Well, last night I stayed in and watched TV instead of going out to Paddy’s Goose and drinking Kronenbourg and chatting to middle-aged transvestites and listening to mid-seventies soul and AOR. Although in a different existence I could be sitting in a trendy arthouse cinema bar, drinking Michelob, chatting to drama students and listening to the 1937 recordings of Schoenberg and Brahms.
I switched channels just in time to catch Elbow starting their monster anthem, ‘One Day Like This’, a daringly simple tune, poignant lyric and really corny Hey-Jude-style coda. I’ve heard the song numerous times on CD and live broadcasts, but I’m always impressed by Garvey’s voice. Even against a wash of radiant strings his singing is still distinctly (no other word will do) beautiful.
It was ten years ago, in November 2001, that I went to see Yes in concert at the Apollo; their legendary keyboard player, Rick Wakeman, was away performing elsewhere so they had recruited a small string orchestra instead. And again, Jon Anderson’s voice has an unearthly presence that somehow makes it stand out against soaring guitars and shimmering violins even when blending in perfectly.
But this time (November 2011) Yes are performing again at the Apollo without Anderson. Apparently they have secured the services of a young tribute-band vocalist who sounds exactly like the real thing. Normally I like tribute acts; they are generally younger and prettier than the real thing (not difficult when you want to perform Jumpin’ Jack Flash) and they bring a sense of humour to the performance which the original artists abandoned when they became tax exiles.
I’m not sure exactly why, but.the idea of watching Yes without their lead singer leaves me cold. Perhaps they should have not announced the fact, and simply toured with JA on hand to give press interviews, while allowing the young imposter to perform on stage. And what a marvellous story it would make when they revealed all, in two years’ time, in the band memoirs!