23 years, 7 months and 10 days ago
Tuesday, October 26, 1999
Last October when the boys played Houston, we had a chance to hang out with the band before and after the show (thanks Jon). We talked mostly with Billy. He's one of the nicest people I've ever met.
Christi was really impressed with Billy before, during, and after the show. She tells me that it's not so much that he has great looks or anything. It's his demeanor and his personality that is attractive.
After the show, we went to the 'band party' upstairs at the Aerial Theatre. It was pretty tame. Pepsi, peanuts, and pretzels. We talked to Billy for quite a while. He was sitting with one of the roadies... a stage manager type. Anyway, she told Billy they needed to move Chris into his spot on extreme stage right and move Billy to the middle. She also told him they needed to get rid of that ugly green spot they were using on him and change it to a white spot. Billy was flattered and flabbergasted. At this point, the stage manager guy started taking furious notes. As it turns out, in subsequent shows, Billy did indeed spend more time in the center and the green spot was gone.
At any rate, it seems that women of taste are indeed attracted to Billy Sherwood. I have to admit that his performance on the latest tour really changed my personal opinion of his contribution as a Yes member too. And I can see why the band has adopted him. He's a man of talent, integrity, and personality. I can easily see him being a real peacemaker in the group. So all you people who like to dis Billy may need to consider that The Ladder, and the current tours, simply may not have been possible without him.
Perpetual Change - The band changed the arrangement on this piece a little bit from the early 70's versions, the most obvious being the lack of a drum solo, but it also seemed to me that the early verses had a more frenetic feel- a little less flowing maybe. Don't know if it's just the difference in drummers (White vs. Bruford) or what. BTW, has Yes ever played the full PC since Alan joined the band?
Lightning Strikes - I was surprised to see Steve playing the acoustic rhythm all the way thru this song, especially since most of it seemed to be open position standard chords. He finally played some lead on the closing section, but most of his contribution to the song was standard strumming. Billy added some really good electric picking and some great inventive leads and showed me that he really can play.
The Messenger - Jon mentioned from the stage that this song is about Bob Marley and that his kids actually do sing Marley songs for him. He also said that they had a nice synergy in recording this piece as a special on Marley was on TV when they came out of the recording session.
Steve Howe solo - Wow! At first I was thinking "Oh no, not a solo spot in place of something else." But when Steve started playing "Australia", my heart leapt. I never thot I would hear that one, which I consider to be some of Steve's finest acoustic "classical style" playing. The version of "Mood for a Day" was truncated a bit.
It Will Be a Good Day - Steve took a great solo at the end, which is different from the CD, but unfortunately this seemed to replace my favorite part of the song, which is the rising "la la la la la la.." background vocal melody behind Jon's repeating "Make me believe again" at the end of the song.
Hearts - nicely done, though I am not a huge fan of the Rabin years. Steve would come on stage for the choruses only and play his steel guitar.
Awaken - again, well done. After the song, however, Chris went over to Igor and appeared to be yelling at him for screwing something up. Igor just kinda shrugged his shoulders afterwards.
ISAGP - During the final accapella part of this song, Steve, Igor and Chris took short one measure solos between the singing parts. Igor played some sort of accordion polka sounding thing, which cracked Steve up so much he was laughing during the following vocal run of "I've seen all good..." Pretty adventurous stuff, that, and funny too!
Cinema - was a chance for Billy to play some lead guitar before Steve and Jon came back onstage to play Owner. My respect for his contributions have really risen after seeing him get more action with this song and in on the songs from _The Ladder_.
Owner - Steve's solo seemed very dissonant to me (which is not necessarily a bad thing!)
Roundabout - Shortened (no middle "along the drifting clouds" section) and played entirely on electric guitar. Igor really leaned into the keyboards on this one. After the final chord, they broke back into "Cinema" again (or at least I think it was Cinema) for about a 2 minute jam.
Over all, it was a great, great show. Good to see the guys having fun and keeping things interesting and a nice balance between classics and new material. I missed hearing "New Language" which I like more than "The Messenger", but hey, they didn't ask me what they should play.
Get out your pom-poms 'cause I'm leading a cheer for Billy Sherwood. I was really impressed with his performance in Houston. His role in this tour has definitely expanded over previous tours... and that's a good thing. Despite what others have said, I think Yes does fine with two guitarists.
Billy added some excellent subtle rhythm to the classic tunes, and Steve added some very nice touches to the YesWest material. Billy was outstanding on Cinema and Hearts and has really started to add his own personal touch to the material of that era.
I also think that his backing vocals blend very nicely with Jon's voice and really add something to the live shows that has never been there before.
He's a consummate team player and, as I've said before, one helluva nice guy. Chris Squire may be many things, but a dumbass is not in the list of those things. Billy's there for a reason. As you see Yes on this tour, give this guy a chance... he deserves it.
Some of you have asked in the past if any of the members of Yes read a.m.y. The answer is *yes*. How much and how often I don't know... but I know Billy has, and he's been genuinely hurt by all the bashing that goes on here. He's doing the best he can... which is a whole lot better than most of us could ever do.
The mantra of the day (and it was indeed a GOOD DAY) was location, location and location. As in first row, dead center, with Jon right in front of me about six feet or so away. In some ways I feel that I can probably quit buying Lottery tickets, "'cause I already done won" by finding this particular seat...
THE DAY: Bright, beautiful and temperate. All morning I kept thinking, "Ye Gods! I first saw these guys 20 years ago!" Towards the afternoon the tingles began to set in and time began to crawl. I had managed to find a truly awesome seat via [Yesworld] from a fellow Yesfan (all blessings to you John!). I saw 'Row A' on the ticket but I have sat on Row A before, right in front of a speaker on the distant edge of the stage and I was hopeful that this would not be the case this time. Nothing like a little mystery and hope to keep one's juices flowing...
The Hub suggested a meeting place for Yesfans before the show, a BBQ joint directly next door to the entrance to the Theatre. Good beers were had (St. Arnold. Yum!), many good Yes tales were exchanged by all out front and the anticipation level was cranked up even further. Most of the hardened fans out front were sitting close to me. We decided to meet afterwards to discuss the show and wind down a bit.
THE SHOW: When the doors opened, I levitated inside to the apparel vendors to pick up shirts for several folks who were unable to attend. Very nice designs.
The usher led me to the middle section. We walked to the center seat and he pointed to it. "Here you are. Nice seat." What a tremendous understatement. It was damn near a religious experience. I was so close I had to turn my head around to see Steve and back to see Chris. Close enough to hear the pick on the strings during Steve's solo. Close enough to catch what the band was saying to each other. Words fail me. Wow.
Needless to say, the house mix was totally lost form my vandtage point, the stage monitors drowned everything out. I was told that the house mix was "tasty" back further in the theatre. What was interesting was that Billy's guitar was almost inaudible on stage and he was having trouble getting into the music. Igor is a madman on stage and had a fine time. Steve was really in the Zone. Chris evened out once he had a beer in him. Alan was very solid. Jon was ethereal and joyous as always. Billy filled in well. He will become more outgoing as time goes on. The energy of the band was edgy at first but evened out as the show progressed to a wonderful synergy at the end.
We at the front were standing for the encore, except for a group of four to my left. Jon walked over and waved them up to join in. One of the fellows in the group was about six-seven and I think he was sitting to try to give others behind him a good view, but when Jon says "get up" well...
AFTERS: The band was forcet to quit at 10:30. All of us levitated out to the sides and exchanged "Wows!" with each other and generally carry on about what a fine show it was. The new songs blending in with the old, the setlist, the attire, everything. All agreed that it was a damn fine show and they need to come back, pronto. We'll be there. In front.
After a bit of an iffy start Yes put on a hell of a show last night. It was considerably better that the OYE tour. Billy is doing some really good work on this tour. He made the old tunes somewhat better and the new tunes require him. He is a pretty solid jouneyman guitarist and does much to carry the melody on most of the new music. Doesnt have much stage presence, but seems to be a genuinely nice guy who is friendly to the crowd.
Igor.......well fuck me!!!! I think I like this guy better than any previous keys player in Yes! What really sold me (and my opinion has been changed overnight because of this) was his playing on Awaken. It was beautiful. If Awaken isnt played when you see them, you will never know what you missed. It was spectacular. I just hope I get to hear it again before I die.
We already know what to expect from the rest of the band. Everyone was great, just the usual. This band is hot. Tell your friends. Friends wont let friends miss Yes!!!!
Great light show......much more involved than in recent years.
I want to thank Dan Robinson again for selling me a front row seat. I owe ya buddy!
I hope I recover soon!
I had the great experience of seeing YES last night in Houston. This was my first Yes show since 1977 (I saw them several times in the early-to-mid '70s, but not since).
A great show! It's amazing how they looked the same, except maybe a little less hair on some (Steve!) and a little more weight on others (Chris!). I can remember being front row in '74, right in front of Steve, and he hunched over his geetars then just like he does now. Except then he had this long hair hanging down, Wakeman like. He still hunches, and he still is an incredible string man.
Ok, the show.....
I was amazed at so much. Jon's voice is still beautiful; how can anyone still have that voice after so many years. And he still loves to perform! YIND is a mind-blowing way to open a show. I have probably played that song 2500+ times over the last 25 years (thank goodness CDs don't wear out), and yet when they broke into it, I still felt chills. They were very tight, and really seemed to enjoy the evening.
Let's talk about that for a minute (their attitudes, that is). I had heard everything from listless to arrogant to ...whatever. WRONG! They all were high on the crowd (or something ). Jon kept chatting about all kinds of stuff, rambling on and on. Even Steve smiled his ghoulish smile a BUNCH of times. And Chris! He just kept rocking like a 20 year old newbie. Alan, Igor and Billy seemed to be having fun too. All in all, they definitely enjoyed us as much as we enjoyed them.
Awaken was tremendous (sorry, N'awlins). AYAI was great. And Perpetual Change WOW! This song really rocks live. They gave it a life of its own, and it soared a mile high.
I have not bought the new album, so I was not familiar with most of those songs. But they were fun also. I really enjoyed Lightning Strikes (?), and a couple others (names elude me). They did NOT slow down the show, or break the mood of the crowd, just because they were new songs. In fact, they were as cookin' as any of the oldies; just not as "recognizable". Will I get it? Shmaybe.
The crowd was hot; my only complaint was during some of the quieter moments, a few *ssholes just don't know when to shut up. But all in all, a very supportive crowd. And we sat for most of it, which is definitely the way to enjoy Yes. We did stand for the encores; that's Ok by me.
I'm no shill for Yes, or I wouldn't have waited 22 years between concerts. It was just, plain and simple, a great show. Thank you, Yes. I promise not to wait so long next time.
The second day in a row the show only got better - they played Awaken! My son really enjoyed that one. Someone with a digicam interviewed us in the hallway by the concessions - said she was with "Houstonpress.com" I believe. When we were done talking to her someone else out of the crowd pegs us for hardcore fans and comes over to ask me about the line-up. He'd missed both times Yes was in Houston for OYE. I let him know that if he ever did get on the internet there was plenty of company waiting here for him. The other cool thing is my son recognized some of the Ladder songs! He also picked out the cool Roger Dean shirt; I need a new white Yesshirt so I bought the one with the Talk logo. Did anyone else see Jon actually play the harp or was it just or show? Awaken was great. Billy was great. Chris was more subdued than I can recall - hope this means he's working out his issues. Or maybe he just likes the Ladder enough to be confident and laid back. Igor's never sounded better and Alan keeps thrashing along. Chris' three-neck bass is cool too. Is that the 8-string I've heard so much about? Finally (teehee) I have to say the program is the best ever. Literally. There is so much information and artwork packed into it that everyone going should plan to buy two - one to give as an Xmas present - for an unfortunate friend unable to attend the show. That's it - I've run out of superlatives!
October 26, 1999 found the men of Yes in Houston. Compared to many reviewers and readers I have not seen as many shows as most. It was maybe my 9th concert and that includes a concert from AWBH. As always they put on a great show IMHO. This is the second time they have played in the Aerial Theater. It is a fairly small hall. There were a few empty seats in the loft or balcony area. It seems that the crowd seems to get a little older and smaller each visit. Fortunately they are a loyal following. Most that I talked to had been to dozens of shows. Most were very familiar with the new material as well. The hall is small, intimate setting. Even the back seats offered a great view of the show. They only had two people running the concessions and they were backed up before the show, about a 15-minute line. If you wanted a medium you had to get a large or bigger. (This was not a problem for me, but pissed the person behind me in line) I had the pleasure of seeing the show from the front row. A great place to see the show but I suspect not the best place to hear the show.
They opened about 15 minutes later than the stated time on the ticket. The Firebird is truly the only way to start a Yes concert. I feel a rush of anticipation every time it plays. They came out to an enthusiastic welcome from the crowd. Our setlist was basically the same as those previously posted with a few exceptions. We had the Time and a word excerpt before Homeworld, our Howe solos included Mood for a Day and they did put Awaken back in the setlist. While some have mentioned a first and second encore I would say we had more of an extended single encore.
They played the old material with their usual passion. The material form the Ladder really came alive. I had hoped that we might see New Languages, but they did play The messenger well. Some of the technical glitches that have been reported from earlier shows seemed to have been worked out. The mix seemed fairly even but loud. Chris was right in front of me and I will give him high marks for being a great showman and looking like he was having a grand time. Jon seemed to be having a good night as well. His voice is as golden as ever. He seemed relaxed and even cracked up a little when Igor did a little number on the organ. Steve was intense as usual. His playing was fantastic. He did take a few steps from his corner and occasionally broke a smile. Billy contributed more on this tour than on recent tours. He took center stage on OoaLH and Cinema. He played well and seems to be gaining more acceptance from the group and the audience. Igor is doing a great job as well. He seemed to be louder in the mix in person than on Homeworld. Yes music needs a strong keyboard sound presence and Igor is doing that nicely. Alan seemed to be doing a fine job as well. Alan and Chris exchanged some friendly words after a few tunes.
A few people have commented on wardrobe. Jon was in all white with a vest. A gold vest at first followed by a blue vest. Chris started out in a labcoat and just below the knee pants. He removed the labcoat soon into the set. Alan and Igor looked like they were ready to go on a spaceflight with their attire. Did they visit the NASA giftshop prior to the show? Billy was wear monochrome brown-black attire, like he did not want to be seen. Steve looked like a waiter from a local barbecue restaurant, with his long sleeved shirt buttoned to the top and simple pants. Billy and Steve really looked out of place compared to the rest of the group.
Our show was little over 2 hours. (I miss not seeing Starship Trooper and Heart of the Sunrise, but as you all know they could put on another 2-hour setlist of things they skipped that would all be killer songs) All of it was well played. We did have a few folks give a whoop and other calls during the quieter parts, but these were minor disruptions. I enjoyed the backdrop of projected images. I will say the set was Spartan in design otherwi