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Friday, 18 November 2011

Yes at the Apollo

Down to Hammersmith Apollo last night to see Yes in concert. The last time I saw them it was on their 90125 tour, so quite a while ago now. Three of the band must be in their sixties, and their lead singer has been replaced by a more youthful version, but the magic was definitely still there.

Going to see a band that came to fame in the early 1970's is an odd experience: the fans are largely the same people who went to their concerts forty years ago. I'm in my fifties, but I was far from the oldest there. And what a white, aging, middle-class audience we made. As I was in Circle, row S, for the first time ever I decided to take my long distance glasses with me. I needed them too.

The Apollo is enormous, but Yes seemed to have sold it out. There was an empty seat in front of me (and I would like to thank whatever virus or mechanical defect made that possible), but otherwise the place looked chock full. I hadn't been there since a Hawkwind concert in the mid-eighties, when it still the Hammersmith Odeon, though I've seen it on telly since, of course.

The music was excellent, with the performances seeming to get better and better as the show progressed. A third to a half of it was off their latest album, 'Fly from Here'. I'm a dedicated Yes fan, but even I have to admit that much of their studio output over the last 25 years or so has been very disappointing. 'Fly from Here' is a real gem though, and all the better for being so unexpected.

When I first got to know Yes, in 1976, I started to hunt down their albums in record shops. I had no idea what they'd produced, and for a couple of years I could still come across albums I hadn't heard of. Nowadays when I discover a group or artist I like, I google them and immediately learn their entire discography. Chances are they're on Spotify, so I can straight away start listening to them too.

It is so easy to consume music now, but some part of the thrill of discovery is gone forever.