It was a beautiful, balmy evening on which to head off to see Yes at the San Jose Center for the Performing Arts. Another fine venue. Striking architecture on a lovely plaza, replete with fountain and a little greenery. The theatre is the home of the ballet, and as such it has been designed with good sightlines. This time my seat was in the orchestra, affording a different perspective on the Yes proceedings, both aurally and visually.
The only set change tonight was once more in Steve Howe’s acoustic guitar interlude, where ‘Ram’ made a reappearance, accompanied by ‘Masquerade’ (from Union) as a prelude to the near obligatory ‘Clap’. I was a little sorry to miss ‘Mood for a Day’ altogether, as it had been dropped before this part of the Open Your Eyes tour. Talking of which, the two new albums (the other one being Keys to Ascension 2) featured only lightly in these shows, with the major emphasis being fresh arrangements of major classics. That suits me fine right now. The band still sounds as if it is musically alive, while acknowledging the strength of its roots in the early ‘70s material. Meanwhile, ‘Rhythm of Love’ and ‘Owner’ have been supplemented with instrumental elaborations towards the end of each
There was a hint of sadness for me tonight, as this was the last of my four concerts before returning to Britain. Unfortunately I just could not stretch my schedule to stay on tow extra days for the end-of-tour concert in Santa Barbara. Good job, as it turned out. That show, which had been added to the schedule at the last minute, was cancelled due to poor sales, apparently. Thankfully the San Jose gig proved a fitting end to the Fall 1997 itinerary, and I focused with delight on every minute until the final curtain call. As others have mentioned, the audience was more respectful of the quiet passages tonight. I could not have been happier. Christmas came early for me with these shows.
The spots turned to Jon and Steve after performing "The Revealign Science of God".
I will never forget the looks on thier faces. To hear the ovation...
Steves eyes were as big as saucers. Jon could hardly containg his glee. He had a huge grin on his face.
The SJCPE was built just to hear Yes perform this song on this night. Only a few would have seen or noticed this if it had been performed in any other venue.
One of the most memorable moments of any YES concert I have ever seen.
Yes Live at the Center for the Performing Arts, San Jose, CA. Sunday, 12/14/97.
Most people think I'm crazy for seeing YES four times in two weeks. Of course, my objectivity has always been blurred by this band, hoping for the best across the 80's incarnations and always coming up disappointed over a few choices in setlist, personnel and excitement level. I knew that there was at least something good in-store for hard core devotees of the band after the SLO shows, last year. Just how much of that positive vibe across those three days could carry over after the 4th departure of Rick Wakeman left me with several doubts. Plus regrouping and carrying forward can be a tough chore for a group who loses a flashy star member again for reasons unclear. In little over two hours and thirty minutes I was confronted with the premise that (despite what you have heard) YES is back as a united group to reckon with. They performed a balanced set of seventies and eighties material with a few newer tracks interspersed here and there.
Playing in the CPA on closing night is a real surprise for anyone who knows the venue. The last time I was there was to see a holiday performance of the Nutcracker. There are no general admission seats as in the SF Warfield, merely row upon row of excellent seats all the way up to the stage. My eleven row seat was easily the best I've had during this leg of the tour with the best visibility of the overall stage set.
The band energy level was excellent when contrasted with the local Union and Talk shows at Shoreline Ampitheater: (dismal and fair respectively). San Jose got atypical hops, skips, jumps, and a falling on your knees drama from Chris along with many unobtrusive smiles directly into the crowd during his slightly re-vamped solo extravaganza during the Fish. Plus two tease snippets of Tempus Fugit and Sound Chaser to remind us again of old faves unplayed in their entirety. Alan's solo was easily one of best in quite awhile too. Hats off to him for including the pagan percussion section of Ritual with taped effects adding to his driving attack. And also we received Steve doing miny hops during the course of the show indicating there is a great deal of the excitement in his playing. The set list for this show changed only slightly by Steve's selection of Masquerade during his solo guitar set.
In Las Vagas he played Clap and Mood for a Day but since arriving in the SF greater bay area he's played the Valley of Rocks, Diary of a Man Who Vanished, Ram and Clap in various combinations from Thursday through Sunday. Nice of him to mix it up for those of us who can tell the difference!
Obviously Chris is leading this incarnation of the band. Without Rick in the fold to tip the scales on the heavyweight status of the band, it was up to someone to catch fire and put the quintet through the more assertive paces. As for Billy: cut him some major slack people! He's in the band to support the older pieces where necessary and stay out of the way the rest of the time. I wouldn't say his role is political but more of a sign-post to where the band is going in part: with OYE obviously. It will be interesting to see which new pieces are included when the band comes back next year.
RSOG, America, Siberian Khatru: These are the showcase pieces of the performance especially on the last night. Just incredible how these revived songs can still be injected with strength and musicality rediscovered from the SLO shows. But unlike SLO, they all have been rehearsed and were played like a fine tune train cruising down the track.
Let's face it people: Wasn't this and any Yes show you saw in the last few months the best that you had seen since the late 70's? I'm not a Rabin basher, but Steve has had my loyalty since I first discovered the band in August 73. With him back in the fold, the group does have a strong chance to wade through a few more years with some live artistic intergr
Just a word here about the WONDERFUL crowd I encountered at the beautiful San Jose Center for the Performing Arts last night. Probably the most espectful crowd I have seen at a Yesshow since 1971. Not only was the standing/ sitting/ spazzing argument completely moot, but there were so few uncalled for "hoots" and "woos" that Steve was able to get through all of "Masquerade", shaking off only a single untimely audience noise and got through the second 12-string solo in AYAI (before "The Preacher & The Teacher") without a SINGLE interruption!
This must not be interpreted as indifference by the crowd (all songs except 1 or 2 got a LONG standing ovation)- this was complete, high energy RESPECT- and the band soaked that energy up and gave it back to the crowd tenfold.
It probably helped that this show was in a true theater (and a beautiful one at that)- not a bar- and that much as I hate to admit it, for all the time I've been living in San Francisco, San Jose has always seemed to be more prog-friendly.
All in all, this show ranked amongst the very finest performances I've ever seen. Blew away even the 2 great San Francisco shows the previous nights.