Eye witness report on the concert in Los Angeles, 1986
I remember when I first caught the ad in the Daily Bruin student newspaper at UCLA..."Vangelis to appear at Royce Hall." Knowing that he'd only given two or three concerts previously, I think my heart skipped a whole minutes worth of beats. The day the tickets went on sale, I was there over an hour in advance to insure getting the best seats possible, which isn't hard since Royce Hall is a small venue with excellent acoustics throughout.
Finally, the day arrived and it immediately promised to be everything I'd hoped for. The audience was demographically all over the map, from elderly opera patrons to middle-aged showbiz types to funky, young music industry types.
Entering the hall, the first thing to catch my eye was the wall of loudspeakers on the stage, approximately six 18-foot columns, each comprised of two massive 9-foot speakers, lined in an arc around the back of the stage. In the middle was an impressive console of what must have been at least 9 keyboards formed like three sides of a square.
As the hour approached, more people continued to stream in late, including Dyan Cannon and, most inconspicuously, Jeremy Irons, who was just coming off his success in "The Mission." Irons entered wearing a bright, cherry-red, velour-textured blazer and took his seat in the center section.
Finally, the lights went down and a respectful cheer erupted when Vangelis stepped out, smiled bashfully, and took his seat at the console, his left profile to the audience.
He effortlessly slipped through a half-dozen of his most memorable music, including pieces from Chariots, Albedo, China and Spiral.
I only vaguely remember him speaking at the break, just long enough to introduce an old friend... Jon Anderson, who stood up near the front of the hall and walked up on stage as the hall erupted into bigger cheers than previously. Whether arranged or not, the two performed "So Long Ago, So Clear" beautifully. Anderson praised his friend and offered some recollections of when they first met and how they worked together that elicited fond laughter from the audience, most of whom obviously had some knowledge of this history in the first place.
After the interlude with Anderson had ended, Vangelis resumed his repertoire, receiving a standing ovation at the end. He smiled gently from behind his keyboards, seemingly overcome and shy at the same time, the waved his hands in an amusing clenched fist "victory" salute over his head. When the ovation continued, a clear demand for more, he stopped, seemed to think for a moment and then nodded firmly, as if he had finally thought of the appropriate encore...."Singing in the Rain," Vangelis-style.
Again, a standing ovation and the all-too-short evening was over. As an overcome and overwhelmed audience exited Royce hall amid smiles and laughter, I remember overhearing Dyan Cannon exclaiming to her friends the same sentiment felt by all that evening, "It's just pure, improvisational genius."