I decided to head to Nottingham for this concert late in the day, and had only been able to buy a ticket for the very back of the stalls, under the balcony, by the wall. Thankfully, David Watkinson (of ‘Perpetual Change’ fame – very enjoyable book, Dave) had a spare ticket just by the soundboard, so I took that and sold on my initial one just before the gig.
The show started three-quarters of an hour late due to technical issues or a driver who got confused between Nottingham and Mansfield (depending on who you believe). There were monitor issues at the beginning, for sure. They impacted the synching of both ‘Siberian Khatru’ and ‘Magnification’.
However, I was fortunate to have perhaps the best sound seat in the house, and for the second half of the concert it was seriously good. Another evening to remember, despite the regrettable loss of ‘Close to the Edge’ from the set.
Now.. Depending on which decade your first taste of YES was probably determines what you would most like them to play. I'm a Topograghic & Yessongs man myself and it was therefore with some relish that I was looking forward to seeing this line up.
Cutting to the "negatives" first after their trad, opening and first number of Firebird & Siberian Khatru ; the first set just felt ordinary. It wasn't helped by them being late (lost in Mansfield!) and Jon looking a little "worn" (advancing years / bad back?) and still attempting to share with us his spiritualised thoughts but talking bollocks. Chris & Rik are back to "fighting weight" (hope its not the booze), but the last 10 years haven't changed Steve & Alan much.
Back to the gig..with me thinking of penning my "ordinary" review during the interval enters Jon on guitar and just blew me away. For all the march of time, his voice with I its emotion, range, depth, clarity just...
The 2nd half of the show these guys put together was just outstanding, still managing to bring tears to my eyes. Although coming only 2nd to the "Symphony" show in Yesness I still came home content with putting this gig in my all time top 10
Am I the only one who was glad the band was late ? But then I was caught up in a jam and only got to the venue after 8, expecting them to be mid set, when all we faced was slow handclapping ! Phew !! Cards on the table, I've never been a massive Yes fan (my favourite studio album is Drama - Sorry folks) but I was persuaded to go (cheers Declan) as I wanted to see Rick on something other than bad daytime TV. And I'm glad I did. Yes the sound at the start was poor but I was mesmerised by Steve Howes guitar technique - just fascinating. Jons cosmic pixie routine was, er, his "own thing maaaan" but Mr Wakeman cheered me up by attempting to play all of his many and varied keyboards at the same time. However, stars of the show have to be Alan and especially Chris with a stunning duet section - and to think I used to vote for Lemmy as best bass player in all those old readers polls. Mr Squire - I'm so sorry.
I'm pretty sure Jon was joking - the sound problems delayed the show - they hadn't gone to Mansfield.
There was a sound prob for th first couple of tracks, but no so bad as to spoil the show (IMHO), but the whole gig was just great, I thought.
I take back all my comments at the last Yes concert in Nottingham. I have to say I cannot believe all of these previous reviews knocking the sound. I guess they have'nt been to too many shows over the years where the sound has been really bad. We were a little further back next to the sound consul in row U in the middle. Rick Wakeman really is a wizard and just great to see and hear. Chris Squire was better dressed than on previous tours. Only negative comment I would have is to drop Magnification from the setlist and start the show on time. Apart from that 10 out of 10 and I am sure by the time they get to Hyde Park it will be very slick.
30 years on, 3 gigs into a new tour and these guys can still kick it. However, I can review this gig without being all ‘glassy-eyed’! Great 2hr 30min long set-list covering most of that time-period although I could do without ‘Awaken’ and include ‘Close To The Edge’ instead. That song is pretty much the band’s ‘anthem’ so why exclude it? Obviously with time it’s clear that any ‘dynamism’ is eroded from a live performance by any band – compare a tape of last night’s show with say, ‘Yessongs’ and you’ll know what I mean: it's quite clear that the tempo is that fraction slower than of old. Hardly a complaint, just an observation.
PROS: pretty concise song selection (thank god NOTHING from the 80s)…sound (which from where I was sitting, 1st tier, front row, was crisp and clear and just got better (and louder?) after the interval)….Wakeman, who STROLLED this show compared to the others – the guy is just so at ease (and that fat Mini-Moog sound is awesome!!)….Squire’s vocal harmonizing, full-rendition of ‘The Fish’ and the showing of the famous Wal triple-neck bass….’And You And I’ (which got the best standing ovation of the night)….Anderson’s voice (still amazing and although maybe a key down from yesteryear, it's unmistakably Jon Anderson)….Howe’s frenzied guitar-doodling and pedal-steel work (check out ‘The Clap’ played now compared to 30 years ago – the guy gets better with age)
CONS: the delay (driver took wrong turn? Wakeman finishing off a curry? Who knows?)….‘Heart Of The Sunrise’ (sounded real 'flat' and Howe may have been a tad late early on which threw Squire totally out, to quote at the end of the song: “We’ll get that song right when we get to Hyde Park”)…’Awaken’ (3-4 minutes less in length than ‘Close To The Edge’ yet has a fraction of the latter’s dynamism, speed or power. I suspect the ambient-esque ‘Awaken’ is an easier tune to pull off these days)...Anderson's pale-mauve tracksuit!! (WTF!?)
Other than that, it was pretty much ‘Yessongs/Yesshows’ in the year 2003! Amazing to believe that the songs still don’t sound dated at all…. The clincher? I heard a rumour that they hardly did any rehearsals for this tour – kind of ‘on-the-fly’ – that speak volumes about these 5 guys’ talents and ability. 8/10
Yes at the Royal again - expectation of good sound and a brilliant show. My first time (in 28 years!) of seeing Rick with the band, apart from the union tour.
In summary, the band pulled off a very good show from what could have been a disaster. Others have written about the sound but I'm going to have to repeat.
Frankly, Khatru sounded dreadful - it was noticable that many people in the front didn't stand at the end of the song to applaud. 'Magnification' no better - the sound was muddy, Jon's voice being bounced off the rear of the hall as he apparently (I was told) had no working on stage monitor (true, judging by the gesticlations and mouthings he made as he stood on stage at the beginnning of SK). From where I was sitting (centre of Row D - must have been behind you, "Illusion") the band were very aware of the sound problem.
Things started improving, thankfully, during Heart of the Sunrise and from there on in things got better, the band working particularly hard, I felt, to involve and energise the audience.
Nice to hear We have heaven and South Side of the sky too - the first especially.
Steve's solo pieces amazing as always. Rick for me a little dispointing, why not play a couple of pieces completely at the correct speed rather than lots of (joined) little extracts fast? Also I felt he was down in the mix generally throughout the show.
Chris and Alan - what can I say? You have to go to the show if only for this. The energy was amazing, well appreciated by all but in particular by three fans front row centre who put into motion perhaps what we were all feeling.
Strangely, Awaken didn't, just, quite work for me - not sure why, possibly still the sound wasn't quite there.
Encore fabulous, MASSIVE standing ovation at the end of the show throughout the hall.
Jon thanked the audience at one point for listening intently - a nice touch and one I share, I'm glad that UK 'Yes' audiences, in the main, have respect for the music,the players and their fellow audience.
As others, I have to make comment on the clothes - my daughters comment of 'Jon is wearing pajama's' was fairly accurate, Steve's 'man at C&A' outfit in the second half, Chris's 'farmer Squire' beige/brown smock deserve some comment - but who cares when they can play music like this.
Thanks to the band for pulling a rabbit out of the hat - whilst they shouldn't have been so late, and should have checked the sound more thoroughly, what we ended up with was a very good show which quite possibly could have been a dreadful one.
See you in Birmingham (but please get the sound right!)
It was the live music on Yessongs, a purchase in the summer of ’73, that hooked me on Yes despite which I have spent the last 30 years with out seeing them live. And even then I had to be encouraged by my friend to buy a ticket.
So was it a special show for me? Forty five minutes late starting due to ‘technical difficulties’. I don’t think so. It was more likely that they had to get Mothercare to open up so that Jon could sort out his costume (nice loose fitting and bright colours).
Several bouts of half hearted slow hand clapping before the strains of the Firebird Suite opened the show. Then as if spurred on by the frustrations of the audience, an amazing version of Siberian Katru brought order to the concert hall. No wonder it’s used as an opener. A true crowd pleaser if ever there was one.
Overall I was disappointed because since buying my concert ticket I’ve been selectively (Magnification, Keystudio,Time and a Word, The ladder and 90125) rebuilding my Yes collection which halted after buying Drama. Luckily they played my favourite, ‘In the Presence of’ from Magnification as well as the title track but why nothing from The Ladder. Two tracks from the last twenty odd years is hardly a balance.
Steve’s solo ended the first half and a shortened interval caught out a few prostate challenged fans stuck in the queue for the toilet. So Jon’s solo was interrupted by the constant movement of people regaining their seats.
Rick dazzled with his keyboard gymnastics and Chris and Alan raised the volume with their duet. More classics and the show climaxed with the true Yes pomp of Awaken. If their was anyone in the audience still put out by the late start I imagine they were completely won over by the stirring encores Roundabout and Starship Trooper.
Thank you lads and long may you continue but a new album and a promotional tour would be nice.
P.S. Has anyone else noticed the underlying theme (Lord of the Rings) of the show. Steve as Gollum, Jon any Hobbit, Rick Gandalf, Chris as an entire army and Alan, well just Alan.
What can I say?
The sound was dreadful and the band were late (the driver took them to Mansfield instead of Nottingham).
I was sat in the middle of the front half of the stalls (row J) and the sound was appalling. The first three numbers there was no sound coming from the PA, Steves guitars were loud but his amps were directly in front of me. Jons voice and the keyboards could only be heard from the onstage monitors and the drums weren't amplified at all. Things improved a bit for the rest of the first half but Jon's voice was still lost. Most of the people I spoke to at the interval were disappointed with the sound too!!!
There was a dramatic improvement in sound in the second half although Jon was still somewhat lost in the mix at times.
The band were blissfully unaware of all the sound quality problems and thoroughly enjoyed themsleves throughout. The second half of the show was a classic Yes performance.
I travelled from Manchester for the show and the guy behind me had travelled from Glasgow. The first half was certainly a let down.
Lets hope someone SACKS the sound engineer before the next show!!
The band obviously hadn't visited the venue to do a soundcheck before the gig - otherwise they would have been there ontime!! Do a soundcheck next time guys!!