Yes, the support was a Bugs Bunny Cartoon, the one with the big orange monster, and Bugs does his hair. I can't recall any other cartoons. Myself and some mates from school went, and a group of blokes came and sat in front of us, looking a bit dodgy, I suddenly realised it was the guys from Frankie Goes To Hollywood (minus singer Holly), and Trevor Horn. I got them to sign my brochure, though Trevor wanted to hurry it up as he wanted to watch the show. They were at number 1 and 2 in the singles charts at the time, I seem to recall, and they all seemed to enjoy the gig, really getting into it. They left to go backstage around the time of Starship Trooper. This was my first Yes gig, I recall the lighting rig coming down during Starship Trooper, and clapping along so hard my hands hurt.
Thursday, April 4, 2013 9:20 AM
This was a concert I went to with distinctly mixed feelings. The ‘90125’ album, while undoubtedly well crafted, powerful and gorgeously produced, had taken Yes music in the wrong direction for me. But I recalled making a fatal error in bypassing the ‘Tormato’ tour. It turned out to be one of the band’s all-time highlights, even if the album that sired it had as many question marks as pluses attached to it. I wasn’t going to make the same mistake again. What’s more, Jon Anderson was back in the band after the vocal lows of the ‘Drama’ tour in England, I’d never heard Tony Kaye live, and Trevor Rabin was clearly an accomplished musician.
So off I trotted to Wembley Arena once more, accompanied by my good friend Stuart Roberts, who had also seen Yes with me in ’77 and ’80. He ran a concert and stage lighting company in Worthing in his spare time, and as someone who could take or leave Yes’ music he was rather more interested in the stage set than the gig, even managing to fall asleep during ‘And You and I’, due to a few too many late nights. Given the volume level of this show, that was quite an achievement!
The concert itself was high impact – creating a panoramic wall of sound from a huge platform (I was in the gallery on Rabin’s side, viewing the band slightly from the rear and quite a bit of the backstage set-up), enhanced by spectacular lights and lasers. This was grandiose stadium rock, but with some of the old Yes finesse worked in, thankfully.
The short instrumental ‘Cinema’, which I like a lot, lost impact while the sound was being fine-tuned at the beginning of the concert. ‘Leave It’ needed vocal tapes to replicate the complex vocal overdubs of the studio version. ‘Yours is No Disgrace’ brought us back to past glories, while ‘Hold On’ set out the New Yes stall forcefully.
Tony Kaye’s short solo was largely textural, while Rabin’s scaled, metallic sheen on ‘Solly's Beard’ showed off his musicianship rather better than some of the screaming, blues-inflected breaks on old numbers (‘Disgrace’ and ‘Starship Trooper’, particularly). Not using an acoustic guitar on ‘And You and I’ was a crime, and indicated that at this stage in his career the new Yesman lacked a certain empathy for the subtler dynamics of the old material.
Of the new pieces, ‘Hearts’ worked most effectively, combining elements of the past and present. It definitely felt and sounded like Yes. By contrast, ‘City of Love’, with its grinding rhythm, harsh streetwise lyrics and twisted dissonance is, in traditional terms, as un-Yeslike a song as we had heard to date. Oddly, it came off well in concert – while perhaps indicating just how far the band was straying from its roots. I admired that, in a peculiar way.
On the way out, I heard someone comment to a friend, “That was an amazing experience… but was it Yes?” I felt a bit like that, too, and I couldn’t give an unambiguous answer to the question. The young’uns there clearly loved the concert. Yes supporters of old were more mixed in their feelings, it seems. But undoubtedly Jon Anderson, Chris Squire and Alan White gave strong performances and the sheer determination and craft of YesWest could not be denied. Afterwards I wondered why I hadn't got a ticket for the following night. Somehow, though I certainly enjoyed it, once was enough.
I remember that the concert left me feeling a little bit cold. Without Steve Howe it just wasn't the same. The light show was spectacular though and the stage itself was colossal, allowing Trevor Rabin the chance to run about a lot! The 90125 songs definitely fared better than the old material in my opinion - only to be expected really - with highlights being City of Love, Changes and Hearts and the band played extremely well. It was all just a bit too ....clinical perhaps? Didn't stop me going the following night though!
I recall that the support on the 90125 tour in the UK were Bugs Bunny and Roadrunner cartoons - great stuff.