Randy: Your memory is not fading. In 2002 Howe was 1,000,000,000,000,000 of what he was in 1979.
Please keep in mind that I am posting this review 24 years after seeing the concert... so it will be fairly limited in scope.
March/April/May 1979 was a good time for me as far as concerts went. I saw the following:
05 Mar 79 Alice Cooper Wings Stadium, Kalamazoo, MI 27 Mar 79 Boston / Sammy Hagar Wings Stadium, Kalamazoo, MI 04 Apr 79 Jan Hammer Center Stage, Canton, MI 09 Apr 79 Yes Wings Stadium, Kalamazoo, MI 24 Apr 79 George Thorogood Center Stage, Canton, MI 28 Apr 79 New Barbarians Cobo Arena, Detroit, MI 03 May 79 Van Halen Wings Stadium, Kalamazoo, MI 04 May 79 John McLaughlin / Larry Coryell Royal Oak Music Theatre, Royal Oak, MI
Because of all of these concerts, I originally had decided not to go to the Yes concert (I was still in high school and didn't have that much money). In fact, I remember going to Choker Records in Battle Creek, MI the day tickets for Yes went on sale and I could have purchased front row seats. This concert was unusual in that it was in the round, and it was reserved seating - almost no concerts at Wings Stadium were reserved seating back then. Remember when you could buy concert tickets at the local record store and you didn't get gauged one penny by Ticket Master?
On the day of the show, a good friend suggested that we go. I said that all the good seats were long gone so why should we bother. He continued to try and talk me into it and finally I relented.
We ended up getting seats that were up along the side of the arena - a pretty good distance from the stage, relatively speaking. I couldn't stop thinking that I could of had front row seats (for the same price!) if I had just purchased my tickets early on when I had the chance.
In the end, however, I was so blown away by every musician on the stage, that it didn't make any difference. Strangely enough, I don't have any recollection whatsoever of thinking that I missed a great solo or two because of the stage revolving. It seems like I got to see every one of them.
In particular, I was absolutely amazed by Steve Howe's guitar playing. I recently saw a 2002 video of Yes in concert and it didn't seem anything at all like my recollections of this concert - especially Steve Howe's guitar playing. They just didn't have the same intensity. Perhaps it's just because my memory has faded so much over the years.
I noticed that there is no ticket stub posted for this show. I still have mine, however, it is in storage. At the first opportunity, I am going to forward a scan of it to this website.
Janine L. Gould
Strong, powerful performance: Yes at Wings 4/9, 1979 Wings Stadium, Kalamazoo, Michigan by Janine L. Gould, arts editor, Western Herald (reprinted with permission of the author) Kicking off their 1979 U.S. tour Monday night, Yes brought a simplified but impressive show to Wings Stadium. A revolving stage with lighting and sound systems suspended above it provided a good setting for the band's musical excursions.
Yes has long been rejected by rock press elitist publications like Rolling Stone for their progressive and sometimes mystical approach to music. It seems as though Yes has been slagged because their roots lie in the areas of folk, pop and classical music instead of blues and R & B. What it boils down to is that Yes music is ahead of its time. But there were enough fans at Monday night's concert to prove that their music wasn't so far ahead of itself as to be unlistenable.
Last year Yes celebrated their tenth anniversary as a band, which says a lot for their musical vitality and growth as well as their popularity.There has long been a legion of very vocal but unrecognized (by the press) Yes fans, enough to give the band seven gold albums (every release from The Yes Album to Going for the One). The show at Wings was a continuation of Yes's devotion to the importance of live performance, and for the opening date of a tour, they came off looking healthy and happy to be on the road again.
Yes opened with "Siberian Khatru," a tried-and-true number that got off to a somewhat slow start. There were some balance problems in the vocals and guitar which were corrected during the course of the song. Drummer Alan White picked up the pace towards the end, giving impetus to Steve Howe's extended guitar solo. It seemed as though Yes wasn't too sure about this song as an opener, although they've opened with it in previous performances. Chalk it up to pre-concert jitters and first-gig-of-the-tour hesitation.
The majority of the material came from Yes's latest LP, Tormato ("Future Times/Rejoice," "Circus of Heaven," "Don't Kill the Whale," "Madrigal," "On the Silent Wings of Freedom") with selections from The Yes Album ("Perpetual Change," "Clap," "Starship Trooper," "I've Seen All Good People") and Fragile ("Heart of the Sunrise," "Long Distance Runaround," "The Fish," "Roundabout") making up the foundation. Yes also went back to their second album for "Time and a Word" and incorporated the final segment of "Gates of Delirium" ["Soon"] into "Perpetual Change."
The material from Tormato didn't seem comfortable to the band in a live context. These songs had a confining feeling, as if their newness hadn't yet been fully tested in live performance. The difference between these songs and older tunes like "Starship Trooper" and "Perpetual Change" lies in their structure. Yes's music became much more compact on Tormato, and this may have created an obstacle in live interpretations. The older songs were much looser, and allowed the band to explore new areas within the songs' original construction.
The highlight of the concert was "Awaken" (from Going for the One). Anderson's voice had been hoarse a few songs earlier, but Rick Wakeman's solo gave him a chance to revitalize his vocal cords before embarking upon "Awaken." Anderson's tambourine/maraca instrument, combined with his sidestepping circles around his mike in countermovement to the stage's motion, gave him the look of a tribal chanter invoking a deity.
"Awaken" in a live context has an overwhelming power which overshadows the Going for the One version. The keyboard passages weren't as lush as the original, but then Wakeman doesn't have four hands -- although at times it wasn't certain that he *didn't* have more than two hands.
"On the Silent Wings of Freedom" ran a close second to "Awaken" in terms of energy and impressiveness. Already a powerful song on Tormato, Yes's performance of it became supercharged. After almost two hours of continual *oomph*, it didn't seem possible for Yes to crank the energy up any higher, but they did it. Bassist Chris Squire seems to be the central powerhouse, using his dynamic bass lines to urge White on to new rhythmic heights.
"Your Move" gave the audience a chance to do a concerted clapalong, led by Squire and Wakeman. "All Good People" received a sort of blues treatment in White's accenting -- as for Squire, his patterns got even more intricate. Besides, Squire could barely sit still long enough to play a walking bass line: his hands are too well-trained to those convoluted yet funky constructions which have often been imitated by other bassists.
The absence of props on this tour marks a change to a more basic presentation for Yes. In the past they have utilized highly stylized stage constructions, usually patterned after Roger Dean's cover art. The set-up of the stage this time around centered attention on the stage, which revolved throughout each song (except for "Clap").
Yes retired to their dressing rooms after two hours amidst a thunderous standing ovation, and I *mean* thunderous -- the applause and cheering reached a painfully high point as the band left the stage. The crowd kept up that level of sound, and made even more noise when the band returned.
The audience was up and dancing when Yes kicked into their encore, "Roundabout." Wakeman again led the clapalong when he wasn't busy playing, and seemed to be quite happy to be with Yes again as a band member. Signals flew between White, Howe and Anderson to stretch the ending of the song: get loose and be crazy was the sign, and that's exactly what happened. Yes's first Top 40 single and their best-known song crashed to a close and brought the audience to its feet for another standing ovation.
Going through individual performances would be tedious. Suffice it to say that Yes sounded as professional and efficient as they ever have in concert, and that the solos were generally inventive and intriguing. Steve Howe still has his quirks, as Anderson once commented. But the ovation he received after "Clap" indicated that the crowd enjoyed those quirks. "I think Steve likes playing Kalamazoo more than any of us," Anderson added when the applause died down. Certainly, Kalamazoo will welcome Yes again.
I saw YES play in Kalamazoo, MI and the house was packed!!!!
I didn't think the stage was too cramped and with the white carpet it looked very "clean" to me!! Alan White's wood grain Ludwigs sounded real nice. Hurray for "Power Toms (quite different than the previous tours multi colored "North" Drum sound) Steve Howe had about a dozen guitars on stands that looked (and sounded) great. Rick used his "Keytar" during his solo!! Squire's "Rick" sounded great too!! I have quality photo's of this concert!!!!!!!! (cameras were allowed back then)