I saw Yes at the Orange County Fairgrounds in Middletown, NY, Sunday August 21. It was a muddy, rainy night at this open-air venue, and the boys played a lively, albeit abbreviated set. The show started at 8:25 and was over by 10:30. The weather was really sloppy, with a constant drizzle falling during the show. However, the rain did little to dampen the audience's or the band's spirits.
I feel compelled to mention that as far as venues go, this was the bottom of the barrel! (Victory Music, are you reading this?) The Orange County Fairgrounds are old and dilapidated. The stage was set up in the middle of a muddy bog that usually hosts stock-car races. The folks in the box office said that under 2,000 tickets had been sold and that the band needed to sell 3,000 just to break even. One fan was heard to exclaim, "But this is Yes, one of the greatest bands ever! What do you mean it's not a sell-out!?" (I called TicketMaster only three weeks before the show and was able to get 5th row seats--over the phone! What's wrong with this picture?)
It is a credit to the band that they proceeded to play their hearts out anyway. Yes played an exuberant (though occasionally sloppy) set and both the band and the audience enjoyed themselves immensely.
Among the high points of the show were I Am Waiting, Real Love, Heart of the Sunrise, And You and I, and surprisingly enough, Your Move/All Good People. Unfortunately the much ballyhooed Endless Dream was bludgeoned to death by a heavy-handed sound mix and way too much soloing during the Talk segment. Most of the stately, majestic quality that this track has on the recording was lost in a squall of wailing guitar and pounding drums.
Jon was very gregarious and entertained us with a lot of funny, spacey and sometimes touching banter between songs. Just before And You and I, he spied someone holding a baby in the first couple of rows. "What is this child's name?" he inquired. After much back-and-forth with the audience he said "Rebel? Well then this next song is dedicated to Rebel!" During the intro he dashed backstage and returned with a white teddy bear to toss to the baby's parents! Jon also went to great lengths to tell the audience what great fans we were for toughing it out on such a "terrible and wonderful night".
Chris and Trevor had a blast, dueling with each other and posing like the guitar heroes they are. A surprisingly streamlined Mr. Squire grinned from ear-to-ear through the entire show while he leaped, twirled, sang and played with abandon. Trevor played some rather ambitious keyboard parts in addition to his formidable axe-wielding. This guy sounds more like Steve Howe every time I hear him. O.K. he did flub the intro to Endless Dream, but nobody's perfect.
As my wife and I were sloshing through the muck heading back to our car, a couple of 20-ish looking guys walking behind us were talking about the concert. "Yes is pretty good. Yeah, I think I'll have to get some of their albums." ;-)