The second day of Yes' short tour of Poland was perhaps the most satisfactory. There is not much to be said about this show specifically, since the evening was rather uneventful - and, as the other two reviews will have indicated, an uneventful Yes concert is precisely the Yes concert to be wished for...
This was the largest venue of the three: a huge, round sports hall called Spodek (which is "saucer", very much the actual shape of the edifice) in the center of Katowice, in the south of Poland. The building is far from beautiful - or comfortable for the audience - but it is Poland's largest hall, seating well over seven-eight thousand, and most Western bands give their shows there.
Aesthetics and comfort aside, another deficiency of the hall is the acoustics. The acoustics are just bad there. It was really designed as a place for large indoor sports events, and the idea to use it for rock shows must have come too late in the design, or altogether after the building was completed. This time I had a seat well into the back of the hall and high above the stage: from my vantage point I could see the musicians' faces but not their facial features, could see hands but not fingers. The good thing about it was that I was able to view the whole stage and that, unable to see the details, I could easier concentrate on the music itself (in Warsaw it was a tad hard to focus on the music when I could just watch Howe's fingers do their fast magic on the fretboard instead). The bad thing was that, where I was sitting, the sound reached somewhat muffled, low on upper frequencies and certainly not loud enough. I cannot say if the sound engineer was in a position to fix this; I do know that despite frequent, impatient "louder!!" cries from the audience, the sound did not improve throughout the show.
And yet it was the best show of all three. First, it was absolutely flawless. No big disasters like the two in Warsaw, and no small flubs, either. Just smooth and nice and easy all the way through. Yes have spoiled us fans with their drive towards perfection, and perfection of performance was what we expected and received in Katowice.
Second, the previous day's uneasiness on the part of the band was completely gone: Yes were all confident and obviously in high spirits. This was immediately apparent to me as Siberian Khatru started off with kick and disciplined vigor. Howe's solo in the closing section was right on the spot and I loved to see him actually jump on a high note; I never saw him do this during the other two shows. Jon, too, managed to cast off his initial apprehension. This time he was chattier, funnier and more confident about his rapport with the audience and about his own voice, I thought; he sounded louder, clearer and "brighter" than before.
With this comes a little regret: it is the second show that should have been broadcast on the radio, not the first one. I don't know how significant the difference was really; it was probably been as much in my mind as in reality, but at least there wasn't a single technical trouble, and I don't think I could be that much mistaken about the sheer energy the band was projecting off their stage the second time.
Lastly, the third difference. There is something special to seeing not a thousand, but in excess of seven thousand people, fellow Yes fans, gathered together in the spacious hall. From my first row in Warsaw I had to turn back to take a peek at the audience; in Katowice I had at least half of them in front of me, below. The deafening applause... And more. During Steve Howe's acoustic intro to And You And I I closed my eyes for a moment, and when I looked again, I saw dozens of little points of light scattered over the darkened, hushed hall. Many of those sitting on the ground level lit their cigarette lighters and were holding them high above their heads. I don't know if it's a specifically Polish custom or if people do this sort of thing ever