Poor Trevor Horn. Despite his having become one of the world's biggest record producers, he still has to live with the infamy of this tour - at least among those of us who were unlucky enough to see it. It was a long time ago, but the disappointment has never left me.
"Drama" wasn't in the stores yet and I found out only about a week before the show that Rick had left the band. The night of the big tour opener, the local paper ran a picture of Steve from a good six or seven years earlier with the cutline: "Rick Wakefield appears with Yes tonight." No kiddin', that's what it said under Steve's pic. Things looked a little bad at that point, but I had no idea just how bad they'd be.
On the way to the show I heard Q107 playing some tracks off "Drama" and I thought, "Funny, that doesn't sound like Jon, but at least the songs rock."
Then, when the band finally came out to play (from where I sat, the Gardens still looked about half empty when they came on), I thought, "Funny, Jon sure looks different, but at least he's here."
It hadn't dawned on me until "Parallels" that this wasn't Jon Anderson. And, mister, this guy sure wasn't Jon Anderson.
I'll give credit where it's due: Trevor must have been awfully brave to face all those Yes fans night after night, who, like me, were probably shocked and saddened to see Jon gone from the band. And it must have been doubly hard for him when the fans started howling for his blood upon realizing that he just couldn't sing in Jon's register.
Several times during the show Trevor seemed to be trying to catch his breath or clear his throat after straining on those high notes. It was embarrassing during "And You And I" when he would miss a few lines here or there, but it was downright pathetic when he was bent over clutching his side during "Starship Trooper", leaving Chris to carry most of the vocals alone.
Well, I might have forgiven Trevor's troubles if the everything else had gone perfectly. No such luck.
The setlist was a disaster: Four classic Yes songs botched but good, and a whole lot of new stuff. I did like the running bass line and the guitar arpeggios from "Tempus Fugit" though.
The circular stage was a sad re-hash of the excellent one they had the previous year. This time it was all one revolving piece and it lacked all the class and polish of the earlier tour's.
Yes, Chris's bass broke down and it was probably the biggest show stopper among a great many that night. When it happened he just looked over at Alan and shrugged. Steve and Alan tried to come to the rescue, but why, oh, why, couldn't Steve have jumped into an acoustic solo instead of making all of us sit on our hands waiting for Chris's roadie to get things fixed. Geoff Downes was no help whatsoever.
In fact, the less said about Downes the better. His solo was an atrocious techno-pop thing that he seemed to improvise for 30 seconds whie recording it, then played it back to us while he just stood there. Honestly, during the second part of his solo, he did not play. This was strange because he's actually a pretty decent keyboardist - no Rick or Patrick, obviously, but okay.
Things were going really badly. It seemed like the band was trying to compensate for just how badly the show was going by upping the volume. I like heavy metal as much as the next guy, but the crashing sounds they were producing put me off buying the "Drama" album for many years.
I wasn't the only one not enjoying the show, there were some older veteran Yes fans in front of me who looked seriously pissed off. The only high point of the evening was "The Clap" which Steve played with wonderful dedication.
The last straw of the evening came at the end, with the lighting. Instead of using the very successful star configuration hanging over the stage as they had done the previous year, this year there were four stupid boxes that hung down, with powerful lights attached that blasted the audience at intervals of every few seconds. Fine, except the lights on our corner of the Gardens didn't work. Everyone else in the audience was being "flashed" by this very amateurish-looking gimmick, but not us. Dismal.
I stood for the encore, but my heart wasn't in it, and a few people around me were sitting, and in some cases, actually booing.
As they left the stage for the last time Steve said to the crowd: "See you next summer!" Somebody behind me yelled, "Not f***in' likely!"
That was the last Yes show I attended.
A few years later Yes (West) returned to town and I understand they actually apologized for the Drama tour. Fat lot of good it did. I was never interested in Trevor Rabin's Yes, though I can appreciate what a fine musician he is. He just wasn't Yes. To me Yes wasn't Yes with him aboard, just as Yes wasn't Yes with the Buggles in place of Jon and Rick. And I kinda like the Buggles, in that tongue-firmly-in-cheek way they had.
I guess the "Drama" show tainted Yes for me for life, and now I feel just a little too old to be forking out 80 bucks per seat just to see these even older guys try to recapture those bygone days. Wonderful as it all was (the music, the imagery), you can never go back again. Sometimes you can't really get there to begin with.
I attended the opening night of the Drama tour in Toronto with trepidation. I knew Jon & Rick were gone, no doubt a capable keyboard player would be substituting, but my worry was who would be replacing the *irreplaceable* Anderson. Sure enough, from a vocal standpoint the show was a great letdown, Horn just couldn't sing the classics with convincing conviction. I chalked much of it up to opening night jitters, and, some 15 shows later, went to Buffalo NY for the show. Unfortunately there was no difference, if anything he sang even worse.
My brother and I bussed down from Sudbury to catch the show (four hours). Now, Yes didn't get a lot of play in Sudbury, so we really had no idea what we were in store for. We got to Toronto, and immediately went to Sam the Record Man to pick up the latest album. We then headed over to Maple Leaf Gardens, sat down, removed the cellophane off the album, and found out that Jon and Rick weren't in the band. Five minutes later the show started.
The Drama Tour opener in Toronto was my first Yes concert. Not an ideal live experience with the band, but still, it was my first. Please accept that any criticisms or disparagements contained in this entry are in relation to a standard set by a classic Yes line up. This concert was better than any I have seen by any other band, and I have seen a few.
I have been a Yesfan since I was 13 and heard Roundabout on AM radio. That song really stood out at a time when there was a great deal of good music to be found on the airwaves.
By the time I managed to move to a city that Yes would come to, there was no Yes. There was Jon and Vangelis and alot of rumors. The news that Yes had hired two Buggles to replace Jon and Rick made me laugh most bitterly and curse the carelessness of the decision. Asking babes to fill the shoes of two of the few true giants in modern music.
Still, I was at the record store the day it went on sale. I listened. I enjoyed. This was not Yes. Musically exciting and filled with power, it seemed like Chris, Steve and Alan were unleashing something that had been held back, something that was now needed. The lyrics were not Yes and the vocals were weak. A grand effort made by a three fingered hand, compensating brilliantly for missing parts.
When tickets went on sale, I was waiting. This was going to be good no matter what. When the band took the stage, it was very easy to see how things would go. Chris, Steve and Alan by their body language, where ready to blow the roof right off the old Gardens. As I was about to learn, when these guys are pumped they are incomparable. Geoff and Trevor were understandably tentative and obviously, right out of their league. Songs from the new album were more exciting than any new songs delivered live since. The 90125 songs came close, but as stated, the guys were on a mission. The old songs were a different matter. The first of these,as I recall was Yours IND. Simply put, Mr. Horn could not do it In fairness, you must ask, who could? Indeed, if Jesus Christ himself had walked across Lake Ontario, up the street and into the Gardens, he would have had his difficulties. You do not replace that voice and that persona with an average singer. The old songs were an exercise in embarrassment for this man.
The audience was generally kind, though instead of a spontaneous ovation at the end of an old favorite, there was politeness...(Toronto eh). I heard no booing, though as the show went on there was some grumbling between songs. Finally at the end of And YAI, as modest applause turned to a moment of silence, my friend next to me bellowed an anguished "Where's Jon?" No one echoed the call, mercifully. No one even turned to look. Just silence. Frankly, something needed to be said, and people seemed content to let it go at "Where's Jon?"
An interesting aside to this was Chris losing sound on his bass during one of the new songs. I do not recall which one, but his absence became apparent and Steve kept things going with some improvisation and Alan never missed a beat. This went on for a few minutes and I recall Steve looking over at Geoff as if to say "Hey, Play Something!" (where's Rick when you need him, or Patrick, or even Tony for Christ sake!) Finally Chris walked, or more accurately, strutted up near the front of the stage (front to me anyway, as it was in the round). A trap door opened and out popped a new bass to the surprise and delight of everyone. Chris then proceeded to pound away most impressively as he strutted back to his area. All of this was very cool, I'm sure many thought he was simply changing guitars and making a show of it for our amusement. In some ways this was the high point of the show, along with Steve's solo, and the rising, rotating drum kit during Alan's very impressive solo.
Geoff did a keyboard solo too. Compared to what Yesfans are accustomed to, it was unimpressive.
I must note that I attended this concert with three others. Two were Yes fanatics like myself. Third had only ever heard Roundabout on the radio, and knew nothing of Yes. This fellow was absolutely beside himself throughout the concert. He was amazed with what he was seeing. He was wide eyed the whole time and it seemed like every five minutes he would turn to me and yell "HOLY FUCK!!"
I took some comfort in his amazement This guy loved what he was seeing and had no idea what he was missing because of Jon or Rick's absence.
I just had the opportunity to listen to the infamous opening night from the Drama tour in Toronto. I was mistaken, Chris' bass didn't break down in the middle of his solo, rather it snapped right before he began his bass riff in Tempus Fugit. That's when Steve and Alan lurched into a three minute spontaneous jam whilst Fish paced around waiting for his understage roadie to fix it. Once Fish got his bass from the 'hand in the floor', he immediately began on his riff - and things continued as if nothing had happened.