Having found an audience recording of this show, I'm happy to hear that the Starship energy arrives intact. Rabin tends more for sheer sound than notes, no doubt wishing to distinguish himself from Howe, and this confounds the expectations of an ear accustomed to Steve's smaller-room sensibility. Still, they prove themselves a valid vehicle for Yes energy, and Trevor is a full partner in that.
Also of special note is the "Whitefish" medley -- an exciting and absorbing high point which justifies whatever grandstanding Squire brought to it that night. Special moment: Trevor adding the "Khatru" riff behind Jon & Chris singing "Yes, Yes" -- tying three different Yes eras into one ... even the UNION tour didn't do that ;)
Find out what Sunsinger's been smoking, and get me some of it!
Gentle Giant toured with Yes nearly a decade earlier, for the Relayer tour. By 1984, Gentle Giant were no more.
Yes, the "opening act" was a set of Warner Bros. cartoons, an idea that's up there with Rush walking onstage to the Three Stooges theme for sheer brilliant lunacy. I specifically remember the one with the classic line, "Never send a monnnnstah to do an eeeeevil scientist's work!"
And it was a ... really good ... show. I can't go as far as "great," because, though the 90125 material rawked, and TR (not to be confused with TR-i) is a kickass guitarist, he lacked (for want of a better word) the subtlety for some of Steve Howe's material. This was particularly, and painfully, evident on the final movement of "Starship Trooper" which I thought descended into pointless shredding instead of Howe's extraordinarily tasteful guitar on various the live versions I've heard.
Kaye was something of a revelation. I knew he was good live, because I'd seen him with Bowie during the Station to Station tour, but I'd never heard him doing Yes material live. Wakeman is officially my third-favorite yes keyboardist, after Moraz and Kaye: he really did kick serious keyboard bootay this night.
Good lord ... was it really twenty-two years ago...?
This isn't a putdown to Rabin; he's a fine, fine guitarist. But his style is different from Howe's.
As for the "new" material ... The opening of "Cinema" had me screaming. What a great way to open a show! Even the much-maligned "Owner of a Lonely Heart" really worked well live, with the weirdly-syncopated stabs filling the Cow Palace with shocking noise.
Yeah. A really good show.
Its not true what the reviewer before me says about Bugs Bunny cartoons showing in place of a warmup band. For this night and the concert at the cow palace before this, the band "Gentle Giant" did the warmup sets and were great. The YesShows were outstanding as well.
It had been at a friend's house that I had finally come to be introduced to that band called YES; he had a copy of YESSONGS that he happened to play one day. It was that version of "Starship Trooper" that caught my attention, clearly a band worth investigating! One record led to another, and I was soon a great fan of yet another band that didn't exist -- for this was 1982, and YES had since vanished into the ether.
Enter 1983, and 90125 arrives. I later heard that the band had originally been named CINEMA, and that is the name I call it today. At the time, though, the question was simply whether to go see this band in concert or not. I weighed this grave decision as only an 18-year-old might: True, it wasn't YES as I had heard on vinyl; there was no doubting that. And I could stick to that principle and be true to yet another band that no longer existed. Or, I could appreciate this band -- by whatever name -- for what it was, and have a concert to go to. Repeated play of the album suggested it could be worthwhile, so I went with the second choice.
The opening act was to be the currently popular band Berlin, but they had been removed from the bill -- reportedly due to audience reaction. Their replacement: Bugs Bunny cartoons.
That's right; Bugs Bunny cartoons, projected onto a large screen over the stage.
This seeming incongruity yielded a high point in my life: the experience of watching three cartoons [one a personal favorite] in an audience of several thousand happy people, a great throwback to the days of moviehouses as a communal experience. People laughed & howled together, and booed the villain as the sound was pumped through the Cow Palace PA ... it would be hard to imagine a more homey, uniting experience. THAT was their opening act! -- and, in a sense, a gift to the audience, as if we were gathered in someone's very large living room.
Then the stage went dark, and we were treated to a series of laser effects -- I suppose that was just the 'concert thing' du jour, as I didn't see any of these effects on later tours. Green rays shot up to the rafters, forming a film that contained the outline of a rotating globe -- the Earth, of course -- with continents outlined, all in green. Cheap by today's standards, I suppose! This morphed into a rotating 90125 logo, and the stage lights came on as the band began the show.
How was it? Well, you don't have to ask: it's all there on the 9012Live video, although frankly I don't recall all the solo sections. It didn't matter; the old material was redone in like sound as the new, and the new tended to sound a bit alike. As i said, it wasn't to be compared with classic YES, although it was done well enough. Except for one part, which in my opinion redeemed them ...
Security at the Cow Palace restricted everyone to their assigned seats throughout the show, but there was one part they could not contain. Anyone who was there would have to remember: when the Würm chords started in "Starship Trooper". People were just pouring down the aisles toward the stage, and I was among them. you see, as those three chords repeated over and over, the lighting rig above the stage slowly lowered toward the stage, especially toward the wings. It's hard to desctibe the effect, but the more the music increased in intensity, the lower the lights got, and this just emphasized the acute energy being created by the band -- white hot lights looming ever closer, the music increasing in frenzy and fire, and these great banks of steel folded down over the stage like enormous wings -- if the stage had exploded I would not have been surprised. In a sense I suppose it did -- with the obligatory "Roundabout" encore. But they had already peaked, connected, exceeded their mere mortal selves, if only briefly. I doubt a tape would convey anything of this; something had happened that was more than music.
The Cow Palace is a huge concrete pavilion, no more graceful than the name would suggest; in my experience, it is notable for a much-too-echoey sound and the extrememly bad neighborhood in which it is located. But that night it became something else: perhaps not exactly a 'magical fairyland' as Jon might suggest, but special all the same.