For the Yes ‘big band’ tour, there were just five nights in Britain, and this time I decided to catch them all, starting with the two concerts in Birmingham. My bed and breakfast accommodation was only a short taxi ride from the National Exhibition Centre and I arrived in good time to catch the techs in action during the final stage set up and check.
My seat was fairly far back in the north bank at the NEC, so not the best view. It was an enjoyable show, nonetheless. The eight-piece looked like gladiators entering the arena as the final strains of Stravinsky’s ‘Firebird’ subsided.
There was plenty of energy in the performance. ‘Yours is No Disgrace’ kicked off well, using the full resources at the disposal of the enlarged Yes. The set contained an even, alternating spread of ’70s and ’80s material, but only two cuts from the new Union album, which appeared to have divided opinion within the band as much as the audience.
It was also marvellous to hear such an extravagantly orchestrated version of ‘Awaken’ – for the first time in 14 years, as far as I was concerned. I returned to my accommodation buzzing, and very much looking forward to the coming four nights.
My 2nd yesshow and probably my favourite of all time. Seeing chris Squire and Trevor Rabin for the first time just blew me away. It was great seeing the circular centre stage too giving us a chance to see each band member. I can remember being quite anti Howe/Wakeman/Bruford at the time as i prefered the Yes West line up. Awaken sounded awesome. I've never heard it sound better live than this performance and i'm pretty sure i remember seeing Squire with a fag in his mouth whilst playing roundabout and resting it thru the head of his bass. Great stuff.