ok. so i dont remember much. a mixture of a couple of shots of premium scotch and some other mind altering substances have conspired to block all attempts at remembering many details. i do however remember getting up with my fd Dino and walking around the outside of the floor seats while they played Awaken. that was VERY memorable! we were about 15th row on the left as i recall and the sound seemed ok from there. i do remember thinking 'will Steve hit Trevor with a few picks in the back of the head whilst T. soloed.' alas, peace reigned supreme.
This show was also the first of a few shows I was to see on this tour. I remember my buddy Steve and I got to the Dome early in the afternoon and were able to venture onto the floor while the road crew put the finishing touches on the stage set-up. We both were aghast when we saw how the Dome was configured for the show. The circular stage was placed far too close to the skytent which supposedly cuts the Dome in half for most of their concerts. Just a horrendous scenario from the get go. Why on earth this show wasn't at The Gardens I'll never know.
Anyways, after heading to my apartment for pre-show festivities we made our way back to the Dome and waited for the night's event to unfold. Our floor seats were abysmal as I was unable to see a damn thing. The circular stage was too high and I would've needed a recliner to view the show. We then went to the stands which were somewhat full, though in this cavernous environ a crowd of 25,000 would've been needed to make it look full. You could barely hear the band as we slowly crept our way up the steps one section at a time. We finally settled ourselves in the same row as Gowan and his buddies. Hard to believe that being in close proximity to Larry would be the highlight of the show but it's true.
I remember being so upset at this show and wondered whether to see any other shows in the next few weeks. Well, Buffalo was great in a true, perfect setting for an "In The Round" show. Rochester too! Finger Lakes was the best though with the split stage and a beautiful summer evening.
Of the 4 Union shows I saw, this was the first and by far the least satisfying. Problem number one was the venue-- Toronto's Skydome is a *vast* stadium, likely the largest venue on the Union tour in terms of sheer physical size-- and this night Yes were horrendously under-powered for this show in terms of the sound system. Half way up the stands, the sound simply *ended*, it was possible to hear people coughing and crinkling plastic soda cups several rows back. The round stage set up was nullified by the presence of a huge curtain cutting the stadium in half--the "Skytent" configuration, used when concert attendence is expected to be less than half of the stadiums 60,000+ maximum event seating. As to how the band played, I honestly can't say, I didn't hear much, and the tape I made through a chintzy walkman type of recorder bears me out. One thing though--- The critic for the Toronto Sun stated:
"The least successful numbers, predictably, were from the band's upcoming Union album. Both Shock To the System and a ragged Dangerous paled by comparison to the older material."
Since the album had yet to be released, I don't know where he got the "Dangerous" reference, but it *absolutely* was NOT played on this night.
Toronto Sun John Sakamoto
Sound, Yes, but no fury
For an event that smacked of Bigness, last night's Yes show was, in one way, frustratingly small.
The eight-man configuration that crowded the stage at the Skydome featured every important member to have passed through the venerable prog-rock outfit in the past 23 years.
With two keyboardists, two guitarists, and two drummers, this was the Noah's Ark of rock bands.
But despite its best efforts, the band was badly handicapped by a tinny sound system that would have trouble filling Massey Hall, let alone the massive confines of the EnormoDome. It was like listening to Beethoven's Fifth on a transistor radio.
None of which bothered the 14,000 loyal fans, who started cheering from the opening, somewhat wobbly notes of Yours Is No Disgrace, and stopped the show more than once with standing ovations.
IN PERFECT SYNC
In fact, last night's crowd was less an audience than a community, and that's ultimately what made the concert special. Despite the annoying sound problems - you could practically see the notes evaporate as they got halfway across the floor - there were more than a few moments when everyone on stage was in perfect sync.
And You and I, which closed out the first 65-minute set, featured some intimate acoustic guitar work by Steve Howe and Trevor Rabin, not to mention a harmonica solo, of all things.
I've Seen All Good People was even better, as the band hit its stride, navigating the song's tricky tempo changes with ease.
But the sound vacuum sucked a lot of grandness out of other numbers. On Heart of the Sunrise, it was virtually impossible to hear either drummer Alan White or Bill Bruford. And the banks of keyboards surrounding Rick Wakeman and Tony Kaye sounded muffled, as did Chris Squire's bass. Only frontman Jon Anderson, who was in fine voice, consistently came through loud and clear.
BAND RELIES ON PRECISION
Although Yes' trademark 15-minute songs suggest a lot of aimless noodling, the band relies more on precision than improvisation. Even the duel between White and Bruford that kicked off the second set was less a drum solo than a composition.
The least successful numbers, predictably, were from the band's upcoming Union album. Both Shock To the System and a ragged Dangerous paled by comparison to the older material.
All in all, enough glorious moments to make Yes' return a memorable one - at least what you could hear of it.