After parking it was time to try and find the venue. I turned one corner and hurrah there was the Derngate Auditorium.
I don't know what it looked like before but has recently undergone a makeover and the venue both inside and out looks brilliant. The outer part of the venue is open and friendly, there was even a lady at the door welcoming us in which was a pleasant touch.
The inside of the venue was originally based around the Klingon hall of justice(?) (Star Trek 6) especially its vertical levels, and then given a clean makeover by the Federation. Best of all though is that the seats are not on a slope but on individual steps thus giving good views to all (unless any freakishly tall people turn up).
I've seen Rick Wakeman many times before with his own band and Jon Anderson solo last year. This time they have joined forces for this 18 gig UK tour. I should really be seeing them at a closer venue in two weeks, but coincidentally on that night I will be seeing another Yes member in his old reformed band.
The stage set was very simple. On either side of the stage were long vertical banners with artistic interpretations of their names. In the centre was a grand piano facing away diagonally from the audience. This is of course where Rick started the night. It began when the intro music (which is actually about 30 minutes of ambient noises with bird song) ended with some piano notes that then juxtaposed into Rick beginning the first song. To the right of the stage stood Jon who with his acoustic guitar joined the movement then added his own distinctive voice to the mix.
The first song was a new one, the first of about 5 new songs, most placed within the first half of the show and were so new that the duo still needed to read the music and lyrics when performing them.
The other tunes were mostly Yes compositions which had been stripped down to their piano and guitar parts, although Jon isn't quite Steve Howe on guitar, so simplified them for his acoustic. Yes songs from ages past that appeared in the first half were Yours Is No Disgrace, Wonderous Stories, Your Move, Time And A Word, and South Side Of The Sky.
Then a 25 minute break - Tour Programme to the car so no accidental creasing, shirt to car (I got changed into the tour T-shirt before the start), naughty mini tub of ice cream, wander around the venue.
After the break Jon walked onto the stage alone and sat down at the piano for the start of his solo section. He played a song called Set Sail before going into sections of Revealing Science Of God.
Rick returned to help with one of my favourite modern Yes songs Give Love Each Day, and then parts of Nous Sommes Du Soleil. Then it was time for Rick's solo section.
First on his list was the Nursery Rhymes Concerto which consisted of 5 nursery rhymes each played in the style of a famous composer including Mozart, Ravel, and Les Dawson. Then his own composition Katherine Howard, and lastly Eleanor Rigby in the style of Prokoviev.
The stripped down Yes tunes continued with some epic classics of And You And I, Turn of The Century, and Awaken, which just like when they are part of the normal Yes set were highlights.
Finishing off the main section was Owner Of A Lonely Heart, Sweet Dreams, and a new song called Deeper Love.
A we've only been hiding in the wings moment later they played Roundabout followed by a past track that actually sounded almost the same as on record (minus the atmospheric keys) as then it was just a Rick and Jon piece. It was The Meeting and it did a fine job ending the 2 hour gig on the same kind of peaceful note that had been there throughout.
The 2 old geezers are pioneers of their art and have a great bond between them. Jon is a bit spacey and all about love and spiritualism while Rick is a bit more down to Earth and with a quick wit. This wit and the banter between them also added a nice buzz to the event. At one point it evolved into physical comedy when Rick started to jokingly kick the speakers at the sides of the stage when one person in the higher tiers shouted that he couldn’t hear. Best of all though was when Jon mentioned that Northampton had lots of musical heritage to which Rick replied that Stevie Wonder had a lot to do with the town, he wrote the road signs (Tich Boom!).
A wonderful and peasant evening out (finished off with some more naughtiness in the shape of a Burgerking burger at the services on the way back).