Just returned from Phoenix late last night after seeing the final date of my live Yes experience in 97 at Union Hall in Phoenix. I had 3rd row seats directly in front of Squire and while looking around noticed that one of the attendees about 5 rows back from center stage was Seattle Mariners pitcher Randy Johnson. What a gentleman - while the crowd in the quite small hall stood for the first 50min of the show , plus a good percentage of the balance as well, Randy never did - at a height of about 6" 10" I don't think he wanted to obscure anyones view!
One nice surprise in the setlist was the addition of "From the balcony" being played as a prelude to Howes acoustic set, with "Soon" still deleted. Also interesting was the plethora of new tour mdse being sold. New items which were not available on the east coast dates included new t-shirts, programs, coffee mugs (my all time favorite souvenier as coffee is another severe addicition), baseball caps, and a great lapel pin of the classic Yes logo.
Already hoping for another round at the sheds in summer 98...........
The setlist was similiar to what's been the norm thus far, with the continued practice of not playing "Soon." I really wanted to see that one live. However, at the beginning of Howe's acoustic set, they added "From the Balcony" from the OYE album, which I thought was very good, sounding much more natural than the studio version. Jon said it was the first time they had tried it, and I thought it sounded really good. I was glad to see them do another track off the new album.
The show was at the Union Hall, an old high school auditorium converted rock concert venue. It was really old, with wood floors and arching columns that supported the huge balcony. The place only sat about 3000-4000 people, but the show was a sell out. I was very impressed with Phoenix, because they really came out and supported the band nicely. The whole audience stood for the entire concert except for Howe's solos and The Revealing Science of God.
As for the performance, it was stellar, as also seems to be the norm for Yes on this tour. They were VERY loud, which was fun, but almost overbearing by the end of the concert. Squire was the highlight as he played the crowd all night, but everyone was on. Igor was quite impressive, as not only can he play very capably, but you can tell that he feels comfortable enough to play with some flair, and show off and improvise a bit now. Overall, they were all very loose and carefree, with more improv-ed solos and loose playing than I expected. Sherwood seemed to be the missing link, as far as it was difficult to tell what he does, but I assume they have him up there for a reason, to augment the guitar sound or something. He really butchered Rabin's solos on both Owner and Rhythm of Love, so I wasn't all that impressed. However, they really looked like they were all having lots of fun up there, and that was very refreshing and enjoyable.
my 2c is that it was great. before Howe's showcase, but after Howe took the stage, Anderson lingered and said they were going to try something. i hoped--and it was--From the Balcony! almost perfect.
also: vocals were great. Sherwood did very well; Igor also sang but was hard for me to discern.
like other recently reviewed shows: it was very loud; Yesworld tickets were expensive, but good; Squire was the star of the show; taped backing vocals on OYE and RoL, but nowhere else that i could tell; no Soon, which was too bad; keyboards were mixed very well; and basically a perfect execution all around.
questions: was Igor using a vocoder once or twice? or just singing along with his keyboards? and why can't they give Sherwood a solo spot? whether a.m.y. people like him, and whether he's superfluous or not, etc., he's a member of the band and an instrumentalist. what would be the problem with him grabbing an acoustic and singing us a short song?
btw, i agree that he added little in the way of guitar, and was no Howe or Rabin in that department.
Overall, it's hard to compare this show with Big Generator, Union, or ABWH (the only ones i've seen), but it was at least as good as any YES concert i've ever seen.