This was my FIRST Yes concert and words can not explain how awesome the show was in EVERY possible way!!! Word was the tour started out with only solo songs by the respective band members but as the tour moved on it morphed into a "best of Yes" show.A great thing because what resulted was a show that defies description even today! The stage effects and trappings went beyond even what is usually seen today with the benefit of 32 years plus technological advancements.I've seen many groups and special effects since that show long ago(including some with pretty deep pockets,ie:the STONES)and NO ONE HAS EVER COME CLOSE TO THE MIND MELTING SPECTACULAR EXPERIENCE that Yes put on that evening! An enormous gray snake curled up behind drummer Alan White(a la "Relayer"cover art work) with it's head 2-3 levels above that moved to the pitch and yaw of the music.WHAT A TRIP!! And the music,THE MUSIC!!!, was so perfect : a cut from almost every phase of Yes's history.The stage was soooo..energetic that it seemed to pulsate and take on a life of it's own.This re-animation of Yes's very stage sort of commanded and instilled respect along with a little fear too in the audience!(Have you every been in front of a 2 story sized,light pulsating snake that stared you down with a serious look on it's face and a head bigger than a car?).Trust me,the effect is a FREAK!!!And the contribution of each musicians performance was no less harrowing! I was knocked out by Steve Howe's guitar work, he's got to be the FASTEST,most CREATIVE and UNDERRATED GUITARIST on or off the planet!(sorry Jimmy fans,and I don't even want to mention that overrated slob Clapton, who sucked so bad several years earlier that his Pittsburgh audience WALKED OUT on his boring ass at a 3 Rivers concert,myself included!) Bassist Chris Squire had the entire house glued to his unbelievable speed and im promp tu solos that thankfully materialized almost every song at the perfect time during each dramatic moment.To this day I argue that he too is one of the greatest bass guitarists that ever lived and certainly UNDER RATED as well(sorry Mr.McCartney, but you could practice for the NEXT twenty years and still have a lot to learn from Chris!). Patrick Moraz was equally compelling on the key boards to the point of inspiration, which left the crowd forgetting all about Wakeman's absence.Pat's work was so perfect that it left me and many others wondering why Wakeman was allowed to sit in with musicians of Yes's caliber in the first place! And of course Jon Anderson, the groups focal point and front man whose near angelic voice and casual,loose and happy command of the evening shifted everyone's mood to a"mellow serenity" while whipping up the tempo at a moments notice.If you've ever heard Jon sing,you know what I'm talking about.Immediately likable and disarming, Jon has got to be one of the planets most "REAL" personalities all while leading the most conceptual band of the century,kind of like a a "Bono" of the seventies. No doubt U-2's front man could've got HIS inspiration here in the first place!!! Last but never least was Alan White's incredible performance on the drums. I confess to not knowing who he was before the show but like everyone else who heard his extraordinary feats on the skins that night we left wanting more and more.I swear that he seemed to play the drums with
This was a superb and very memorable show. For starters, it was a dreadfully hot evening and the powers-that-used-to-be decided not to open the Arena's retractable roof. This led to a bit of surliness from parts of the audience, presumably the Iron City Beer contingent. It was the rowdiest crowd I ever encountered at a Yes show.
The Pousette-Dart Band opened and the Steeler fans among us apparently didn't think much of them. Their songs weren't well received and midway through their set, Jon Pousette-Dart made the mistake of admonishing his hecklers, saying something to the effect that no matter how his band was treated, Yes wouldn't come on until he was finished. Big mistake on his part! Shortly into the next song, someone from above stage left decided he should be finished NOW and lobbed a brick of M-80s onto the stage with pretty good accuracy. Mr. Pousette-Dart did a pretty impressive buck-and-wing trying to avoid having his toes blown off.
When Yes finally came on, the Arena was like a sauna. Between 'Siberian Khatru' and 'Sound Chaser', Jon greeted the audience, asking how we liked the opening act with a grin. He also explained that he had just swallowed a mouthful of McClean's toothpaste and suggested that no-one ever do that and then try to sing. He sounded fine to me, even if he did look a little strange with that ratty beard he was trying to grow that summer.
By this point in the tour the set list was pared down to the point where neither Squire nor White played tunes from their solo albums. Howe did 'Ram' and 'Clap' with more body English than I've ever seen him use, almost falling over with one high kick. This lead into a beautiful acoustic version of 'Long Distance Runaround' by Steve, Jon and Chris. Then Jon climbed up the multi-level stage to sit at a harp and play a raga-like thing accompanied by Moraz who then played a classical solo.
The remainder of the show was fantastic - possibly the best hour I've ever witnessed from Yes. 'Gates of Delirium' in particular was stellar. The simulated fire between the backdrops was pretty impressive during this tune. The multilevel stage also enhanced the percussion section of 'Ritual' to a great degree. I remember how cool Squire looked hammering away at tympani on a riser a few feet above stage level. The lasers they used on this tour were even used intelligently - no overkill a la Blue Oyster Cult.
'Sweet Dreams' and The Beatles' 'I'm Down' were pleasant surprises for encores, even if the harmonies on 'I'm Down' sucked. This show got my vote for best performance during the Bicentennial Summer.