirring medley of “Time and a Word” and the “Soon” section of “Gates of Delirium.” This rendition of “Time and a Word” falls closer to the version Yes has done in more recent live performances than it does to the original telling of the tale. I have to say that “Time and A Word” has always been an overlooked gem in the Yes catalog, so it’s good to find it here. It’s also amazing how well it works as a counterpart to “Soon.” The Rabin version of Yes did this cut, but I’d have to say that I like the more lush arrangement here better than that one.
Owner of a Lonely Heart
While in many ways I cringe at some of the Rabin era Yes (and hit songs in general), this track is one that still has some magic and mileage left in it. This acoustic arrangement works quite well. We get a section at the end that would have been called (on a Yes bootleg) “tour song.” Anderson has always had a cool way of creating these little transitionary, unique pieces of music in the midst of a concert of familiar music. It’s just one way that the live performance is made into less of a “packaged product” and more of an experience.
Longwalker Speaks
This track starts with an ambient keyboard interlude. Then Anderson speaks about the tribal nature of mankind. He introduces a gentleman named “Longwalker” and the keyboards (vaguely Native American in texture) return. Then Longwalker (appropriately) speaks. This reminds me a bit of the Hawkwind track “Black Elk Speaks.” I love the way Longwalker addresses the fact that Americans have one day out of the year to honor mothers, while the Dakota people honor women and mothers every day. We can certainly learn a lot from this.
Change We Must
The first true Anderson solo number presented here, this starts gradually with tribal percussion. It grows in a very organic manner, building with swirling lines of musical magic woven over this backdrop. Then Anderson’s vocal comes in and presents his form of a chant (with backing vocals adding to the vision). He moves into the verse, creating his challenge for the new millennium of the need for a change of mankind. This is a very beautiful and positive piece of music and has one of the more complete arrangements of this concert. It’s also one of my favorites here. A good part of the second half of it consists of stage banter and stories.
Time Has Come
This has a great folk meets prog approach. Based on a fairly simple arrangement, Anderson’s words make this one work.
One More Time
While this was a song that Anderson used to sing with Vangelis, the vocal delivery reminds me a lot of something from Tales From Topographic Oceans. There is a mysterious beauty to this that defies explanation and description. Overall, this is a balladic number, but that just doesn’t really give the full meaning to the magic that is contained in this beautiful composition. The performance is gentle and yet powerful. We get another bit of stage banter at the end of this.
And You And I
Another Yes song (one of my personal favorites) shows up next. While Yes fans certainly need no explanation of what this track is, for those uninitiated, let’s say at its most basic that this is an acoustic guitar based ballad. It is packed with emotion and visions of magical worlds through the layers of sound. I like this version, but Anderson says that the band just learned it the day before – and that shows at points. Mind you, this song still works quite well, but some of the transitionary points feel a bit sloppy at times. A dust devil makes an appearance at the end of this song and Anderson comments about it.
State of Independence
Now we make our way back to Jon and Vangelis territory with what is one of their best known numbers. Once again, the approach is much more organic than the highly electronic methodology given it with Jon and Vangelis. I think I might actually like this better in this arrangement.
The Revealing Science of God
While it is billed as “The Revealing Science of God,” we really only get a very brief snippet of that epic piece – the acapella introduction segment. It serves as an introduction to one of Yes’ better known pieces.
I've Seen All Good People
This is the only truly “rocking” moment of the show, a rendition of “…All Good People” that truly feels a lot like the Yes version. Mind you, this is not a note for note copy, but it more captures the spirit of a Yes concert rendition of the number. It’s a powerful way to end a great show.
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