It's been a busy few days with Yoso and the Anderson Wakeman Project 360 both playing London a day apart. I saw the Yoso show. I'm seeing Anderson Wakeman at the end of their tour, so did not catch the 12 October show, but a friend picked up for me the two new albums on sale at gigs: Jon Anderson's Survival and Other Stories and the Anderson/Wakeman album The Living Tree. More on those later.
Yoso, on the final date of their tour, put on a strong and enjoyable show. My partner and I briefly met the band beforehand and they all seemed in good spirits. We had opted to sit upstairs at the Jazz Café with food, including a very good sage and butternut squash risotto (complete with deep-fried sage leaves - yum), so I had a great view of Tony Kaye in particular and the rest of the band, except for Scott Connor on drums, largely hidden behind a speaker. Also upstairs were Keith Emerson and Asia manager, Martin Darvill, although whether for some particular reason or just a good night out, I could not fathom. Turnout seemed a bit disappointing to me, perhaps somewhere around 120 in total, but the crowd were enthusiastic. [Update: Yoso report they sold out the venue, which would be 350. I wonder whether, what with it being a school night, a number had left before the end.]
Yoso put on a long and packed set. The Yoso material worked well live, often better than on the CD. The live atmosphere suits the material's rousing, anthemic nature. "To Seek the Truth" was the surprise standout, as a piece that had not attracted my attention in studio form. However, the Yoso pieces did not attract the same level of dextrous playing as elsewhere in the set and the highlights for me were (predictably?) the Yes numbers, particularly the medley of early Yes pieces/"Cinema", a showcase for Kaye's playing. Similarly, compared to some straightforward right-hand keyboard solos on the Yoso songs, it was great to hear and see Kaye's playing on the opening of "Changes". An extended "Open Your Eyes" also worked very well, although the new, middle section in "Owner of a Lonely Heart" seemed a bit pointless.
We also got an acoustic solo from Bruhns, a nice Howe-like piece entitled "First Light", and a lengthy rhythm section feature with a good drum solo from Connor followed by Sherwood's bass feature, which had some great moments. Billy's bass playing was strong throughout and he was on good from with his vocals. Connor drummed well. Bruhns coped well with the range of guitar styles covered (Rabin, Howe, Banks, Lukather) and kept the tempo up through numbers which Steve Howe often plays that bit more slowly these days.
Kimball was an exuberant frontman, belting out numbers as if he had to fill a whole auditorium rather than a small room, and handling the occasional technical problem with humour. He also played keys on several numbers, particularly the Toto pieces. However, at times his vocals were the weak element. The lowest spot of the show came with their second number, Toto's "Girl Goodbye", with Kimball off-key and a boring rock sound that did not fit the venue. But the other Toto songs were better, and I spent much of the next day humming "Hold the Line"! That was for me perhaps the other big mistake. "Hold the Line" should have been the encore. Instead, we got "Louisiana Blues", an uninteresting 12-bar blues song that struggled to stay on course despite its simplicity.
In all, a great night. Sadly, we couldn't stay to hang out with everyone afterwards. Now the tour has ended, it's a bit late to recommend you catch a show, but hopefully we will see the band back in action soon.
Set list (as far as I remember it): "Yoso", "Girl Goodbye", "Hold On", "New Revolution", "Yes Medley" (with "Looking Around", "Harold Land", "Every Little Thing", "Survival", "Something's Coming", Yours is No Disgrace", "Starship Trooper", "Cinema"), "Where You'll Stay", "Open Your Eyes", "First Light", "Africa", "Changes", "Walk Away", "Burn Down the Mission" (Kimball solo), "Owner of a Lonely Heart", drum solo, bass feature, "Path to Your Heart", "Rosanna", "To Seek the Truth", "Hold the Line", "Roundabout"; encore: Kimball piano/"Louisana Blues".