This was one of my many YES experiences and what I remember most about this night was that we arrived at the Forum with no tickets, stood around until about 10 minutes prior to showtime, scored amazing seats, walked into the arena as the house lights dimmed, heard "Firebird" crank up and settled in. It was a real treat to see everyone playing together, right from the opener, "Your's is No Disgrace." I must, however, temper my enthusiasm for the show with this observation: After listening to a tape of the Hartford CT show of 4-18-91, there seemed to be a considerable drop-off in energy between that set and this one, 1 month later. This seems to confirm suspicions we had at that time, and which have been subsequently confirmed in interviews with the band, that "personality conflicts" did arise along the way. But, Anderson's comments about the Forum version of "Awaken" are accurate, at least from my memory. I was never crazy about the piece, always opting for "Close to the Edge" as the best of their extended works. However, "Awaken" was brilliantly performed on this night and certainly made a believer out of me. All in all, it was worth the price of admission just to see all of the guys together on one stage. Too bad the Banks "guest spot" didn't work out!
PROLOGUE: This concert was, without a doubt, the greatest musical experience I have ever witnessed! I discovered ‘Close To The Edge’ in 1975 and couldn't believe how incredible Yes music was… the album got played 10 times in a row that day. Naturally, from there I went out and got everything I could find on Yes…
When reading a music paper in 1991, I was astonished to see that Yes were booked for Wembley in London with the line-up being Jon Anderson, Bill Bruford, Steve Howe, Tony Kaye, Trevor Rabin, Chris Squire, Rick Wakeman and Alan White…Phew! This was an event I simply could not miss and started preparing to see Yes in concert for the first time in my life. More dates were soon announced and so, with my wife, Cathy, we were off to look for America.
NOTES: “Yours Is No Disgrace” proved to be an incredible opening number, but of course, “Awaken” was the absolute crown in the jewel. As Jon Anderson states in ‘Yes Magazine’ - Volume 5, Number 3:
“I remember doing The Forum in L.A. and playing “Awaken” the best I’ve ever heard it in my life. And a light came right through the ceiling and into that auditorium and covered the band and the audience with pure energy. It was the most extraordinary experience of my whole career… whoever was there that night saw it, felt it, experienced it. And we performed “Awaken” as an eight-piece – that was the true Union of this band.”
I was actually expecting more from the ‘Union’ album – why had they neglected tracks such as “I Would Have Waited Forever”, “Miracle Of Life” and “Take The Water To The Mountain”? Years later it was revealed that most of the band were not proud of the ‘Union’ album. Thankfully, the tour was quite to the contrary…
REVIEW - an edited version of what I wrote for New Zealand ‘RIPITUP’ Magazine, June 1991: It was a warm Wednesday night in L.A. and The Forum was full to capacity. At 8:20 the house lights dimmed and Stravinsky’s “Firebird Suite” played as the audience of around 20,000 welcomed the eight Yes men to the center of the sphere. The circular stage began to revolve as they launched into a lengthy, intense version of “Yours Is No Disgrace”, which peaked with some very impressive guitar solo swapping between Steve Howe and Trevor Rabin. “Rhythm Of Love” was next up and then Mr. Howe took the spotlight for his amazing acoustic renditions of “Clap” and “Mood For A Day”, his nimble fingers meticulously picking the notes with the crowd clapping in time.
“Shock To The System” was one of only two songs taken from the new album and was powerfully performed in the true spirit of Yes. Chris Squire then strapped on his trusty Rickenbacker and the warming sounds of “Heart Of The Sunrise” were recreated with all the intensity and grace of it’s original form on ‘Fragile’. Response to “Owner Of A lonely Heart” was rapturous and following that, the beautiful “And You And I”. Jon Anderson was at his most angelic, singing finely as ever.
After intermission a drum duet between Alan White and Bill Bruford began with Bolero-like beats, building up to a thunderous climax. The group then went into “Hold On” and another crowd favorite “Your Move / All Good People”, which evoked entire audience participation.
The revolving stage ensured an ever-changing view, and above that were eight mechanical claw-like arms, which would lower and surround the band like a pod at the appropriate moment. The musicianship was exceptional in demanding songs like “Changes” and “Long Distance Runaround” and the solo performances were equally stunning. Trevor Rabin was draped in an American flag, as Jon announced Trevor’s official US citizenship, which had been granted that day. Rabin then put on a masterful display of guitar playing for his instrumental “Solly’s Beard”, incorporating pieces of “Star Spangled Banner” and “Dueling Banjoes”. Mr. Squire demonstrated his supreme bass abilities to the full in “The Fish” by scaling fast running arpeggios a
This was a great show beginning to end. The first time I saw Yes was in 77 and I remember thinking how can a group of guys get together and pull something like this off? Well on 5/15/91 they had an even larger ensemble and even tighter musicianship, amazing. It was an awesome show and quite fulfilling.
On a personal note the band gave out pewter YES medallions to all those that were disabled just for showing up. Some one took mine soon after the concert. When you’re in a wheel chair most people walk right over you, its great to be reached out to by people you don't even know. I look forward to more Yes shows.
I hope Yes continues to have great successes; they are fine gentlemen and deserve that.
Best regards: Sonny
mr. schu "bustermayhem.com"
i guess i was just sitting too close. it did not sound good to me. it was not what i thought it would be. it was all muddy. where were the good "union" songs? i wanted to see silent talking and the more we live-let go. it was nice to see awaken live. but, i had yet to see a yesshow that lived up to the 1st one i saw. maybe it was the drugs at the 1st one, i thought.... i too shelled out megabucks for this event. the highlights were as follows:
*trevor rabin/alan white & steve howe/bill bruford trade off in the middle section of yours is no disgrace.
*the drum solo
*rick wakeman soloing over the closing section of owner of a lonely heart
*seeing all 8 of them up there
It seemed like the San Diego show the night before was a warm-up for this one.They announced that it was kind of a homecoming for some of the band members. Trevor was naturalized as a U.S. citizen this day and the band wrapped him in an American flag as he sat on his stool for his solo (I think he even played some of the Star Spangled Banner). The "mega-band" was in top form. Jon admitted years later that the performance of Awaken on this night brought him to tears. You could feel something special at that show.
Reunion Tour / The Forum in Los Angeles - A Yes fan's dream come true! I shelled out major moolah for scalper seats and wound up on the first row off the floor...a wonderful vantage point. This show was the highlight of my concert going career. The biggest thrill and biggest disappointment of the show occurred during the same song. As soon as I recognized the intro to "Awaken" I went beserk! I never expected to hear this tune performed live again. Disappointment set in when I realized that Chris, with his triple-neck bass, would be on the opposite side of the stage from me for most of the tune. I was able to catch the outdoor version of the show 3 times, so needless to say my binoculars were trained on Chris for the duration of the tune. As previously mentioned, another highpoint of the Forum show was the Fragile 5 playing "Long Distance Runaround". Unfortunately it was dropped from the the outdoor shows to make room for "Lift Me Up", but at least I got to see it once!
PB: Well......I've told this story before. No the only thing was I was going to play the Forum in Los Angeles. I was asked by Tony Kaye would I like to play on a couple of tunes, the encore pieces, and I said yes, absolutely. My one stipulation was that it would not be kind of rehearsed or that no big deal was made of it, so it was kind of a spontaneous thing. So I was literally just going to be sitting in and they all agreed to that. I'll keep a long boring story very short, but come the day of the gig, after people were calling me about backstage passes, this thing had been announced on the radio. So all of a sudden it had become some sort of a big deal. Which I was really not pleased about and then what did happen was I didn't get to play and the reason was Steve Howe didn't want me to play. So I was extremely upset about this and I just thought it was kind of crazy because the other guys wanted me to. It was only two tunes at the end of the set, two encore pieces, Roundabout and Starship Trooper. So I kind of showed up. I didn't even want to bring a guitar. The whole premise was that there'd be a amplifier there, a guitar there, and a roadie to guide me to the stage. All I'd have to do is play. I mean no problem. There's no way it could have been competetive having never played with that particular lineup. There's no way I would have sounded particularly great but that wasn't the idea. I just wanted to do it for the fun of it but Steve Howe was dead against it so I didn't get to do it. I was very angry about it and was ready to hit somebody. Preferably Steve Howe. So..that was that (laughs).
JH: So it's safe to say you've never played with Steve Howe?
PB: I hardly know the guy actually. I've met him maybe two or three times.
JH: It's unusual he would feel that way.
PB: I was very surprised. I don't what the reason was at all. At the time I was very angry. From a simple little idea of me come sitting in with the band it all became a very big deal. People were coming up to me in the backstage bar asking me when I was going on. I had to say, well I'm not going on and it was all very unpleasant. I felt kind of insulted you know, but that was that.
SH: (chuckles) I've never heard anything about that at all. I don't remember being asked if Peter could join us, I'm absolutely sure I wouldn't have minded; what songs he was going to play on, and what was going to happen, I couldn't imagine. But I don't remember ever considering that, I'm sure if somebody if somebody said to me, look, Peter can come up and play I would have said, oh, what's he going to play, where's he going to play, and he's not going to play all night obviously, but where's he going to play? What song?
MOT: From what he said he was going to just play on the encore, 'Roundabout' and 'Starship Trooper'.
SH: (chuckles) I don't remember blanking that, and I'm laughing because it's incredible how the past comes back at you, but this isn't a bit of my past as far as I remember, no. I don't know anything about that, I don't remember anything about it...I don't see why I would have objected; there wasn't any problem between Peter and I...it would have been unusual for Yes to have anybody guest, I think that was very, very rare...did we ever have anybody guest with us? Not very often.
MOT: To be honest from you Peter was quite blatant; he said that 'I was told that Steve Howe prevented my from playing this show.'
SH: Well I'd love to know who actually told him that, because whoever that person was should talk to me, and I would like to talk to them, because it doesn't make any reasonable sense of why I'd do that.