The concert was staged at the Apollo theatre in Manchester's Ardwick Green, a grade II listed building in the art deco style, built in 1938 as a multi-purpose cinema and variety hall. The Apollo is now flanked by liquidation warehouses and derelict land which provided the opportunity and means for enterprising and artful black economy dodgers to operate a car parking scam into which we were sucked at £5 per car as opposed to £2 on the official car park another 200 yards further down the road.
It was late February on a day of wind and showers which fortunately stayed off as we stood in the queue waiting to enter the theatre. Standing in the queue gave some time for consideration of our fellow concert goers who were not just the aging university students of the early 70's, by now in mid career, but were the blue collar workers of that time who had been drawn to music more spiritually and cerebrally based than prevails for working people today. That time of enlightenment was all too soon superseded by the celebration of oafishness which was punk which in turn gave way to the new romantics. Then came the physicality of dance music which will probably be the organised sound which accompanies the turn of the century.
And so the cerebral and spiritual has moved to the physical and ephemeral - reflecting human evolution’s ebb and flow rather than linear progression. In the intervening years Yes had survived, partly because of people like myself who had received a message which they did not intellectually understand but which touched into some long-forgotten memory. Some transmitter that sent a message in the hertz of the soul - received and understood. A message in a different dimension – touching emotion through erased memory. The Remembering.
The post-hippies were there and had either, in weakness, failed to come to terms with the times or, in strength, had recognised the ebb tide and stoically canuted their way through the subsequent decades. The average age was in the 40's and mostly male. Had Yes been at their zenith in the 90's maybe the increased spirituality of that decade would have resulted in larger female representation. Genesis maintained their popularity post-Peter Gabriel by moving from the esoteric to the romantic which, in those days, undoubtedly increased female interest.
Some, like me, had bought the next generation to hear the music, much of which is almost 30 years old now, written and performed by rather musical, although mostly formally untrained, musicians. Did the other parents hope that their children would receive the message and carry it on like relayers into the future?
Whilst a substantial part of the audience was there as a spiritual experience it must be said that at least an equally large number where there to be entertained. The essence of Yes's music is the awareness of spirituality and those who attended as an entertainment would have returned home having short changed themselves. Perhaps that's the difference between the songs like Roundabout and Owner of a Lonely Heart and the more profound pieces like Awaken and The Revealing Science of God.
The interior of the Apollo has the feel of a pre-war cinema. We were seated in the centre of the circle, about six rows back, looking down on the stage which was illuminated by pale, cold green light in front of a white semi-circular backcloth. The keyboards were set on a plinth on the left and the drums to the right. The 'standard' was there with the triangle surrounded by a circle and this may be something personal to Jon Anderson concerning his being a long-term disciple of Divine Mother or something to do with the Opio movement.
The auditorium began to fill as music played quietly - short mantric excerpts from 'Open your Eyes' separated by sounds from the beginning of 'Close to the Edge.' The scheduled starting time was 7.45 but this passed with only the appearance of roadies quietly testing guitars, keyboards, drums and microphones. The auditorium continued to fill.
Even though the start time had passed, a jovial character from Yorkshire disappeared back to the bar for further refreshment - he must have known something we didn't. Again the roadies came on and off the stage fine tuning the equipment and the auditorium became fuller and fuller. At 8.10 the Yorkshireman returned from the bar and made his way to his seat with an apology to all he disturbed. The concert could now begin.
The auditorium lights dimmed and the sound of the audience of about 3,000 people became modified by a smaller rising sound which after a few seconds became recognisable as the familiar Firebird Suite used by the group since the early 70's. The sound rolled on – building. Not only with the dynamics of the music but with increased volume as the faders were eased forwards on the mixing desk like the throttles of a jet airliner. The sound built to a crescendo. Thousands of watts and the power of Stravinsky shook the theatre with the last chord of the Firebird being accompanied by, and then replaced by, the analogue strings of an Oberheim synthesizer and a crescendo of cymbals. The Yes starship was now thundering down the runway, losing connection with earth and gaining ascension. Expectation.
Steve Howe's harsh guitar chords and runs from the introduction to Siberian Khatru comprised the first wave which was then supported by the wall of sound which was Chris Squire’s bass guitar. Not only was he using the Rickenbacker but also a set of bass pedals which literally shook the whole building. With the first notes of Howe's guitar the darkness was banished by beautiful colours of light in which the group played and bathed. Warmth.
The songs ranged in era from the earliest from The Yes Album through to the latest from Open your Eyes with the most meaningful, for me, being And you and I and The Revealing Science of God. I understand that the latter is now referred to only as TRSOG by Yes aficionados. Whilst not having a monopoly on the understanding of Yes's music, I wondered how much some of the audience had grasped what Yes are about evidenced by the places in which some attempted to clap. It was about as appropriate as clapping along to a Mozart Piano Sonata. Each to his own but the problem at a concert is that other people have to hear it.
Sitting back in my seat, as Neil sat forwards intent on Alan White and the Drums, I saw him looking down on the stage with Jon Anderson seeming to look back enveloped by the coving which ran from the roof of the theatre in a wide curve, like a giant mushroom, evocative of the set used on the Tales from Topographic Oceans tour of the mid 70's. Connection and Continuity.
I have seen Yes about 15 times over 30 years and in the past Jon Anderson came over as rather a ‘mysterious traveller’ with only limited communication with the audience and maybe a certain quiet arrogance - slightly aloof from the proceedings. Talking to the audience between songs is I think essential to a good concert as the audience attend partly to find out what the group are really like as people within the limitations of audience and performer. What do their talking voices sound like? Do they have a sense of humour? What is their demeanour? The audience is not an amorphous mass of 3,000 people but come individually or as partners or as small groups of friends. In a way the group outnumber the audience with five of them and perhaps an average of two of us.
These years later Anderson seems much more relaxed and at peace with himself. As ever his long time wife, Jane Luttenburger, was there in the middle of the front row and at the end of one song he went to the front of the stage and kneeled down to give her a hug. He was able to laugh at himself (as he sometimes forgets the words) and enjoyed an amount of repartee with the audience.
Anderson was careful not to be too drawn by a contingent from Liverpool who had a repertoire of cracks to shout between song such as ‘Play us the other one you know, Jon’ in a heavy scouse accent. This had the whole audience laughing and came at the end of And you and I. This may seem inappropriate given the spiritual nature of the song which concerns the connections which we all have beyond this physical world but somehow it fitted and was just funny. Anderson's response was to begin to sing Gonna dance to the Midnight..... but got no further as the rest of the group launched into Heart of the Sunrise. If my Yes history is correct Midnight Hour was the first ever song the group played at Dulwich College in 1968. It was the only song they knew then and they played it for over an hour. 20 Album's later I think Anderson can be forgiven for forgetting a few of the words.
As the concert moved on through old and new each had a solo part with Steve Howe experiencing a problem with a guitar connection prompting a restart to his piece. This gave a golden opportunity to the Liverpudlians who advised him to pay his electricity bill next time. Chris Squire and Alan White used The Fish as a platform with Igor Khoroshev performing a solo piano piece which was sophisticated and harmonically and rhythmically complex in the style of Keith Jarrett. The newest member of Yes, and not yet born when the group started, he showed himself to be a fine player with great technically facility.
Billy Sherwood, whilst billed as a member of the group, seemed uncomfortable with live performance and took the role of a rhythm guitarist which is superfluous to Yes's music. I never heard the sound of his guitar which must have been kept well down in the mix. I wondered why this quiet Californian was there and his strength is probably in writing and recording. Live performance can be frightening for some.
As the concert moved to its conclusion two songs were played as encores and, in line with tradition, these were Starship Trooper' and 'Roundabout. On the former, Adam Wakeman played. Apparently Khoroshev was stuck in New York with a passport problem just the day before and Adam had been rehearsing with Yes in case the issue was not resolved. My impression was that he did not have the facility of either Khoroshev or his father and was of a later, less disciplined, musical generation.
The evening was not nostalgic, as it could have been. The Yes flame, perhaps burning in a fibreglass mushroom of outdated design, has been seen down the years by hippy students through the smoke of smoldering joints, by professionals across piles of papers and files and by factory workers beyond rows of machinery. It could not have been lit by the musicians alone, and there I found it last evening, burning anew in the nicotine stained variety theatre of a northern town.
Wednesday, September 9, 2015 9:06 AM
Having been fortunate enough to catch four Yes concerts on the west coast of America for the Fall ‘Open Your Eyes’ tour just two months earlier, I was intrigued to see what – if any – set changes there might be for the first date of the European tour in Manchester. Just Steve Howe’s solo choices, as it happened. But no complaints from me. ‘America’, ‘Siberian Khatru’, ‘And You and I’, ‘Heart of the Sunrise’ and (above all) ‘The Revealing Science of God’ – rightly accorded a standing ovation – made for a classic core to the show, along with a smattering of new and ‘80s material.
The big question for the night, of course, was who would play keyboards? Igor Khoroshev had visa problems, but they were thankfully resolved at the last minute. Adam Wakeman, Rick’s son, had gamely taken on the task of learning the set in a very short period of time (shades of drummer Alan White, coming in for the ‘Close to the Edge’ tour)… but in the end he was spared the need to deputise. Nonetheless, Igor stood aside to allow him to play the ‘Starship Trooper’ encore, joining him right at the end. It was a stellar performance and they both seemed to enjoy the moment. A special end to a special evening.
At the beginning of Steve's solo, there was a problem with a crackling sound which they solved by replacing the lead, but then in the middle of Mood For A Day, Steve walked too far from the amp and the lead came out! Steve joked by continuing to play the guitar with no sound, everyone laughed!
It was obvious that Jon had not learnt the words from From The Balcony because he kept looking at a lyrics sheet on the floor!
Igor had no passport at New York, so the band thought they may have to find a session musician until the problem was resolved - though Igor arrived in the UK in time. Apparently, they rehearsed the entire set with Adam Wakeman! Adam came on stage and replaced Igor for the final encore, Starship Trooper!
Perhaps they intended to rehearse a new song with Igor in the 3 days before this first gig, but that is speculation.
The performance was spectacularly good. The sound mix was excellent with Chris's bass sounding really crisp and Steve's guitars were clear. Igor was excellent especially in Revealing Science. It was difficult to tell if Billy Sherwood actually contributed anything! The crowd gave the band a "hero's" wellcome; Revealing Science was best received with a standing ovation.
It is great exciting yesshow that I've ever seen except their set list. Jon, Steve, Chris and Igor were perfect, but Alan took some mistakes.
We got two accidents yesterday.
One. In the Guitar solo,when Steve took a more little step to the center of the stage,his guitar plug was out! But, he continued solo.
Two. "Igor must be back to New York on 27th Feb, because of his passport limit" after Roundabout, Jon said. And Jon told "Instead of Igor, Adam Wakeman join us tomorrow!!" And Adam Wakeman appeared to play Starship Trooper" From 27th Feb show for a while,Adam plays with yes.
It was quite one of the best YESSHOWS I've seen in 20 years despite the first night technical probs. I thought Chris was in absolutely awesome form and really played to the crowd. It appeared to take a couple of numbers for Steve to get into the groove and he seemed to go missing a couple of times in the opening Siberian Khatru but he was soon up to speed and dancing around like a spring chicken. I thought he coped marvelously with the problems at the start of his solo spot and the new number 'corkskrew' went down really well. The ovations for And You and I & The Revealing SOG were tremendous and well deserved and Jon looked quite taken a back by the reception for the latter.
The encore was quite incredible especially with the introduction of Adam Wakeman, I can't recall Starship Trooper played any better ever ! Adam was absolutely magnificent though credit goes to Igor as well for a) putting in an excellent performance himself and b) for generously making way for Adam on Starship Trooper.
What really made the show for me was how much more personal it felt in the relatively small Apollo theatre. I've been to shows at Wembley and Birmingham NEC where the arenas are so large that unless you are up close you just don't feel part of it. I felt part of the show last night and it was an absoultely fantastic experience and whats more the boys on stage seemed to be enjoying it aswell with the small stage really bringing them together as a unit. I'm now looking forward to repeat performances at Nottingham & London next week - can't wait !
What a show! The guys were in top form last night and really got into it! Chris was having a ball, and Steve was jumping all over the place. Both of them did some incredible playing. Jon's voice was just perfect and almost all of the vocal harmonies were spot on. Poor Steve at one point during his solo spot, walked too far to the right, and the plug promptly fell out of his guitar! This was after he had already changed guitars once because of a faulty connection. He took it well, gave the audience a hilarious look and just kept right on playing while a roadie hastily came and plugged him back in.
The setlist was the same as the US one, and oh joy, oh bliss, to see and hear RSoG live at last! The audience gave the bad a standing ovation afterwards, and the friend I went with managed to make her way to the front of the stage and give Jon a crystal on a string. He took it and hung it on his mike stand, where it reflected the lights beautifully.
My other favorite of the night was AYaI, my all-time favorite Yessong, which they did splendidly.
It was obvious which songs the audience preferred, for while they applauded the 80s stuff and OYE, they were much more enthusiastic about the 70s classics, the solos, and CoL.
As a die-hard Wakeman fan I must admit, I liked Igor, and think he has a lot of personality on stage. He's obviously very talented and is really enjoying himself. Billy was quite subdued. To be fair, he's a good singer, and helps to make the vocal harmonies richer, as well as provide some support for Howe. But I'm still not convinced that he's necessary. A few times he left the stage briefly and I barely noticed.
It was a real treat to get Wakeman, Adam Wakeman that is, for Starship Trooper! He's a helluva player; takes after his dad! Cheers to Igor, for graciously giving him the place of honor for the last piece.
All in all, I was very impressed, and can't wait to see them again in April!
Well once again the guys have outdone themselves!
I thought they couldn't get much better than the chicago rosemont, but they did tonight! Hats off to Igor - for a guy who just got off a plane from the states this morning his playing was, to use words he would appreciate, 'something fucking else!'
Chris was fantastic, and despite the technical problems, Steve performed excellently as usual. Just a pity about the nobhead in the crowd who had to be told in broad manc brogue to 'SHUT UP YOU FUCKING DICKHEAD!!' which eliceted a round of applause from the rest of us. Steve's new piece, 'Corkscrew', showed just how creative the guy still is with an acoustic guitar, and the performance of 'From The Balcony' with Jon was a joy to hear too.
I only have one very small complaint - the only set changes from the north american shows were the two pieces just mentioned. I for one wouldn't mind seeing a few more tracks from their recent studio endeavours.
All that said, the guy who absolutely stole the show was definitely Adam Wakeman. He came on during the encore to replace Igor for Starship Trooper', and without wanting to seem sentimental or biased, his solo spot was the highlight of the evening. I was stunned; in awe of this lanky, long haired prodigy who evokes thoughts of Rick in his youth - same build, style, energy and complete fucking genius. What a guy!!
America - pray Adam comes over next summer to guest at a few shows. He IS that good. I just hope he turns up at Nottingham on Sunday!!
It seems that Khoroshev cannot get a visa to work in the UK. Like most countries, the UK has restrictions on foreigners working here. One can obtain a work visa by demonstrating that you are an expert in a particular field and that no-one else could do your job, thus you are not taking employment away from a local. I would guess that this would be a line the band could be taking to get Khoroshev in. It also seems possible that it is Khoroshev's status as a *Russian* citizen only resident in the US (if I'm correct on that) which is causing problems. I don't know about work visas specifically, but others visas are easier to obtain between the UK and US than between the UK and Russia.
Once he can get into the UK, I presume he can then work in any EU country, which would cover most of the European tour. (The first non-EU date is not until 13 Mar in Switzerland.)
Yes appear to be looking for someone to fill in at short notice until they can get this sorted out. It is not going to be Rick Wakeman, so who?
Geoff Downes: must be the favourite. Yes were in discussion with him when Wakeman left last summer and he's been working with Howe since then. He lives in the UK. As far as I know, he is currently in his studio in Wales working on the next Asia album with John Payne, so he should be free. He obviously knows much of the Yes catalog, although it has been 18 years since the Drama tour.
Patrick Moraz: very unlikely. He's in LA and the band ignored him when he approached them following Wakeman's departure.
Tony Kaye: probably unlikely given that he is in semi-retirement in New York.
Trevor Rabin: unlikely as he's probably busy and in the US.
Adam Wakeman: call it a hunch and I'm probably completely wrong, but...Adam is currently in the country and available as far as I know and he knows at least some of the Yes catalogue, but what put the thought into my mind is that he plays on a cover of "Owner of a Lonely Heart" on Anderson's forthcoming solo album _The More You Know_.
Who else? It probably has to be someone in the UK, which rules out most of Squire's, White's, Anderson's and Sherwood's usual collaborators... which leaves Howe. There's Keith West, who's worked with Howe recently on _In the Grand Scheme of Things_ and one track of _Symphonic Music of Yes_? Or Steve's son Virgil, who plays keyboards as well as drums? Julian Colbeck, additional keyboardist from the ABWH tour -- is he in the US or UK?
Or maybe they could go on *without* a keyboardist with Sherwood handling most of the keys, perhaps helped by Anderson, White or Squire in places?
Henry is correct. I feel sorry for the people that left for the U.K. today if the tour is postponed. But I know of one keyboardist that Yes will probably get in a hurry. It ain't Rick, but he may be a very good
I have just had a call from a relative in the Isle of Man. Here's the story.
1) Igor has got his visa and plays.
2) Rick was asked when it looked unlikely. He refused (cos he likes getting paid). He suggested Adam.
3) Adam agreed and was lined up.
4) Igor's back in.
5) Adam will _special guest_ during the encore at Newcastle on Friday.
LIKE ALICE Cooper, who I saw late last year playing the same game, it's interesting to note that former forces of the 1970s are bowing to market forces and giving receding fathers of four exactly what they want; music with built-in cobwebs which reminds them of sixth forms back in the progressive mists of time. Yes play all the tracks that the most backward-looking heckler might request, much to the very apparent delight of a capacity audience.
Older and more technically proficient than they were then, they are able to noodle nonchalantly. Hulk-sized bass player, Chris Squire, flicks at his instrument, expending little effort in making it grumble magnificently. He pads about the stage looking like a northern wrestler – his crew-cut an admission of follicle loss ignored by guitarist Steve Howe, who looks ridiculous and mad with his patented George Martin cut. Howe plays as if he's had an extra finger grafted on to each hand. That's not a complaint. Vocalist Jon Anderson dresses in waistcoats that would have a blind man reaching for his sunglasses. Together with drummer Alan White these four from the original late Seventies line-up. Anderson's voice still makes those testicle-defying high notes.
Only two tracks from a recently released LP were apologetically dropped into an endless blend of Yes classics from LPs like Close To The Edge and Tales Of Topographic Oceans. These records were panned in their day for scaling melodically and structurally pretentious heights but they are obviously still held dear by this appreciative pre-crumbly audience. The fall-outs and infights are smoothed over in Anderson's polite introduction but Rick Wakeman is still missing. He is replaced by some grade-mashing youngster who plays with an equally ridiculous bluster.
That this group survive in any form after starting out in 1968 is fascinating. And that they play tracks from the 27-year-old Yes album with an almost punkish verve is some kind of marvel.
Yes will never make the Book of Cool, but for me and all the pre-punk pubescents here tonight, this Pixie bollocks which masks more look-mum technical flash than the average journalist would admit to enjoying, is the perfect expression of a mis-spent and honestly uncool provincial youth.