Friday, July 17, 2009

I went to see Jon Anderson in concert here in Rome last night. As I’m sure many of you know, he was the lead singer of Yes, the 1970s progressive rock juggernaut that is near and dear to my heart. Jon is on a small solo tour of Europe right now. (Meanwhile, Yes, with a replacement lead singer, is currently touring America. It’s a long story.)

The concert was held outdoors in Villa Adda, a park on the north side of the city. The attendance couldn’t have been more than 300 or so, so it was a pretty intimate affair. We all pulled our plastic chairs right up the edge of the stage. I went with my friend Neil, and we sat less than 20 yards from Jon.

It was a nice, mellow concert. Jon played at least bits of lots of Yes songs: And You and I, Roundabout, I’ve Seen All Good People, Owner of a Lonely Heart, Long Distance Runaround, Starship Trooper, Yours Is No Disgrace, etc. His forays into his solo catalog were mercifully brief.

What surprised me was how frail he appeared. He'll turn 65 this fall and he's had some health issues for the past few years, including a broken back and chronic asthma. But he’d always seemed ageless to me. Not anymore. He had to use his inhaler several times during the show (though all the smokers crowded at the front of the stage didn’t help). He moved slowly and even seemed to have trouble putting his guitar back on its stand when he was done with it.

Alas, none of us is getting any younger, least of all yours truly. More on that later...