19 years and 26 days ago
Saturday, May 15, 2004
Paul E. Tsongas Arena
This concert started with a flight from Ft Lauderdale up to Boston the day before and meeting the band in a Cambridge record store. The concert itself was quite a performance in spite of Wakemans classic old Moog malfunctioning due to the crazy hot temps inside the arena.
I've got to say that the most exciting part of the weekend was back at the airport where I ran into Rick Wakeman and Jons son Damion in front of Logan Intl airport. Damion and I ended up on the same flight but we had time to kill before flight time. I noticed he had a guitar case and me being a collector of guitars, I asked what type of guitar it was. He handed it to me and allowed me to play it a bit. Turns out it was his dads guitar so I was very happy to be playing it. I began to play "South side of the Sky" and Damion began to sing the lyrics, sounding much like his dad.
He asked me if I was in a band and felt that I could play anything Steve Howe could play. This is where the surreal scene returned to reality. He told me that he'd tell his dad that if Steve couldn't make it to a gig that he should contact me to stand in.
Well, I guess I'm on standby for some Yes gig in the future. Still practicing of course.
I was really psyched for this show too. I had a 2nd row seat, right in front of Chris. I enjoyed it immensely, although it definitely wasn't 1970's Yes, as others have observed. To compare this show to the Going For the One or Tormato tours is like comparing apples and oranges. The band has been through a lot of changes since then and I consider myself incredibly lucky just to see this lineup again.
If you watch the video, you'll see that there was an aisle right in front of Chris. On the right, looking from the stage, you'll see two guys sitting in the 2nd row on the aisle who never stood up, clapped, or even smiled the entire time. I was right next to them. I tried to ask them why they were behaving like prisoners but they clearly didn't want to talk to anyone. Go figure.
Fortunately, the woman on my left was another lifetime Yeshead and so nice that she more than made up for those two surly guys. I never had a chance to say goodbye to her at the end. So should she read this, I hope she knows how much I appreciated her being there and that I would love to chat with her. Pete (the webmaster) knows how to reach me and I go by Balrog on Dime.
As others have noticed:
There were indeed lots of mistakes, few of which can be heard in the DVD audio. It's been sterilized, which is one of the first things I noticed on hearing it. There are audience recordings of this show that provide a much more realistic idea of what it was like to be there.
The stage props looked shabby and ready for restoration. You can see it in the DVD closeups. That's the price you pay for being too close to the stage. You miss most of the visual effects. Between sets, I walked back to visit a friend and saw how much better it looked from a distance.
Chris and Rick looked grouchy and hung over. In fact, no one looked particularly happy. That struck me as odd for a show in which they knew they were being videotaped. I tried to signal Chris to smile a few times and he actually did - once.
But all of that aside, it was a great experience - one of a very few Yes concerts at which I wasn't too busy recording to really get into the music. Hearing South Side of the Sky for the first time was incredibly satisfying. As I said to my anyonymous companion, "I've heard it. I can die happy now."
YES in concert, Lowell MA May 15, 2004
I was especially psyched for this show as I was in the 3rd row directly in front of Rick!
This show was recorded for video by PBS and possibly a DVD. I saw at least 10 manned video recorders and 2 or 3 robotic cameras behind the stage. It all looked quite hi tech to me, but what do I know about these things ;-)
It was hot for New England standards that night (85 F), and the AC was not working inside the arena... but we all managed to survive. Personally, it didn't bother me too much. Anyway, the band was even hotter, playing for almost 3 hours with quite a good song selection, and some very interesting arrangements during the "acoustic set". They had to overcome some mistakes and/or problems during the performance, and like TRUE professionals, the train kept a rollin'. It seemed like Rick was having "technical difficulties" all night, especially with the moog to his right, which was the culprit during And You and I.
I really thought Rick was having a lot more fun sitting at the piano during the "acoustic set" than behind his electronic rig. He managed to squeeze a couple of quick improvisations on the piano during the chatty part... The guy can play a mean Chicago blues piano!!!
My favorites of the night:
The Meeting, with Rick's long piano intro was very nice, done with much delicacy, spirit and emotion. A lot of "positive energy" there. I hope the audience appreciated being in the presence of such a fine pianist!! Jon's voice was soooo sweet!! These two guys need to do an album together...
And You And I was fantastic, BUT one of Rick's moogs had a major malfunction during the first moog passage and Rick had to use headphones to quickly fix the problem. The rest of the band didn't seem to miss a beat. Unless they do some audio editing, they certainly will not use this in the video they were shooting!
South Side of the Sky - AWESOME, just AWESOME!!! Rick and Steve's duel was something you have to see, and hopefully the DVD and PBS program get released.
Show Me is another strong candidate... Just a beautifully done song, I'd love to see Rick and Jon do it as a duo.
I was more than pleased to run into 5 dear friends and made time for some conversations before the show and during intermission. This made the evening a better experience!
With 20 + shows scheduled for Europe this suummer, if you have the chance to see a show on this tour, go for it!
It's affirmative: Yes delivers
CONCERT REVIEW: Yes, Paul Tsongas Arena, Lowell, Saturday night.
By ED HANNAN, Lowell Sun Correspondent
Suffice it to say that Yes showed Saturday night why they call the format classic rock.
After a three-hour tour de force that should be required viewing for all up-and-coming rock bands when the Tsongas Arena concert comes out on DVD later this year, all that can be said is, "Wow."
And while various incarnations of the quintet (Yes is known almost as much for its chameleon-like lineup as it is for its ethereal music) have played in Massachusetts throughout the years, including numerous times at the Boston Garden in their 1970s heyday, Saturday night's show marked its first venture into the Mill City. It won't soon be forgotten by anyone in the near-sellout crowd.
There were so many highlights during the show, the final performance in a North American spring tour to commemorate the band's 35th anniversary, that it's hard to note them all. From the uplifting "Sweet Dreams" early in the show to "Yours Is No Disgrace" at its conclusion, this was a night of spot-on performances across the board.
When you think of Yes, chances are you think of Jon Anderson's vocals and Rick Wakeman on the keyboard. Neither disappointed Saturday night, but longtime cohorts Steve Howe on guitar and Chris Squire on bass also had plenty of room to shine. After thousands of shows performing together in some form (as was mentioned earlier, the band rarely plays with the same lineup from one tour to the next, although the current lineup features perhaps its best-known members), the unit remains musically as tight as ever.
With more than a half-dozen cameras on hand to preserve the occasion for posterity, Yes was up to the challenge and then some. Braving a sweltering Tsongas Arena (Anderson remarked on more than one occasion that someone forgot to turn on the air conditioning) that evoked memories of long-ago concerts in the climate-uncontrolled Garden, they brought the goods.
Early highlights included the classic medley "Time Is Time/I've Seen All Good People" (which makes little sense lyrically other than promoting peace) and "Foot Prints."
After a 30-minute intermission, Yes embarked on a seven-song acoustic set that dragged on too long and included too many of their hits, including "Long Distance Runaround," "Wondrous Stories," "Roundabout," and "Owner of a Lonely Heart," all of which felt a bit too watered-down and plodding with the unplugged arrangement. Things perked up again when they plugged in again for the final hour of the show.
Late highlights included '80s hit "Rhythm of Love" from the Big Generator album, where Anderson made his way around the arena to a small stage in the middle of the floor, and a 30-minute version (yes, you read that correctly) of "Ritual," which included enough tempo changes, pauses, and interludes to where it felt like a concert unto itself. Around this point, the evening became a spectacle.
A two-song encore featured the Beatles' "Every Little Thing" (which Anderson said was one of the first songs Yes recorded in 1968) and "Loneliness Is a Power" that brought the evening to a fitting climax.
Overall a very good show in an awful climate!
Yes gave us almost 3 full hours of music. They took the stage around 8:05 - 8:10 and the last notes of Starship Trooper faded away just before 11:30. I hope Lowell's Tsongas Arena isn't a union venue. Half an hour of OT is gonna cost the band dearly.
As some fans have already noted, the mercury approched 90 degrees in Boston the day of the show. Inside the arena it had to be at least 85. If there was air conditioning, it wasn't being utilized. During "Ritual" I thought Alan was going to just keel right over during his drum solo. The guys were soaked to the skin by the end of the second set.
I loved the adventurous setlist, but thought the show's pacing suffered for it. Mind Drive went over like a lead balloon with all but the die-hards. Breaking it into two parts left many scratching their heads -- "didn't they play this one already?"
The Roger Dean staging was pretty clever. I thought it added a lot to the atmosphere and made it a real "event" instead of just another rock show. However it was clearly in need of maintenance by the time it arrived in Lowell. Paint was chipping off here and there and some pieces began losing air pressure as the show progressed. (I thought the inflatables had a constant air supply being pumped into them so they wouldn't collapse?)
Jon continued to screw up the lyrics to many of the songs -- even with his little friend the teleprompter. He was about to launch into "Time is Time" and then froze up when he realized that the lyrics to the tune hadn't popped up on the screen yet. The band stalled for time for a bit and then played the song anyway -- presumably without the lyrics onscreen. Sounded OK to me, but then I don't know the words by heart anyway. The acoustic set was a lot of fun, both for the band and the audience. Very intimate and the tunes fared well in their stripped down arrangements -- even "Owner." And Alan wore a kilt!
There were quite a few clams heard throughout the course of the evening. The most noticeable being Wakeman's entrance to AYaI. He started playing his jaunty little mini-moog line and then SSSSKKRRRRAKKK! -- a huge burst of static erupted from his rig. He called a tech over and was quickly given a headset so he could tune up the moog and preview the sound before his next cue. All was fine after that, but it kind of ruined the mood of the song for me. Steve got lost for a bit during "Ritual" and there was a bit of a breakdown during "Going for the One." Guess they'll fix the gaffs in post-production?
No "Nine Voices" or "Soon". We got acoustic "Owner" and a final encore of "Starship Trooper" instead. Fine by me. As much as I like "Nine Voices" it's too similar to "Your Move" and "Wonderous Stories", which were both played earlier.
Wouldn't you know my wife and I sat directly behind one of several Dancing Yes Chicks. Our DYC was short, skinny, and wearing a gauzy tie-dye dress. (Row 16 Center -- you know who you are!) When DYC wasn't standing on her folding chair blocking our view she was running back and forth down the aisle to the front of the stage. There was a second much younger and cuter DYC in a halter top flailing around closer to the stage. She was being carried around on some guy's shoulders until security told her to behave or leave. That really got her steamed. She was later seen holding up an enormous black banner the read "Got Yes?" which effectively blocked dozens of people's views of the band. Way to go . . . Memo to DYC's -- the show isn't about *you*, it's about Yes.
WOW!!! What a show. Hard to tell these guys have been at this for thirty five years. Like a fine wine... Roundabout done up in acoustic blues was the highlight of the night. Thanks guys
My god - what a show.
Not a great venue for sound as its a bloody hockey rink, but after theh first 3 tunes they ironed it out and quick.
Lots of cameras, and a good, not great but really good crowd. Lots of 35-40 year old dads with their 10 year old sons who have seen more YES shows than I have! Great fun. No drugs anywhere.
No security at all. I should have brought the camera gear as the shots would have been stunning.
The band was VERY VERY TIGHT. They obviously knew it was DVD material, and it showed. I havent heard Steve Howe play like that for years. Animated, rowdy - he even played the Rabin solo on TROL.
We got Turn of the Century AND Wonderous Stories! While Ritual was stunning, It didnt knock me over like CTTE did last years tour.
The AC was kaput - the crowd was hot and sweaty. Lots of banner, best of which was "GOT YES?" Awesome! Folks with their RELAYER and YESFAN license plates. Good vibes and great band support on the floor for sure.
My moment was definitely And You And I. During Steves soaring pedal steel I noticed I had my head tilted back, mouth wide open and was screaming in a primal rage. Totally lost myself in it 100%. JOY.
Id say maybe 4500 folks were there. In and out was easy, staff was almost invisible.
Great show! Cant wait for Essex VT!