This was a very special concert for me. It was first time I had made it over from Britain to watch Yes live in the US, and to be part of YesFest ’94 in New York, organized by the wonderful Suzanne Cerquone. I’d just made it off the plane, into the hotel, and onto the bus to Wantagh… so by the time Yes hit the stage I had been travelling for 14 hours flat.
Our seats were in the second main bank, so further back than we had expected. But I enjoyed the whole panorama of the audience, stage and view over the water as night fell and the lights began to shimmer. It was almost an out-of-body experience, no doubt induced by the chemical warp my body had been through as much as by the chemistry of the concert!
The wave of expectation and energy from the massed attendees was palpable as the band emerged and the first chords of ‘Perpetual Change’ rang out. I would have loved it to have been more than an excerpt, but it was treat to listen to before Jon Anderson drifted from the shadows to launch into ‘The Calling’.
My first reaction to the ‘Talk’ album had been mixed, to say the least. Those socking backbeats were as far from the subtle polyrhythms of an earlier era of Yes music as you could get. Yet this evening, in the beautiful setting of Jones Beach, the sheer electricity and panoramic grandeur of the music came across with overwhelming power, but also with moments of fleeting grace.
Midway through the concert I was fighting with the effects of jetlag, but determined to lap up every musical moment. It was a truly memorable evening. ‘Hearts’ being described as an old song was a little strange to those of us schooled in the classic Yes of the 70s, but I felt the old spirit was very much alive in new form. The band was also incredibly tight. I missed Steve Howe’s more angular, jazz-driven guitar work, but you cannot but admire the technique and commitment of Trevor Rabin.
The whole show was saturated in Amphitheatre overdrive, without a doubt, and turned out to be one of the musical experiences of my life. As we piled back onto that ramshackle bus after the gig, I sank into a half-sleep loaded with sounds to savour for many years to come. Some concerts recede to the unrecoverable corners of our minds. This one will stay with me for as long as I remain.
Just saw an ad for the Jones Beach show in this Sunday's NY Times. There was note saying that the show would have "special sound enhancements" -- what the hell does that mean? I'm assuming it's something good, but it almost sounds like they'll be lip-synching or something. Anybody know what this means? Will it be at ALL the shows (I'm going to Great Woods and would like to know what to expect).
Almost forgot - I really enjoyed reading the post in the last issue by the guy who taped the ConcertSonics broadcast, partly because I did the same at Jones Beach on 9/8 and had nearly the same experiences as him (way too much effort taken to conceal the equipment, surprisingly good but mono tapes, and so on). I like that he mentioned in his story that he always wanted to name a Yes bootleg, and now he finally had a chance to do it. I was going to make a similar offer with my tapes, but decided against it for lack of time. :( As it stands now I'll probably just dub it for a few friends and call it "It Happened On the Water." :) (Jones Beach Theater, as you can probably infer, is right on the beach).