Jon Anderson and Rick Wakeman have been very busy since they teamed up to release Jon’s solo albums The Living Tree (2010) and Survival & Other Stories (2011).
Anderson has made an amazing comeback from a debilitating health issue that took away his angelic vocals. Since fighting his way back and then watching his former band mates in Yes go on without him, well let’s just say there have been plenty of motivational tools to keep those creative fires burning in his belly. Rick Wakeman has proved to be a true friend of Jon’s and has not only made fine contributions to his recent solo efforts in the studio but now with live recordings such as the recently released The Living Tree In Concert Part One.
Fans of Jon’s music are assured of a second installment of live recordings as indicated by the title of this new release. This is a good thing if you enjoy Jon’s music in a live setting. Although the vocalist may have lost some of his mojo over the years because of age and so many years of performing, where he may lack ever so slightly now is overcome with heart, soul, and a real spirituality and belief in himself and his fellow man. All of that comes through in a big way when you hear this duo perform. Wakeman’s keyboards are the perfect complement to Jon’s dreamy vocal style. Rick is arguably the best keyboard player in the history of rock music and his special touch and talents sound so elegant and well placed on stage with Jon.
The cover art of this release says a lot about the music and the creators. The luminescent “Living Tree” is comparable to the trees that were the essence of life in the movie Avatar. If you look closely at what is coming off the tree you will see birds and musical notes. With progressive artists like Anderson there is always more to it than meets the eye and it comes together quite nicely.
What you get on these live tracks is a mixture of Anderson’s solo catalog and a few Yes classics, which hardly covers the immense career this prolific artist has enjoyed but it does you give a solid glimpse of where he was and where he is now. Tracks like “Long Distance Runaround” is a window to the past and “23/24/11” takes you to present day battlefields where are young men and women are dying every day. Amongst all of this harsh reality, Anderson offers hope and the energy of his spirit to give every track a positive spin regardless of the subject.
I admire Jon Anderson the artist but more importantly I am impressed with the person, the individual views and spirituality of the man. Feeling this way made The Living Tree In Concert Part One a special experience.
Key Tracks: 23/24/11, Long Distance Runaround, House of Freedom
Keith “MuzikMan” Hannaleck
January 27, 2012