This naughty teen sneaked into Walnut Creek amphitheater about 1pm. Yes showed up later in the afternoon in several limos. Eventually, all 8 members were on stage rehearsing CLOSE TO THE EDGE. No joke. Anderson, Rabin, Squire, and Howe vocal harmonies "ahhhh", dueling guitars in the solid time of change section, some drumming issues needed working out with Bruford and White, Wakeman organ solo, etc. Absolutely astounding, since it was rarely (if ever?) played during the Union shows. I would donate my left testicle to have a recording of the Union line up playing CTTE. Squire talked to a few of the venue staff from the stage, and Rabin sat with his baseball hat on in the grassy hill area during sound check. Got behind the sound board for sound check as well...what an experience. Highlights were Long Distance, Rabin Solo, White and Bruford Solo, Squire solo (subsonic bass boom included!), Changes, and Awaken. Awaken was the most profound live music experience I have ever had. Only 7 rows from the front, the lighting arms extended over the crowd with blue and light underwater effect during harp and organ part of Awaken...it was transcendent.
D. A. Payne
What? I actually forgot to pontificate on this one till now? Damn!
Aside from the endless time sucking struggle for survival maybe it's because all things Union, and subsequently Talk, were mixed blessings of such complexity. Might as well try now.
Did I like Union? Yes, so to speak. Even when all I knew was Union according to Arista [more on this next paragraph], its true finery could still be discerned and garbage filtered. At its best it represented another firm step on the journey ABWH charted, and even Big Generator hinted at, back toward what Yes originally stood for. It may well have been an "Onion", but the onion had more than a few sweet, juicy layers.
Did I think it on par with any "Trooper" Yes? When some years after its release I heard the original ABWH Union takes, before producer Elias and Arista got hold of and mangled them, absolutely. They were mindbending. Prior to that revelation I had some difficulty understanding why Wakeman was said to have tossed his official copy of Union out a Pensacola hotel window. Yes West' contribution definitely watered things down, but Union still seemed an album definable as Yes. Upon hearing those original demos I understood completely Rick's violent reaction. ABWH' original body of work for Union was worthy of a place beside GFTO and Relayer. Even after Arista's hatchet job it warranted some real excitement about the upcoming tour, irrespective of who would be on stage together.
Distance and other factors prevented my catching the first, in-the-round, leg. A disappointment, but I was fortunate enough to have seen the Tormato tour and many of Union's performance bugs had been worked out by the second leg. We still had ABWH and Rabin/Squire/White to look forward to on one stage. Sorry, Tony. A decent enough album and plenty of older material, updated and refreshed as only Yes can do it, sweetened the anticipatory pot.
They did not disappoint. The venue, then called Hardees Walnut Creek Amphitheater, was a masterpiece of acoustic engineering and architecture surrounded by acres of lush Carolina Piedmont hardwood forest [maybe at least some of this still exists]. Apparently Yes that night were a brand new Walnut Creek's very first event, and Jon said at one point "we're going to baptize the place tonight". Sound system and engineers were right on, even for a Yes show. As crystal clear and balanced as a good Tormato show, and nearly as loud. Classics were newly arranged as expected and performed brilliantly. One of the two best live Awakens I've heard anywhere any time. I know some folks don't like solos, but Rick's and Trevor's were from another dimension. So was Bill and Alan's duet. "WhiteFish" came closer to sounding like the birth of all creation than it had since 1979. It was preceeded by a straight ABWH & Squire arrangement of Long Distance Runaround I'd sell both kidneys to see released and distributed on DVDA. This whole show should have been released. I've heard tapes of other Union shows from both tour legs, and NONE compared. Raleigh's new amphitheater was indeed baptized in sonic fire.
In fairness it did have its weak spots - Steve's solo was MoodClap yet AGAIN and barely audible. When they played together he was in fact often drowned out by Trevor, whose own solo blasted his to near irrelevance. The Wall-of-Sound Steve Howe we knew in the 70's just wasn't there and he often - though certainly not constantly - seemed barely inspired. Truly bizzare for what was otherwise an outstanding Yesshow. 90125 [hold shift key and get()!@% ] was trotted out. Rick's, Bill's and Steve's contributions did make this kinda fun, though. NONE of Union's truly outstanding pieces were played. Had they been, more people might have heard what ABHW had really intended for Union and it be more accepted by, shall we say, Yes Core. All we got of ABWH Union was Shock to the System, which didn't translate well at all live and in any case was obviously in
Well, I just saw Yes at the Walnut Creek Ampitheatre in Raleigh last night....WOW! They were terrific! They were not in the round this time around, but it didn't detract from the show. They played the standard show they have been playing on this tour. One surprise of note was during Solly's Beard, Rabin broke into the song "Dueling Banjos". Awaken was the high point of the show for me. That song is truly incredible. I also thought that they all seemed to get along quite well. Howe was a little detached but seemed to warm as the show progressed. Bruford stayed behind the drums and was the least visible to me. Wakeman seemed to have a grand time. Squire was,..well Squire. Anderson was not very talkative but was in fine voice. White was quite powerful as usual and seemed to enjoy himself. The arrangement on stage was very lineated ie RSKW on one side and ABWH on the other.
They had some of the mechanical arms from the Round set up with them. Three in back of the drums laying on end and two above the front of the stage with triangular black white and grey stalactites hanging from them. They also appeared to be wrapped in what looked like cheese cloth. When the lights were on inside the arms this produced and very nice colorful effect.
I saw Yes in Raleigh this past Wednesday (7/10). They played _Shock to the System_ and _Lift Me Up_ which, I think, is what they played from Union on the first leg.
They could have played more Union material during the three hour concert if they cut out Trevor Rabin's mediocre solo (dueling banjos on guitar was cute though). The solo didn't have any direction and sounded random at times. _Yours is No Disgrace_ was going really well. Then Trevor jumped into his Eddie Van Halen on amphetamines routine.
Thank goodness there was no Tony Kaye solo. He was dressed and jumped around like Richard Simmons the whole time. As far as I could tell, the man has an aversion to touching a keyboard with both hands simultaneously for more than half a second. The only time I could tell his keyboard was plugged in was during _Changes_ which was pretty good.
Chris Squire literally made everyone's chest pound when he started to pluck his bass with the volume turned way up HIGH. He played it up really well. First he starts walking to the center of the stage. Then he rolls up the sleeves on his longcoat. Booooooommmmm! We couldn't even hear the thunder or airplanes overhead! (It was at the new Walnut Creek Amphitheater).
Jon Anderson's voice was strong and clear. His little speech about mic'ing the lawn seats during _I've Seen All Good People_ was a bit silly, but doesn't he do that sort of stuff at every concert? I saw him pull out the harp once, but he had it for about five seconds. Trevor seemed to forget momentarily that this was the Union tour so he stomped over Jon's intro vocals on _Lift Me Up_. Jon sort of looked at him and Trevor backed off.
Rick Wakeman's _Merlin the Magician_ was new to me and sounded fantastic. But he seemed to miss a few queues for the keyboard parts on a few songs, but pulled out of it. I'm not sure if he really missed the queues or the sound board person was slow in raising his output levels.
This was the first time I had ever seen Steve Howe in concert. My only other YesShow was on the Big Generator tour where Trevor did a decent job. What can I say? _Mood For a Day_ can actually be played by one human being with one guitar. Who would have guessed?! :-)
For most of the songs, Alan White and Bill Bruford played in sync so I couldn't really tell who was who. But the ten minute drum duel after intermission was one of the most incredible things I've ever heard. I want a synthetic drum kit!
Overall Rating: very good, bordering on excellent
General Comments: Tony Kaye is dead weight.
Trevor can make a good contribution if kept on a tight leash (and he was most of the night).