35 years, 5 months and 27 days ago
Wednesday, December 9, 1987
Maple Leaf Gardens
Got into YES because of 90125 then fell in love with the old stuff. I have to say I enjoy both to this day and depending on my mood at the time, adjust accordingly.
YES at MLG this night was a little odd. There certainly wasn't the buzz or excitement compared to the 90125 tour being generated (ha! ha!). Most of the Upper Grey seating was empty due to the lack of promotion that the show actually had.
On the music side of things, they were sounding tight, crisp and somewhat clear. Not bad considering the Gardens always had shit for acoustics. My buddies and I really enjoyed the show but by this time had started getting anxious to see Steve Howe and Wakeman back in the fold. This feeling subsided in '89.
Saw the band during Big Gen tour here in Toronto. I sat watching the concert and couldn't help thinking that it would be nice if Trevor would play Steves parts from the old songs at least a bit more like Steve. I know he could if he wanted to, just as a favor to the old-timers. Also, no Rick. Definitely something missing there. Hey, it was Yes and it was good, but there was none of that special Yes magic that their live performance brings. Then Jon came to the front of the stage as the rest of the band sort of disappeared. He came out onto a kind of walkway that brought him out into the floor seats. He began to talk (and lucidly too) of how we all might be perceived by our cousins from other worlds. What might they think of how we treat our planet and each other?
This was at a time when Reagan and Gorbechov were meeting to discuss disarmament and the cold war we all grew up with seemed to be coming to an end. Jon mentioned that we all have hope for peace in the world and that leaders were talking. He peered out at us and in that ever optimistic, hopeful voice said "Could happen ya know...it really could happen". He then did an a cappella Holy Lamb. While not my favorite, his delivery of this song on this occasion was one of the high points in the history of pop music. The emotion felt all around was incredibly strong. I knew better than to even try to fight back tears.
When the song was over and the ovation finally began to subside, some house lights seemed to be up and I took the opportunity to look around and see if anyone else appeared as moved as I was. I didn't have to look far. Seated next to me was a bearded, tattooed, pro wrestler/bouncer looking behemoth. He seemed to be having trouble breathing , his chest heaved in a strange way. I looked at him in time to see a huge teardrop appear and run down his cheek. He fixed me with a look, and while I expected to hear 'What you lookin'at?', he just smiled and said "Faaawwwk". Memorable to me because he just looked so much like one who has rarely been effected in such a way. ( I know, my stereotyping on appearance)
So, way to go Jon. When it was needed you strapped the whole show to your back and lifted it up beyond where we really had a right to expect. Every Yes concert seems to have at least one special moment, sometimes band generated, sometimes an individual. Some concerts have more than one. Some are 2hr. special moments.
I had been a rabid Yes fan ever since 1978/79, when my hometown first got FM rock radio. While most of my friends were getting into the Village People (yikes!) and the general disco scene, I was getting into the finer points of progressive rock. I followed the Yes concert scene from a distance, and experienced quite a pang of sorrow when I heard that the band dissolved after Drama. However, when I heard 90125, I thought "Hey, there may be some life left in this old dinosaur!" I was even more excited when I bought my first ticket to a Yes concert, the Toronto installment of The Big Tour.
Looking back on it, though, I was more disappointed than I cared to let on at the time. I wanted the cosmic, magical experience of songs like CTTE, but I didn't get it. I wanted to hear an orgy of multiple guitars and keyboards, but they were nowhere to be found. I wanted the grandiose stage design, but the setup seemed to be for a straight ahead rock band. Trevor Rabin is quite a good guitarist, but his insistence on using only one guitar of AYAI struck me as his attempt at cutting corners. On top of it all, Jon seemed to be just going through the motions. He talked about "our cousins on the other side of the universe" before he launched into Holy Lamb, but it seemed out of place. He talked about doing Nous Sommes du Soleil with Chris "for old times' sake", but it seemed more liked a desperate attempt to keep his spirits up. It was nice to see Tony Kaye back with the band, but I don't remember him really having a solo spot - he just provided some keyboard acompaniment and fill-ins during Solly's Beard.
Most of all, it was Jon's mood (which seemed downright sullen, at times) which stuck with me. It was no surprise to me he left the band after the tour.
I remember they showed a Popeye cartoon at the start of the show and the crowd was going wild when Popeye popped open the can of spinach.
The concert was good too.