Overall: The band was much tighter and enthused than in Hartford and Boston. It looks like they're finally gelling as a unit. In addition, the lighting was VASTLY improved, as was Igor's volume level and playing. The sound mix was perfect. Steve's solos were adventerous - for instance, a little improvising on the acoustic guitar part in the middle of Roundabout brought about several chuckles and grins from Igor, who looked at Steve like he was crazy! Steve definatley stole the show - he was absolutley masterful - and we got to hear Country Mix, an unexpected surprise.
Highlights: In addition to the Pittsburgh reference before the beginning of America, Jon also showed that he was a football fan (also, see my after show report below)... after the mini solos in All Good People, as the drums took them back to the chorus, Jon yelled "Go Steelers!" to the delight of the crowd.
During Soon, as the Jon was explaining about how the "light" surrounds us all, and binds us together, the band was smoothly building into the piece. Striations of light came from the side of the stage, illuminating Jon through the fog onstage, and did an incredible job of making Jon actually glow while he was singing - they tried this before in Hartford and Boston with little real success, but this time they perfected it - truly magical!
We were in the front row, in front of Steve, and my friend who was with me brought a painting he did of the 90125 lineup when he was in high school. He really brought it for them to sign it after the show. During the show, though, Jon was over on our side during some rocking bit of music, and my friend held up the painting. Jon saw it, smiled, and pointed to it!
DOH! Jon's mic was cutoff for the first verse and a half of Starship Trooper. After they finally got it turned back on, Jon told the audience that they were going to start over - but the band, led by Chris, did no such thing, and kept playing, egging Jon to pick up where he left off. Jon against stated that they were going to start over, but Chris and the band wouldn't stop! Chris held up two fingers to signify the second verse, but Jon, in defiance said forcefully, but friendily "First Verse!" and he started singing from there.
After the show a friend of mine got to go backstage and meet Alan and Jon... Alan said that he said to Chris that he was the only one he could hear through his monitors. Jon said he was happy because the 49ers beat the Cowboys that day, and stated that he's a big 49ers fan, and HATED the Dallas Cowboys!
Well I guess the first thing I should mention is that some guy in front of me pissed his pants, then passed out. Just like the good old days...I looked for Geekivan but did'nt see him there. It's funny watching Howe play his 6 or 8 classic guitars and seeing Sherwood playing(barely ) these ugly pieces O' shit. Speaking of which, Howe almost shit 'imself when his roadie connected his Coral sitar to his tree stand and did'nt tighten it enough and it spun over, ready to be driven into the stage head first.. I guess it's lucky the tree stand is plenty weighted. or it would have been over for that geee-tar. Ivan was OK, lotta times he was under mixed. On Starship Trooper, the soundgeek had Anderson's mic turned down and he was silent the whole first verse. Then when the mic was finally turned up, Squire was having a good laugh at Jonny, and Jonny was trying to get the band to start the song over again, but they were all laughing at this point and continued. Jonny proceeded to start the VERSE over again, and the crowd was into it. Yeeeeeeeeaaaaa.....
I'll tell ya, I wish Ivan would get himself a real Hammond at least....these digital keyboards really promote tooth de-cay..His piano samples were terrible. Not his fault, but he does'nt have to use them, either. He did use a NordLead for the mini-moog etc. stuff, not bad, but not the real thing either. They are making mini-moogs again, you know.....Ivan is OK but he has no presence like Wakey or Patty......
Back to the guy who pissed his pants. I think his head dropped first actually then he incontinented. lotta good Craig, there. We burned a few with our neighbors. This other guy in front of me thought he was at a Steeler game, throwing his fist into the air shouting ' Auuugggghhhhhh!!!!!! every 2 seconds. Later when Howe started the "Leaves of Green" he kept saying "I love Steve Howe" to the rhythm of Howe's open 7th triplet to quarter beat part a few measures before Anderson starts singing. At this point I offered him a "terrible towel" to shove in his mouth, and he shut up for a few songs after that, but erupted again later. Nice gig though, Will we ever hear Relayer again???? waaaaaa!!!!!!!!Nice haircut, Squire...nice ears.Like tentflaps. Anderson 86'd the eye makeup. Rabin passed on his leather pants to Igor. Wonder if he ever pissed his pants?? Howe is a bald bastard. White still looks like he's a guest on the Richard Simmons show.
Rhythm of Love - I thought this was an odd choice to start the show. I figured they'd probably use something old. But still, it was very good. Also, it showed right off that Igor and Billy were going to be OK. Billy, I wasn't really too worried about, having seen him on the Talk tour. On this song, he handled all of Trevor Rabin's lead parts and vocals (pretty well). Steve played rhythm. At the end, they added a different closing section, where Billy, Steve and Igor all traded solos. It was a nice change.
Siberian Khatru - This was very good. It really got Steve rolling, and seemed to get everybody into the "old groove."
America - Jon said hello, and started talking about Pittsburgh. He said they tried to find a song with Pittsburgh in it, and this is what they came up with. :-) A bit of a pleasant surprise.
Open Your Eyes - New song, the title track of the new studio album (the first one with Billy), which is due out on Nov. 25 - Buy it! A pretty nice song - lots of good vocal harmonies from Chris and Billy.
And You And I - Jon started telling a story about the "good old days" in the studio with Eddy Offord, and how they kind of "accidentally" recorded the beginning of this song. Steve then stepped up to his acoustic, which was on a stand in front of him, and played the "tuning-up" type of thing that is on the album version. I guess they haven't done it that way in a while. This song was one of the real highlights of the show for me. This has always been one of my favorite songs, and this was definitely the best I've ever heard it. Steve got out his pedal steel for the solo in the middle, and it absolutely SOARED. It was also cool to hear Chris play harmonica in the "Preacher the Teacher" section. Awesome.
Heart Of The Sunrise - Just like it always is. Chris really worked the crowd during the solo. At one point, he kinda just paused and looked out into the crowd. Everybody started cheering for him, and he went on. Good version, overall.
Steveís Solo: Country Mix Clap Masquerade
After that, the rest of the band left the stage, and Jon introduced Steve. Steve played a couple acoustic songs on stage by himself. Country Mix is a little medley of "old-fashioned" country tunes which is on his live acoustic album. Nice little toe-tapping song. Then, he played "Clap," which we all know and love. Then he calmed things down a little and played "Masquerade," from the Union album, which was very good.
Leaves of Green (from The Ancient) - Steve started playing this by himself, and then Jon came out and started singing, and Igor came out to play keyboards. I couldn't think of what the song was until later, but it was very nice.
Children of the Light - Another new song, from Keys To Ascension II, which is out tomorrow!!! I guess, from what I've heard, that this is part of a larger song. I don't remember a whole lot about it. Kind of a lighter sounding song with some nice piano work.
Igorís Solo - Jon introduced Igor, the young Russian guy who they found to replace Rick on the tour. Then Igor played a nice classical-flavored piano thing. He then moved into some kinda ragtime-type stuff.
Long Distance Runaround - At the end of his solo, Igor started to play the intro to this on piano. It was a little tough to recognize, but the second time around, Steve started playing and the song took off. Billy sang most of Chris's vocal parts.
The Fish / Whitefish (Tempus Fugit / Ritual / Sound Chaser) - After hearing this, I'm feeling pretty pathetic right now. They started to play "The Fish," and then Chris started improvising on it, and then he kicked into a little solo medley with Alan, which included the bass riff from "Tempus Fugit," Alan's drum solo from "Ritual," and a little bit of "Sound Chaser." I'm still trying to pick my jaw off the ground. The two of them have got to be one of the best rhythm sect
We were really looking forward to this show after having seen the second tour date in Boston. While Jon, Chris and Steve put on phenomenal performances there, the rest of the band seemed to have not yet fallen into sync. The Pittsburgh show proved that they all are firing on all pistons now.
Without a doubt, the biggest improvement has been the playing of Igor Khorosev. He was barely audible two weeks ago; in Pittsburgh, he plainly carried a number of the songs. His solo piece was still short, but it was at least three times as long as before (and somewhat reminiscent of a certain P. Moraz.) He also carried himself with much more confidence. The classic Wakeman/Kaye organ solos screamed out of his rig while his usage of the NordLead and Yamaha CS1X covered the vintage synth parts beautifully.
Having seats directly in front of Billy Sherwood gave us a chance to analyze his part in this version of the band more carefully. The verdict - he's given Yes a penultimate team player - something that is a tremendous asset. His only leads were on the two Rabin tunes (which he covered well) and at the end of Starship Trooper, but when Steve Howe is at the opposite side of the stage, why would Billy be expected to carry any more solos? Instead, he does a great job with rhythm work, intricate harmonies (covering some of Chris and Steve's parts), and an occasional guitar synth part. He's also quite enthusiastic about being in the band and quite a gentleman to boot. (We met him and Alan after the show. Jon also came backstage to greet a couple dozen of us and gravitated to my wife, clutching her shoulder while he thanked us all for coming and exulted over the '49ers victory over Dallas. In Steeler territory, no less.)
The rest of the band was terrific. Jon seemed a little hoarse but hit all the notes (and remembered almost all his lyrics.) Steve and Chris were both spectacular and even showed a little more interplay than a couple of weeks ago. Alan also put in a fine performance.
Much also needs to be said for the sound and lighting crews. The sound was improved 100% over Boston, although that may have had something to do with Palumbo being larger than the Orpheum. The padding of Igor's keys helped tremendously and the sound crew should've gotten a gold star for Pittsburgh if they hadn't had Jon's channel turned off for Starship Trooper. The addition of the "shooting stars" and the larger stage also made the light show better. Handshakes all around for the techs.
Finally, here's hoping that Jon's promise of touring "into the 21st century" holds true. Hearing Perpetual Change and Close to the Edge as he promised last night will be reasons to come back, but, moreso we'll always want to see him and Yes every chance we get. Introducing Soon he said "Twenty years ago I wanted to sing about the light that I thought surrounded us all. Now I know that it does and I still want to sing the song." And we want to hear it. Thank you for a continually wonderful experience, guys.
Here are my short comments about Pittsburgh:
* I was there when Billy, Chris, and Jon got off the bus (maybe 6 feet from them or so!)
* The concert was not nearly as loud as Fairfax, Va.
* The mix was better than Fairfax, VA.
* Ivan has improved a lot. He took a little 30 second or so solo at Fairfax, but this time his solo was greatly extended. It was great! I retract my past Fairfax-based comments about Ivan. If he becomes a full member and is allowed to write and come up with his own ideas, I think he has the potential to be more interesting than Wakeman would have been. But...
* Can someone help me with the comment that Jon made about Rick? It was something like "When Rick decided he didn't want to tour with us anymore." Then the crowed booed, and Jon said," He doesn't want to tour with us anymore for now." Why do I get the feeling that Rick might make some future CD or concert "guest" appearances without being a full member?
*We know more about KTA 2 than Jon does. He remarked that KTA 2 will be out "next week". He is apparently unaware of the November 4 -> November 11 -> November 18 ->early '98 -> how do I get an import? progression.
* Another interesting comment by Jon (concert people help me if I heard this wrong). He said something about "catching us the next time, and maybe we will play perpetual change, close to the edge, and more new material." (paraphrased) I have a hunch Yes will add more new material when the CDs are released (if they ever are).