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Anderson, Bruford, Wakeman and Howe

Live at the NEC October 24th, 1989

Review by Gary Hill

I saw Anderson, Bruford, Wakeman and Howe on this tour and it was purely magical. The opening section was unusual with solos by each member starting things, but it really worked. It was kind of an interesting way to show that while there were ties to Yes, this wasn’t going to be precisely a Yes show. It’s always seemed a shame that the one live recording that was officially released of this tour featured Jeff Berlin on bass instead of Tony Levin. That’s not to say anything negative about Berlin at all. He is an incredibly talented bass player and did a great job (with very little time to practice the material). It’s just that Levin played on almost all the shows of the tour and wound up in the hospital when the big day arrived for the recording so Berlin had to fill in on bass. So, it’s great that they’ve released this set which features Levin.

The original audio recording seems to have a few audio glitches, but there are small and there aren’t that many of them. In addition, there was something weird done with the track sequence here that seems bizarre. It’s even more bizarre in that the correct sequence (the order played in concert) is shown on the label for the set. Those things, though, can’t take away from the fact that this is an excellent concert and great to have on an official release. In addition, this set is packaged nicely (other than the glitch on the cover) in a DVD styled box and includes two audio discs, a DVD (a short documentary styled black and white film) and replica of the original tour programme. All in all, it’s quite a classy set that only has a few minor flaws.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2012  Volume 5 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Disc 1
Time and a Word/ Owner of a Lonely Heart / Teakbois

This medley is performed on acoustic guitar and presents a cool interpretation of the music. The only thing is there, are some annoying problems with the audio at points. It’s probably from the original BBC recordings.

Clap
Part one of Steve Howe’s guitar solo is this bouncy fun acoustic piece.
Mood For a Day
And, this track continues Howe’s solo. The bulk of this is another familiar piece. However, that’s after an introduction that is not “Mood For a Day.” There’s a bit more of that audio problem on this piece.
Wakeman Solo
Rick Wakeman’s keyboard solo encompasses several musical themes and moods and showcases him on various keyboards. The man is, as always, awesome.
Long Distance Runaround/Drum Solo
Wakeman brings this in with just keyboards sort of as an extension of his solo. Then the song proper is joined and they deliver a great rendition. Bruford’s drum solo comes at the end of this and features a lot of electronic percussion. I’m not a huge fan of drum solos, but I really like Bruford, so I can deal with this one.
Birthright

One of my favorite tracks from the ABWH disc, this live version is great. It’s a powerful piece of music and works really well. The Wakeman driven instrumental section later in the cut seems even more powerful than it did on the studio album.

And You and I
While this rendition seems a bit slow, I really like the textures they get out of it. Of course, this has always been one of my favorite Yes songs from my favorite Yes album (which just turned forty years old this month).
All Good People
While the music on this rendition is great, for me the vocal arrangement really puts this into the “awesome” range. Yes fanatic that I am, I’ve heard a lot of live recordings of this song. This one is one of my favorites. The Wakeman keyboard dominated section later in the track is one of the coolest parts of this. When Howe screams out a guitar solo from there, it ups the ante even more.
Close to the Edge
Again, one of my Yes favorites, this epic piece really feels more lively and powerful in this live telling. The guitar is amazing here and this thing just plain rocks. I also really like the intensity of the drums here. It adds another layer of sound.s. 
Disc 2
Themes/Bruford-Levin Duet
I really like the live version of the opening song from the ABWH disc. The drums seem a bit more prominent in the mix and I’d say that at times Wakeman does, too. The duet section is awesome, and something that was (obviously) missing from the original live album from this tour.
Brother of Mine
This was the single from the ABWH and the melodic arrangement is really tasty. It’s not been one of my favorites from the disc, but I still like it a lot. This live version doesn’t really add a lot, but it does work quite well. The jam sections, though were always my favorite parts of the tune. Here they just feel a little weird, but I’m not sure why. It’s like the timing is a little off.
The Meeting
Essentially a duet between Anderson and Wakeman, this is quite pretty. I’ve heard several versions of this (including the studio one) over the years and I think this might be my favorite. The only thing is, we get another of those little audio problems near the end, marring the experience just a bit.
Heart of the Sunrise

There’s a bouncy little jam here as Jon Anderson says they will take a request. There’s a little humorous exchange before they launch into the Yes classic. We get quite a strong rendition here, that doesn’t seem to bring a lot of new stuff to the table, except a great sound. That said, there are some bits of vocals later in the piece that seem different and some of the keyboard sounds even further down the musical road seem to have a new sound. Bruford’s drums certainly rise to the fore at times, too.

Roundabout

The cover shows “Order of the Universe” here, and that should be the sequence based on the concert order. But, instead we get “Roundabout.” I have to admit that I’ve heard too many versions of this song and heard it live too many times. It just seems sort of obligatory a lot of the time to me. This version is adequate, but there are some annoying audio issues at times on it.

Starship Trooper

Another classic Yes tune, I really like this version a lot and while a familiar one, it’s not as over-played as “Roundabout.” That means it holds up better. They include a bit of “Soon” in the later parts of the song along with some of Anderson’s talking/singing to the audience a bit. When it powers out from there we get some new textures and feelings to the piece, but all within the standard structure. It works really well. They do turn in a bit of an expanded jam to end the piece.

Order of the Universe
Oddly enough, they tack “Order of the Universe” at the end after some silence. Parts of this feel a bit strange early on, but they pull it together from there in fine style. Bruford gets a cool solo in the middle of the track where he creates melody with his electronic drums.
 
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