31 years, 11 months and 11 days ago
Saturday, June 29, 1991
London, United Kingdom
Saturday, April 6, 2013 1:04 AM
The first and second nights at Wembley were the strongest in this leg of the Union tour, and I was fortunate to have good, side-on terrace tickets for both of them. Though the sound in a large arena like this can be a little more ‘boxy’ further up, you get a good view of the in-the-round set up.
This evening the big band Yes squeezed every bit of musical emotion out of a take on ‘Awaken’ that clocks in at around 19 minutes, as against the 15-minute album version.
The spacey harp and keys middle section provides both a breather and a contrast to the growing tension and release of the main themes in this expanded arrangement – particularly the fabulous climax on synthesised organ, augmented by Howe’s almost trumpet-like guitar counterpoints and Rabin’s quiet but fast background figuration that provides a come-down into the conclusion.
Sometimes Rabin’s manic and mannered style, seemingly alternating bits of Mahavishnu, Vai, di Meola and blues, grates with me. But tonight, outside his stand-out ‘moments’, he seemed to blend better with the ensemble sound.
The overall power and energy of tonight's concert was wonderful, perhaps aided and abetted by the knowledge that they were recording – though in the end, the hoped-for live album did not emerge.
A note on the bootlegs: The radio show was broadcast in America on Westwood One's Superstars Concert Series, hosted by former MTV VJ J.J. Jackson. I have official copies of the original discs (2 discs, with the original commercials and rap sheet). Fortunately, he only talks over the audience applause. The three single-disc boots are all likely unofficial copies of that radio show recorded off-air. Even on the original, the sound mix gets increasingly "muddy" on the second disc.
The 2-disc Say Yes boot is an audience recording, and as is typical of battery-driven cassettes of the day, the songs tend to get slightly higher and faster (as the tape heads slow down). Its not all that noticeable until one compares to the SSC show or really knows the original pitch.
Strange the odd things one remembers..........Before the gig started and whilst the auditorium was filling up, a voice came over the P.A. 'Would Nina Wakeman please go directly to the backstage area, Rick's clean underpants are in your handbag!!!'
I remember the round stage would stop spinning for all over the Chris Squire solo, so we were in front of him and were very lucky!!!.
Well, folks, back from another bootleg foray to the vicinity of NYU in New York City. Having heard so much good stuff about it, I got Say Yes, the Union bootleg and it is as good as everyone says it is. Listening to it, I was sort of reliving that whole Union thing. In some songs Bill isn't as quiet as you would think, like Yours is no Disgrace -- especially in the introduction. You can always hear him because his whole kit except the snare is electronic. Alan really is over-thunderous. As a matter of fact I am hearing the 'other' musician more and more (Trevor is quietly arpeggiating in the quiet section of Awaken, etc.) The drum duet is pretty good, better than I remembered it. Maybe it's the recording but Lift Me Up doesn't sound so good to me live, but Awaken sounds great.