28 years, 10 months and 13 days ago
Wednesday, July 27, 1994
Las Vegas, Nevada
Thomas And Mack Center
Las Vegas Review-Journal July 29, 1994
In The Calling--the rousing second song of Wednesday's concert at the Thomas & Mack Center--Jon Anderson sings "I'll be calling the voices of Africa," and "calling the dragons of China."
Here's some other people Yes should be calling: --Whoever decided to put Wednesday's concert into the full arena configuration instead of the cozier amphitheater setup. The pitiful crowd of 2,646 in the cavernous arena was an embarrassment to the band, and denied a more intimate view to the fans who did show up.
--Rick Wakeman, the keyboard master from the classic Yes albums, whose showmanship was sorely missed. And while they're on the phone, they could call guitarist Steve Howe and even drummer Bill Bruford (though he's now back with King Crimson). Wednesday's show was in many ways anticlimatic to the eight-man lineup of Yes that visited in 1991.
--Their lighting designer, more specifically, calling for his head on a platter. Though the new Yes album, Talk, hearkens back to the warmer, more spiritual versions of the band, the visual design was a retread of 1983's 90125 tour, with a metallic, industrial stage and harsh, cold lighting more akin to a dance club than a band known for its trippy, mystical excursions.
Despite all this, Yes defied the odds and put on a great show anyway. They've been around 26 years now, so you can't underestimate their survivability. And the thing that really makes a Yes concert great is that half the crowd--no matter how small--truly believes that Yes is the best band on earth. Their enthusiasm is contagious.
The generous 2-1/2 hour event proved that unlike many bands which have slipped into a classic rock ghetto, Yes is still a creative force that deserves to be heard. Playing all but one song from the new album Talk, Yes still delivered the grandiose rock that put it on the map, while updating itself by shifting away from long-winded instrumental indulgences that no longer impress people.
A solid 70-minute set fired up the crowd with '80s material such as Changes and Rhythm of Love, paving the way for the knockout punch after a brief intermission. The old standby Your Move/All Good People brought the crowd to its feet, setting up the new 20-minute epic Endless Dream. It was a show-stopper packed with all the dynamic scope you could ask for in a rock show, from quiet verses highlighting Anderson's delicate voice to full-blown orchestral bombast, accented by quadrophonic speakers in the back of the hall.
The main drawback is that the current five-man lineup (plus Las Vegas native Billy Sherwood as a guitar and keyboard utility man) leaves Anderson as the primary visual interest on stage. Guitarist Trevor Rabin is the current guiding force behind the scenes, but he's not as much fun to watch onstage as Wakeman or Howe. And watching him play piano as well as guitar further accentuated the weaknesses of keyboardist Tony Kaye, who isn't in the same class as the rest of the band.
One footnote: The experimental "Concertsonics," in which fans brought personal stereos inside and listened to the sound feed on headphones, turned out to be an idea worth pursuing. But it probably works better at outdoor concerts. In the arena, the volume was so loud that unless you had a godzilla of a Walkman, you could only hear the headphones during the quietest passages. But, like the show as a whole, it was a nice effort.
The Las Vegas show did not even fill half of the stadium. I guess that is what Jon meant when he said 'We aren't selling tickets like we used to' during his talk at Yestival.