I drove from Brussels to see Yes in Utrecht. My first "Yes" concert was in fact ABWH, in Brussels, November 1989. I was 18. It was the first time I had the chance to see Jon, Steve, Bill, Rick and Tony (don't forget Tony Levin is a great musician too) on stage (I saw Bill and Tony with King Crimson twice, since then). Two years later, I went to the Yes "Union" concert in Brussels (June 22nd, 1991). There, I had the great privilege to see my favourite musician of all times, Mister Christopher Squire himself! He impressed me very much, and I had to wait 7 long years to see him again.
This Monday March 9th, 1998, we arrived in Utrecht at noon. I was with my lovely wife, my brother and his girlfriend. We spent the cold and sunny afternoon visiting the city. At 6 p.m., there were already a few dozen people waiting at the doors of the Vredenburg's "grote zaal". The doors opened at 7 p.m., and we were in the 20 first people to enter. We rushed to be on the first raw, standing, just putting our coats on the stage! We were just in front of Chris Squire's microphone! I became more and more excited, waiting impatiently for the first notes of "Firebird Suite".
At 8.15 p.m. exactly (as written on the ticket), the magnificent opening began. The musicians slowly took place in the dark. And then, they appeared in the light and began to play a furious version of "Siberian Khatru". Just perfect: powerful and very inspired at the same time. The guys were enjoying themselves, especially Chris Squire. As we were just in front of him and his amp, his bass lines just flew through us with a deep and thrilling sound! Steve Howe's solo, during the final part, was far more inspired than the "Keys To Ascension" version. His enthusiasm was evident. And Jon's voice, well... simply beautiful!
Then, they played "Rhythm Of Love". Not a really good version, although I think it is a really good song. The crowd's response wasn't so warm this time. But the inspiration came back with "America". I always loved this song, I mean the Yes version. This is a great example of Yes music, even if it's a Paul Simon song. Yes kept the lyrics and some vocal melodies from the original, but they completely re-arranged the music and developed the song into a great musical journey. In that song, every note Steve plays is unique. Every bass line, every guitar riff, every drum beat, everything falls into place so evidently, despite the high complexity. Since the "Keys To Ascension" release, I preferred the live version. The only thing I found sad, with the 1996 version, was the "new" ending. Here, in Utrecht, they restored the original ending, with the suspended note, and they played the song perfectly! Nothing to add! Simply the best version I've ever heard!
Jon Anderson said some words. He tried to pronounce the word "Utrecht" correctly, then asked a woman in the crowd to say it the right way. She said "Utrecht" with the right accent, and he replied "That's what I said!". Then he explained they came by train from Amsterdam, because their hotel was there. He introduced the new song "Open Your Eyes", saying the new album was in the stores! I like the song "Open Your Eyes" on the album, but I have to admit I didn't enjoy it very much live. The tempo seemed different, and I think they didn't play it with great enthusiasm. Even Chris
Squire missed one bass note!
During "Open Your Eyes", we could see Billy Sherwood was more at the front (like during "Rhythm Of Love" and, further in the show, "Owner Of A Lonely Heart"). In fact, I like the guy, despite all that has been said against him. He fits very well with the Trevor Rabin's parts, but he's NOT Trevor Rabin. He's more discrete, I should say "polite". During the "classic" songs, he left space for Steve Howe, playing some rhythmic background when needed, and ONLY when needed! I remember the "Union" tour, where Trevor was playing louder than Steve Howe during some parts of "And You And I
The firebird intro started exactly at 20.15 and immediately got us going into another world. The end, which was played along by the band members blew off our head and Siberian Khatru started. Having seen them three times before (including 1977) it was a greay joy to see them at such short distance. I had read quite a lot of reviews of the foregoing concerts but had my doubts... These were completely washed away by SK which was played with enormous enthousiasm. All the members were enjoying it equally! We heard the first notes played by Igor an then allready knew that he's a great player. Personally, I would love them play just Relayer and TFTO complete so my enthousiasm was tempered when they played Rhythm of Love and America afterwards. I thought I like the latter song but didn't like it this time. So my first impressions were tempered as well as the overal audience. To make things worse, Open your Eyes was played. Now I know that some of you like this song and album, but I don't. Personally, I think OYE is the worst album they ever produced. The shock, in that manner, was even bigger, since I think the studio tracks from KtA2 are the best they ever did in 20 years! I think the crowd didn't like it that much either, there was a kind applause. Then they played And you and I. This was amazing! It really sounded great with enormous depths. Steve's play was great as well as Igor's. The crowd and myself went wild! Now this is quite amazing for me to write this, because I knew the setlist and thought: Why have they play And You and I and HotS and SB and I've seen... and so on. Now I know! With such great power these songs are perfect and the crowd enjoyed it really. (In contrast with Rhythm of love and America). So I think Yes allways has to make a balance between songs everyone wants to hear and the real Yes-die-Hards-who-only-want-them-to-play-TFTO-and-Relayer-completely. OK, further we went with Heart of the sunrise. All members could show that they are masters on their instruments, in this song, ofcourse it was Chris, who did the headlining. He is Great! I am still having a bit of trouble with him doing the WestCoast Yes era, but he's definitely back! Maybe still a bit overweighted, but hey, did you see me lately! On the other hand he (but also the others) must have a great condition, playing every night with such inspiration. Anyway, HotS was breathtaking. After this, it was time for some relaxation. (Btw. they didn't do a pause) Steve Howe came up and played 4 songs. I've seen him do this about five times before and most of the time I think it's a bit a waste of time. But this time was different! He played Mood for a day flawlessly and really enjoyed himself afterwards playing two unknown things (countrylike, I think they're on his soloalbums but I must admit I don't know these to well, especially the acoustic tracks). The crowd, and Steve, really enjoyed it. He finished off with Clap (Oops not The Clap) and again, man is he enjoying himself (and us!) After that, Jon joined to perform 'From the balcony'. Now I don't know what you think of that but I think this is Yes unworthy. It sounds like the stuff Jon did with Vangelis on Page of life. I can write such a tune as well. Anyway, we weren't bothered by that because the performance was quite nice and Jon... well, he's Jon! The bandmembers returned and they went on to play Wondrous stories. When I read in the reviews that they replaced Children of light by Wondrous Stories I was disappointed. The disappointed comes from the fact that I like both tracks very much! Furthermore I was afraid whether Igor could catch the tone set by Rick Wakeman. Well, my hesitation quickly went away when they played! Wow, what a great moment. It reminded me of the 1977 concert and Igor played great. After that the time had come for Igor's solo. First let me tell you that he's a great keyboardplayer. He played all parts on all tracks much better than Rick Wakeman does on KtA. Furthermore, he really