Tim DeLaughter took to the Kessler Theater stage on Tuesday night like a guy about to meet his girlfriend's parents for the first time. He was struggling to keep himself together in front of a sold-out crowd of mostly grey-haired dads -- odd for a guy who commands a 25-piece band with ease. But there were two reasons he was having trouble. One: He was starting in on the first solo acoustic show of his career. Two: He was about to open for Yes vocalist Jon Anderson, whom DeLaughter claimed as a major influence on his music.
"This is nerve-wracking as hell," he said shortly after taking his seat on the stage.
I knew how he felt trying to play to an older generation. It's the same way I felt trying to convince the man who is now my father-in-law that I'm an OK guy. I pulled out all the stops to try to impress him the same way DeLaughter played to the audience, naming off a list of Yes records and songs that he used to love.
Luckily, in both cases, it worked. Tim won over the crowd with a set of mostly new material, despite forgetting a few chords. And my father-in-law, well, he's my father-in-law. As it turns out, he's also a pretty huge Yes fan. Like, he could name each song in Anderson's two-hour set within the first few bars.
Me? Not so much. Save for a few cover songs, I recognized two of them on my own.
When Anderson walked out on stage and addressed the crowd, I was surprised his speaking voice was just as high as his singing voice. A 1973 Rolling Stone review Robert Wilonsky read from during an interview segment towards the end of the set accurately described it as possessing an "urchin-like quality."
It was one of those voices you don't forget, because you don't hear anything like it very often. And, considering that the guy is in his mid-60s, one can only imagine how powerful it was during his younger years.
I thought Anderson's set was really good. He used a Spanish guitar with plastic strings as his primary instrument. I was especially taken back by his cover of Simon and Garfunkel's "America," and the song that ended the regular set, "Roundabout." I was even impressed with "Owner of a Lonely Heart," which I later found out is kind of a no-no with hardcore Yes fans.
The crowd (did I mention it was mostly a dudes night?) really responded to a song called "Starship Troopers," which earned a standing ovation after Anderson sang the lead guitar parts over his jangly strumming.
I looked over at my father-in-law and he was loving every minute of Anderson's set, so I knew it must have been good. Me, I grew up on Tripping Daisy, so I preferred DeLaughter's set, though it was easy to see Anderson's genius.
Overheard and out of context:
"I think he was the drummer for Tripping Daisy." - Guy in bathroom line
"Being Greek, he loves money like crazy." - Jon Anderson on Vangelis
Good point: At the end of Anderson's interview segment, he suggested collaborating on a song with DeLaughter in the future. Consider that generation gap bridged.