19 years, 1 month and 3 days ago
Friday, May 7, 2004
Air Canada Centre
Friday night's performance was nothing less than spectacular. We were sitting in the lower section of the arena behind the soundboard. At the start of the show there were shouts from the audience to "turn it up," which the soundman abviously heard because the volume immediatley rose. My buddy went up for a beer and noticed that the sound was much better up in the reds, where there were plenty of extra seats. We moved up and he was right..it was much louder and much more clear. I thought Going For The One was an excellent choice for an opener. I love the usual openers, but it was nice to see them do something different for a change. I disagree with the first review, the Chicago blues shuffle rendition of Roundabout was wonderful and expertly pulled off. All in all, it was the best Yes show i've seen to this date. Yes, there were mistakes, but remember, these guys are human and you ones that like to pick apart the songs should remember that. Yes playing at their worst, is still much better than many other live bands these days. And remember, these guys are pushing 60.
Last night's Yes concert at tha A.C.C was the first time I had seen the band in exactly twenty years. From our seats two-thirds of the way back from the stage I was delighted to see they hadn't lost any of their love of performing live nor could Toronto fans hide their hunger for the hallowed group's other-worldly presence. Last night's performance reminded me of the first time I gathered with them "in the round" back in the late seventies. Earlier in the day we dropped by at Sam the Record Man to breathe the same terrestrial ether as the illuminati of progressive rock and sneak a few autographs as well. Although they seemed less than inspired to be there they nevertheless were kind and obliging though noticeably subdued-especially Steve Howe who seemed uncomfortable and near panic-stricken at one point totally ignoring my dumbfounded grin and outstretched hand. Rick Wakeman on the other hand was totally-I mean totally- cool and the only one I managed to exchange more than mere pleasantries with. In fact when I apologetically put before him a freshly procured copy of T.F.T.O. knowing full well he never thought much of the record in the first place, he seemed immediately poised to explain that, although the record was in his estimation "all wrong" he thought I should know that that night's rendition of Ritual was going to kick some major butt- which it most certainly did. Thanks Rick-you can't believe how much I would love to have run into you in a pub somewhere in the English countryside instead- sorry, I realize you've long since sobered up. Which brings me back to last night's performance which, apart from the usual petty annoyances, was a near flawless gem; orbiting somewhere between just above mediocre to beyond the sublime and, on two or three occasions, drifting out towards the nearly alchemical- each point of the pentagram of Yes being in perfect relation to the others and to the elements and planetary bodies at that point. Back on earth, the mix was surprisingly good for an arena although at times it seemed Steve's guitar was a little abrasive (sour grapes!). What's more I felt Going for the One just didn't have enough kick to cut it as an opening number and seemed to fizzle out about half way through- like it always did for me on vinyl. Parallels from the same album or better yet Siberian Khatru, tried and true as it may be from days of old, would have been the wiser choice. Also, the over-sized Seaworld-bought inflatables have got to be set adrift for good. How a sophisticated bunch of musicians the likes of Yes could ever want to be associated with such visual ballast and artistic indiscrimination is beyond me. If there's a subtle bit of wit at work here I fail to see the point. The unplugged segment of the show was tastefully done, however it would have suited a more intimate venue- at one point I felt like I had been beamed aboard the Love Boat. Roundabout should have either been left alone or entirely out of the picture- it deserves more stately treatment done live. Softer numbers like Turn of the Century and Wondrous stories were beautifully rendered however, as was Long Distance Runaround. I nearly left my body during And You and I and Ritual. Overall a highly commendable effort. I will not wait another twenty years before I see these guys again. A-