Jon Anderson @ The Birchmere – August 5th 2019

Jon Anderson @ The Birchmere in Alexandria, VA on August 5th, 2019

Jon Anderson started the recording of his latest release, 1000 Hands, nearly three decades ago in 1990, but put the tapes away and forgot about them until 2016 when he dug them out and began working on finishing the album. It finally came out in March of this year, making it his first solo record since 2011’s Survival & Other Stories. With his seven-piece band in tow (a very international group, featuring members from Sweden, Taiwan, the Philippines, and Ireland), Anderson brought his new release to the Birchmere in Alexandria, Virginia on Monday night, performing a mix of tracks from it and classic songs from throughout his long and storied career.

Anderson and his band came out punching from the start, opening the set with “Owner of a Lonely Heart,” the highest charting song that his former band Yes ever had. A song that even the most casual fans likely knew by heart, it had the effect of electrifying the room immediately, a mood that didn’t let up at all through the two-hour long set.

From there, Anderson split the set between his solo material and Yes songs, with his very capable backing musicians never missing a beat no matter how complicated the music got. “Yours Is No Disgrace, ” “I’ve Seen All Good People,” and “Sweet Dreams” took the audience back to nearly the beginning of his career, while new songs like “Ramalama,” “Where Does the Music Come From,” and “First Born Leaders” showed where he’s at musically today. Interspersed through it all were Anderson’s messages of happiness and positivity.

Focusing mostly on his latest solo effort and his time with Yes, Anderson mostly avoided the rest of his solo catalog. But that just made the few times that he did diverge back even more special, as he featured two tracks from his 1976 solo debut Olias of Sunhillow, “Flight of the Moorglade” and “To the Runner.” The excitement of hearing these relatively rare tracks was palpable amongst the fans in the room, and just by themselves they surely made the night of more than a few.

By the time Anderson closed out his set with a few more Yes staples – “Starship Trooper,” “Roundabout,” and “Soon” – the audience was on their feet despite the tightly-spaced tables that made up the venue. Even at 74, Anderson is still a performer at the top of his game.

Local singer-songwriter Eric Scott opened the show.

Jon Anderson setlist

Owner of a Lonely Heart
Yours Is No Disgrace
State of Independence
Makes Me Happy
I’ve Seen All Good People
Where Does the Music Come From
The Chicken

Flight of the Moorglade
Sweet Dreams
To the Runner
Long Distance Runaround
Wonderous Stories
First Born Leaders
1000 Hands (Come Up)
Starship Trooper

Photos © Matt Condon

Jon Anderson

Eric Scott

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