28 years, 9 months and 13 days ago
Thursday, August 18, 1994
This was the second time for me to see Yes. The first time was in Atlanta on the Union tour. This show paled in comparison to the Union show. They played at the amphitheatre in Nashville and the place was only a little fuller than halfway. I remember feeling sad for the guys in the band. I knew the Talk Cd very well. They just seemed to be having an "off" night. For example, at the beginning of Endless Dream, the ten minute epic for that album, Trevor Rabin played a keyboard intro and being a musician myself, i didn't have to strain to hear a few wrong notes. All in all it was very much worth the ticket price. Lastly they closed with Purple Haze. Try to imagine Jon Anderson singing Purple Haze. It seemed a little contrived. But that didn't stop them from remaining one of my favorite all time bands.
Nashville Tennessean August 19, 1994
There were a lot of Pink Floyd T-shirts seen at the Yes concert last night at Starwood Amphitheater. A musical era favoring expensive theatrics and technically flawless, focused virtuosity has given way to raw energy at the expense of musicianship. In other words, we're not in Kansas (or Boston) anymore. We're sleepless in Seattle.
Though the lawn was predominantly empty, a surprisingly large, mature but enthusiastic crowd provided full support for the aging, balding art rockers. Like their Floydian counterparts, Yes has by no means forgotten how to put on a show. And while bassist Chris Squire's swashbuckling stage outfit fits a little tighter these days, his magic fingers have aged much more gracefully.
"New" guitarist Trevor Rabin (who replaced Steve Howe for the 90125 album 10 years ago) is easily one of the most impressive axemen around. Unfortunately, lydian scales and digital effects aren't as appreciated as they were in the '80s. Vocalist Jon Anderson hasn't aged at all, so he thinks.
"It seems like we wrote this song yesterday," said Anderson, referring to Heart of the Sunrise. "But people tell me we wrote it about 50 trillion years ago."
Nonetheless, Rabin, Anderson, Squire, drummer Alan White and keyboardist Tony Kaye performed this complicated tune with finesse and enthusiasm as if they had just written it. Rhythm of Love, from the album Big Generator, and Owner of a Lonely Heart were given equal treatment.
Music that is complex for the sake of being complex has its emotional drawbacks. By the same token, computerized lighting and elaborate stage sets can be considered a bit pretentious by some. Despite this, it needs to be said that the advent of grunge pulled the rug out from under art rock before it could reach its full fruition. For example, guitarists across the country are throwing their effects rack in the closet and yanking out wall-to-wall Marshall amplifier stacks again. Yes, whose stage is devoid of amplifiers of any sort, cranked out the best mix of any concert I've heard, period. Is it so wrong to want to hear the lyrics? Technology is there for a reason: use it.
Nashville Banner August 18, 1994
Most musicians would get offended if fans brought a Walkman to their concert and listened to the radio during the show.
Not Yes. Instead, Yes is promoting the idea of bringing a radio to their concert tonight at Starwood Amphitheater. It's an experimental concept called Concertsonics. A radio frequency will be employed for the concert, and people whose seats are less than ideal for the sound can tune in and hear the event exactly as it's meant to be heard.
"It's just experimentation," said Yes keyboard player Tony Kaye from a hotel room in Tampa. "But we've had some good reports about it from people on the lawns on this tour. You dial in, put it on, you got stereo. If you're at the front, you're in the middle of quadraphonic sound, so there's no reason to be doing it."
The Arrow (104.5-FM) is giving away special headsets designed specifically for the Yes show, but many other portable radios will provide the same effect. It works, however, only in a specific section of Starwood. Move too far out of that designated area and the difference between the radio signal and the sound from the speakers creates an echo.
Those who use the Concertsonics system will hear the music in much the same way that Yes hears it, since most of the band members use a similar system. Instead of hearing the music through the monitors at the foot of the stage, they use earphones that provide a mix with more clarity and without the sound of the audience.
"It's a good thing, musically," said Kaye. "The ambience of the place doesn't matter anymore. You get the same sound every night, where before, you never knew what you were coming into with the sound of the auditorium you played that night. Now it's like being in a studio, so that's cool. The fact that you don't get the audience noise is somewhat disappointing though."
Currently, Yes is touring behind the album Talk, an album with a raw texture harder than the group's usual approach. And as a result, Kaye says their music is a little more spontaneous on the current tour.
"We change the music around a lot," said Kaye. "That is one thing about this particular band, as opposed to the Union tour in 1991, when we had a few band members who wanted to play it exactly the way it was. We play things a lot louder and maybe a little faster than they were ever done. They would have preferred to stand still, and that's a big mistake.
"We're still creating. You play the arrangement the way that it is, but with the kind of clarity we're getting, you can experiment and branch out a bit with the playing."
Kaye will branch out on a personal level for his Starwood appearance. The band has an extra off-day, and he intends to look for a home in Nashville with his girlfriend, Holly Wynn, a hopeful country/rock singer who has a band in Los Angeles.
It's a rare day off in a brutal tour schedule: 64 shows in 62 cities in 8 2 days, and Kaye admitted they have "plenty" of regrets about the pace they've agreed to maintain.
"It's a double-edged sword," he said. "We would like the time off, but everyday on the road costs an enormous amount of money. You have to weigh up the good and the band. Not to do anything for three or four days is very expensive, so they keep us at it. Actually, it's pretty good. If we've got six concerts in a row, a day off, and another six, that's pretty brutal. Four's OK, five you're getting tired, six you start cursing never at the audience."
One thing about it: not every concert ends up on a radio.