Not only was I treated to a stellar performance by Yes at the Palace Theatre in Albany, NY, but I had the privilege of meeting Jon Anderson at an autograph signing at Borders bookstore in Albany.
I'll review the concert in a bit, but first I want to talk about Jon's performance. At 1 PM, October 21st, Jon, accompanied by his wife Jane, met his fans. We were treated to a solo acoustic performance by Jon, in which he performed two songs from his most recent solo effort, "Earthmotherearth." He played "Time Has Come" and "Eartmotherearth," along with bits of "Concerto Uno." Jon spent most of his time talking about how the album was recorded, and answered a few questions along the way.
Some of the questions, and answers were quite entertaining. One fan asked him what happened with Rick Wakeman, and Jon was very blunt when he said that "he met a guy from the 700 club." He went on to tell a story of how Rick, appearing on the 700 club, said that Yes played devil music. While he was saying this, the show displayed a picture of Alan White. Jon was shocked at this because "Alan White is the most gentle man in the world." He also said that Alan was Jon's best man at his wedding.
He talked a little about the SLO performance and how he dragged everyone over to San Luis Obispo to record, "Keys To Ascension." When he asked Steve to come to SLO for the recording, Steve suggested sarcastically that they go to Alaska instead. It was a long trip for Steve and Rick coming from England. He said that writing "Keys" was special because he got to write music with Chris again, something that he hadn't done in years.
He talked a little about how eager Igor has been. Igor asked Jon the other night, "Why don't we do Close To The Edge tonight?" Jon said that he'd do it if Igor could get the all the other band members to learn it. Jon says that Igor can play anything Rick does without a problem. Jon also said that he wanted to do "I Am Waiting," but that there is just not enough time in a two and three quarter hour show.
After the question and answer session, Jon signed autographs. I found him very personable and very friendly. It was a real cool experience.
Okay, on to the Yes concert now. Some general comments first. The Palace Theatre looked like it was going to fall apart any minute. It was nice inside, bigger than the State Theatre in New Brunswick. They filled the place up, at least the bottom orchestra section. I couldn't see up in the balcony. This time Igor was turned way up. At times, he may have been too loud. Chris' bass was also very loud throughout. Jon dedicated "I've Seen All Good People" to the fans that came out and saw him at Borders. It was kind of cool cause he said he would dedicate that song to us, and he remembered. The sound was the best yet, but was way too loud toward the end. The band seems to be very tight and the performance toward the beginning of the show was the best yet.
The setlist was the same as the New Brunswick, NJ show, so I won't repeat it again. Here are a few comments about some of the songs they played.
Siberian Khatru- Steve had an incredible kick-ass solo at the end of this one that completely rocked the house.
Heart Of The Sunrise- As Chris was walking up to front of the stage for the solo in the beginning of the song, there was no light on him at all. When the light finally was turned on, Chris looked up to the lighting man and gave him a sarcastic thumbs up.
Steve Howe solo- Steve played a little of something else between Masquerade and Clap. I had never heard it before. Anyone out there know what its called?
Long Distance Runaround- I really feel bad for Igor. Jon introduced the song by talking about questions that had to be answered. Some people in the audience were shouting out questions, one of them was, "Where's Rick?" Jon turned around and said there he is, pointing to Igor. He went through a time machine. He was wa
I saw the Saturday show in Boston and decided to also make the trek to Albany for Tuesday's show. It was about a five hour drive from Maine; I brought my daughter with me and played YES the whole way to give my 16 year old a crash course in YES before the concert. I decided to get there a little early and see if I could get some better seats from the box office and checked in at about 1pm and got 3rd row seats in the balcony. I then asked for directions to a local hotel and was directed to the Omni.
I pull up to the lobby and leaving my daughter in the car, check at the front desk to see if they have a room. As I'm checking in, I look to my right and see Alan White. I walked over to him for a second and told him that I very much enjoyed the show in Boston, then went back to checking in. Just as I'm finishing and heading back to the car, Steve Howe comes out of the elevator. I said hi, but he ignored me and headed over to the front desk. I couldn't pass up the chance and so went back to the car and grabbed my Close to the Edge CD and a pen and approached him at the front desk to ask for an autograph. He had just started talking to Alan, and as I approached he turned to me and said "we are having a private conversation". I apologized and headed back towards the door and retrieved my daughter and our luggage and as he started for the door, he came over and offered to sign the cd and then called Alan over to also sign. I felt like a shmuck at that point since of course Bruford played on Close the Edge. I realize they were probably exhausted from their trip and didn't really want to deal with a fan at that point, but it was nice to meet Howe.
Later in the day I found out that Anderson was giving a free performance at a local book store and signing copies of his latest CD. I wish I had known before as I surely would have attended. Other citiies may want to look for similar performances on the day of the concert.
In comparison to Boston, it seemed to me that they had really cleaned up the previous glitches. The music seemed much tighter and the transitions to new movements were very clean. Igor was much louder in Albany and seemed to really have the parts down. There were several instances where it was obvious that Howe was approaching Igor and coordinating their playing together. Sounded great in my opinion. They really jammed on Starship Troopers at the end...wow.
The sad thing about the concert was the poor attendance. As I said I had 3rd row balcony and so I needed to sell previous row Y tickets. People were just about giving away tickets before the show; ticket sellers were offering $40 seats for $35. It was not sold out and good seats were available right up to show time. I got inside and the balcony was more than half empty. I and many others moved up to the first row balcony as the seats remained empty (they were great seats...completely unobstructed view of the whole stage from about the equivalent of 15 rows back). Its sad to see a great group like this in a small venue not filling all seats...if this continues, I would not be surprised if this is their last tour.
I'd be interested to hear other comments from attendees at the Albany show.
Hi, the show in albany was much tighter than the Hartford show. the theater had great acoustics, plus, padded seats for us old farts. They have finally figured ot where the volume controls are for the keyboards. Very impressed with Igor in Albany. Billy Sherwood should do something about that hair. He looks like Stuttering John's evil twin brother. We were not treated like hoodlums like we were in hartford. You didn't have to fill out a waiver to buy alcoholic beverages as you did in Hartford. The band still needs to let people bring in cameras without any hassles. I do not agree on video or tape recorders. 35mm cameras or any still shot cameras should be allowed. The set list remained the same as it has been. Steve did do a number I didn't recognize between Masquerade and Clap.
Yes pulled into town Tuesday morning, 10/21, to play a nearly sold out show last night at the Palace Theatre that was nothing short of pure delight to any died in the whool Yes fan. Prior to the concert, members of the band were spotted walking all over town, including Jon who appeared at a local bookstore to sign autographs and sang a few short solos for those lucky enough to find their way. Steve, Alan and Chris were spotted at a local downtown area pub in Albany called McGeary's Tuesday afternoon. Getting back to the concert, Yes played for nearly 3 full hours with no intermission. The set list was nearly identical to previous performances except for the addition of The Heart of The Sunrise, a surprise to many in the audience. The performance was absolutely flawless. Jon's voice was clear and crisp while Chris, the emperor of the bass guitar, played tirelessly with strong backing and supporting vocals. Steve spent all evening playing his heart out on every piece, transfixed on the music with little interchange with the audience or the band. Chris strolled over numerous times to jam with Steve while Steve focused more on the music. It appeared that Roy Claire, Steve's old time guitar rodie, was just as busy as the rest of the band, tuning the nearly 18 different guitars I counted played during the performance, occasionally using several guitars for one piece. Steve's performance on And You and I and Leaves was especially delightful in addition to his solos. Steve's acoustic guitar playing is highly refined and as close to studio vintage quality as I can ever recall, particularly on All Good people, where he used his Martin Mandolin for much of the first half of the piece, Your Move, and Roundabout, which was much more acoustically driven this go around. I sat in the second row with my jaw dropped open for much of the show. Many in the crowd danced during the encore performances but were mainly mellow for the full duration. Steve indicated he would prefer silence during the intro to And You and I by pointing to his guitar. Chris wore the same outfit as previous shows -- this time WITH SOCKS. 3 front row seats were sold on the day of the show as some of the wives decided not to view this performance. Rick's absence was missed but Ivan did a terrific job, adding studio pieces often missed during live performances by Rick. His keyboard arrangement was fairly plain and basic, missing the flame and flair often associated with Rick. Billy Sherwood, as correctly pointed out by other contributors to NFTE, was window dressing for the most part, playing mainly rhythm guitar while Steve, the maestro, led each piece, just perfectly. This is a tour not to be missed and will be remembered by many of Yes' loyal fans as perhaps one of the best in the bands' 30 year existence.