9 years and 20 days ago
Thursday, May 8, 2014
London, United Kingdom
Royal Albert Hall
Friday, May 9, 2014 12:51 PM
The Albert Hall has always been a bit of a weird one. You can walk ten feet from your seat and the sound is entirely different. They've done their best to combat the acoustic problems there, but its never going to be great for rock bands. I saw John Barry there with an orchestra some years ago, and the drum kit sounded like it was being thrown down stairs.
I'm still trying to process it, really. Firstly, we had great stalls seats, on Steve's side of the stage. The audience this time around somehow didn't seem that 'Yes-like'. I saw a few familiar people,but there seemed to be lots of 'daytrippers'. People did keep getting up to go to god know's where, at the most inappropriate moments. They guy behind me was contemplating eating an egg sandwich mid-set! My eyes always water a bit when the Firebird creeps in. I've always loved that piece, and that, combined with the anticipation of what's to come, always moves me. And that's sort of as good as it got for me.
I can't get around the fact that I don't like Geoff's keyboard playing. I don't think that's controversial. I don't like Keith Emerson's style, or Jon Lord's. It's a matter of personal preference. I just find it too generic, and not subtle enough. The more he played, the more I missed Wakeman. It seems to me, he either 'bottled' a fair number of the more intricate parts, or just doesn't rate them as integral to the whole. There were points in the set where there were just silences, where some great little passages of keyboard playing usually sit. It also seemed like he'd brought a whole bunch of pre-touch sensitive keyboards with him to the show. I could go on and on about what I didn't like in the keys performance, but I think it's best if I leave it there.
It does, however, bring me to my other real concern. I think there's always a danger of diminishing returns when you lose more than two original or classic line-up members of a band. If it's the drummer, you can (in a Spinal Tap way) sort of live with it. In the case of Yes, to lose their most iconic keyboard player, and a truly enigmatic singer, is - for me - almost terminal. I saw a band last night, but I'm not sure it was Yes. They played Yes songs, and contained three stalwart members, but the dilution was too much for me. I had a great evening, but I'm not sure I was at a Yes show. I think I felt the same when the singing waiter was in the band. Jon D is very, very good. The fact that he is so very good just made miss the presence and voice of JA more. I do like the fact that he does not actually have that similar a voice to Anderson, and he brings some relatively youthful energy to the proceedings. He reminds me more of Roger Hodgson from Supertramp, which is a reasonable compliment. I definitely do not like his habit of over-singing the final note of every single climatic moment, often over a special bar or two of Steve's guitar work. Stop it. Now.
Like PL, I felt that Alan was struggling. I'm not surprised though, having to tackle those three albums in one session. He did lack subtlety at times, and the acoustics of the hall really didn't help. I'm not sure that Downes' lack of subtley hasn't rubbed off on White. He looked cream-crackered by the end.
Squire is just Squire. You could put him a garden shed, with the worst bass guitar in the world, and cotton wool in his ears, and he'd still wipe the floor with just about every bass guitarist on the planet. Truly majestic, absolutely bonkers, and the soul of Yes. I love the way you can HEAR the wood in his Rickenbacker. He, more than anyone, impressively held it together at a couple of points where there was a danger of the band derailing. The worst point - and I'm sure I didn't imagine it - was in Roundabout, when some band members appeared to be playing the chorus when they should have been playing the, often excluded, middle section.
For me, though, the night belonged to Steve Howe. He is a truly amazi