Jon Anderson, 1000 Hands Tour — 20 Monroe Live, Grand Rapids, Michigan, August 8, 2019.
The crowd was surprisingly sparse — was every other music fan in town at Sarah MacLachan’s orchestral show? Regardless, Jon Anderson lit up 20 Monroe Live Thursday night. Backed by a blazing new band from around the world — four young guns plus four experienced veterans — Anderson shone brightly throughout an evening of the expected Yes classics, solo career tasters and highlights from his new 1000 Hands, radiating joy and nailing every high note. A former governor of Michigan used to blab on and on about “relentless positive action”; this was two hours of the real thing.
After all, it takes serious confidence to kick off a show with your single biggest hit, “Owner of a Lonely Heart”. It takes even more guts to go beyond recreating past glories — as Steve Howe’s version of Yes did so effectively in the same venue a year ago — launch your best-known music off in head-snapping new directions, and keep a crowd of die-hard fans on your side throughout. But that’s exactly what Anderson and his merry band pulled off.