Some people wonder whether the KTA project actually drove any new fans into the Yes fan base. I am living proof. The day after the colossal Rush concert in Cincinnati (June 5, 1997) I went to Circuit City and decided to check out a band I'd heard discussed at the concert...Yes. The first thing I saw was Keys To Ascension, with its beautiful cover art. I spent $20 on a double-live album by a band I'd never heard of. It was well worth it. I derived many hours of enjoyment checking out Siberian Khatru and Starship Trooper and the colossal Revealing Science of God. America and Roundabout became staples in my car stereo rotation. Imagine my surprise when I discovered the massive Yes fanbase on the Internet!
So that's how I got into Yes. When I heard that the follow up to KTA was expected soon (and then was delayed little by little for about a year), I went out and really digested the Yes classic period...The Yes Album...Close to the Edge...Relayer, and the album that I have come to love, Tales From Topographic Oceans. Going For The One and Tormato brought welcome change, and Drama rocked out. To a fan with very few prejudices about lineup, I thought it all was pretty good. Then I heard that Yes would be playing the ancient Taft Theatre in my hometown, Cincinnati.
Dutifully I slipped out of the Ohio District Cross-Country meet immediately after my race, drawing derisive (but understanding) looks from my coach (who saw Yes twelve times during their '70s heyday). I purchased my tickets and everything looked good. A few days later, I entered a contest and ultimately won a free copy of KTA2. Ironically, KTA was my first Yes album, and KTA2 about my eleventh!
The long awaited Saturday came. I took leave of my friends, who were headed North to Columbus to see the State Football Semifinal (Moeller 19, Upper Arlington 10) and headed downtown. Arriving an hour early, I scouted out the block. Yesfans were everywhere, discussing KTA2, the "good old days" and the departure of Rick Wakeman. When the doors opened I found my seat (last row!) and immersed myself in the atmosphere.
The concert started the same way as Yessongs, the long classical intro, and then, wham!, Steve Howe began to shred out the opening to Siberian Khatru. ALl at once I was transported back to all the nights of listening to the song and wondering at the mastery and the pure skill of this guitarist I had never seen before. As the song progressed, Howe became a dervish. He began to jump about, bobbing his head like an enraged fowl. The final solo revealed itself, slowly growing in intensity until the entire house was on its feet. Finally Howe ended the carnage by allowing Chris to lead into the finale of the piece. A huge ovation rolled out of the crowd.
The afterglow completely consumed Rhythm of Love, which I didn't like as a song, but couldn't complain too much because here was Yes right before my eyes!
The new song followed. Open Your Eyes seemed busy and aimless, as it does the first couple times you hear it. Having not heard the album, I sort of tuned out the music and concentrated on Alan and Chris, the tightest rhythm section I had ever heard.
America was a personal favorite, and a highlight was the fact that even though Jon's voice was strained, you could hear the 3,000 in the Taft Theatre providing backing vocals during the last verse. Again Howe was amazing. Then came And You And I and Heart of the Sunrise--both sublime. Squire took over as the star, first teasing us with the bass solo in HotS and then throwing in a surprisingly skillful harmonica on AYAI.
Then Howe's acoustic set. During Masquerade I moved down to the floor, where the place was packed and everyone was excited and buzzing. Jon joined Steve for "Leaves of Green", which I didn't recognize at first until I remembered that, yeah, there was an acoustic solo at the end of Ancient, wasn't there!
After that I forget the setlist. I rememb
I just got home from the Cincinnati show. The Taft theatre was sold out and the crowd was very enthusiastic. This atmosphere seemed to really pump "the boys" up.
For all you critics, it is a shame you were not here to witness such an extraordinary show. There was not one single miss of a beat all night. Even the band memebers were pleasantly surprised and smiling as they walked off stage. They knew a homerun had been hit. Maybe their best performance to date on the tour. There is no question the tour is gathering more and more monentum.
I did notice that Jon seemed to be suffering with some minor sinus problems. However, it did not affect his voice one bit. We only noticed it when he spoke to the crowd. It was such a magical moment when Jon sang "Soon" with Steve playing his steel guitar. The audience loved it.
I am going to see the show in Columbus tomorrow and will certainly report on if I get time.
Well, now that I have had time to reflect on last night's incredible show, here's the full lowdown:
We arrived downtown at 4:00PM -- concert didn't start until 8, but we had some friends with us from Columbus, and they had never been downtown before, so we decided to putz around a bit. We made our way to the Taft Theater first, just to see exactly where it was. We walked inside and proceeded right past the ticket window, and inside the theater itself. We opened the outer door, and saw the stage setup -- the drum kit and keyboard setup, and they were testing the lights or something. The thing is -- we could have easily been backstage before anyone was aware of it, but I think we felt a little awkward doing so, so we made our way back out, and my friend asked, "We know you're not open yet, but do you mind if we look around a little?" The lady replied curtly, "We're *not* open yet." And then we got some evil looks from the ticket window as we were leaving. We'll know better next time just to go for it. :-)
Well, when the show finally began, it was great. It sounded flawless, except for what may have been one minor mistake at the beginning of "Long Distance Runaround." Igor looked confused as to where his keyboard was to end and Howe's guitar take over the opening riff -- but other than that one very small thing, it sounded perfect.
The Taft's acoustics are incredible. It was quite possibly the loudest concert I have ever been to, but the sound was not distorted in any way. Very clean and crisp sounding -- and Squire's bass thundered through the balcony sections like an earthquake hittting the theater! Awesome.
The band members seemed to be in high spirits -- even Steve! Chris was the showman of the evening, hamming it up big time to the crowd. It was great when he just struck one bass note and the crowd went nuts as it reverbed throughout the theater. Jon's voice sounded a tad horse when he spoke, but when he sang, it was the Jon of the '70s back again. I think it is incredible that he can, for the most part, duplicate the vocals on their albums from the early '70s, over 20 years ago. There's not too many artists who I can say have lost *nothing* from their vocal range, but Jon is definitely one of them. I thought it was also pretty cool that Jon seemed to be the "director" of the show, the way he moved his arms about at the other musicians. Alan's drum solo was well done, and -- I don't know if this happened at any of the other shows -- but for the duration of the entire drum solo, Chris knelt down center stage, facing Alan in admiration, arms outstretched -- and didn't move a muscle until it was over! I thought that was kinda neat. :-)
I must say -- I think the best musician on stage was Igor. He absolutely impressed me beyond belief. I don't think they miss Wakeman a bit. I think this guy has the potential to be one of the greatest keyboardists of all-time. During the end of "Trooper," he was playing a riveting part with one hand while he hit a cymbal with the other -- and he didn't miss a single beat.
The setlist was the standard set, except Steve played Masquerade/The Clap/Mood For A Day for his solo bit. Jon's comments seemed to be similar to ones I have read in other reviews, although he did make mention of a "special tea" that he enjoyed indulging in during recording sessions. When Jon was talking about the Keys To Ascension 2 "project," someone yelled out "Mind Drive" loud enough for Jon to hear -- and he commented, "Yeah, exactly...Mind Drive...we were just talking about that one back stage," but then went on to introduce "Children of Light" (and he kind of rambled on about this one and lost me). But, it seems to me that "Mind Drive" might well be added to the setlist sometime in the near future.
Comments: Great show. Truly one of the best concerts I have ever been to. The highlights were: "And You And I," "Soon" (a very, very beautiful rendition, the light show ac