Monday, July 20, 1998
Reno Hilton Amphitheatre
24 years, 8 months and 4 days ago
Due to logistic problems, I had to sell my ticket for the Woodinville, WA show, but I was able to catch Reno and Concord this time around. I'm a huge Yes fan and have been since '72. I try to see at least two shows per tour, so my memories are clearer. This time I drove to Reno from my home on the mid-Oregon coast (in Florence) and saw the show by myself. It was the most remarkable Yes show I have ever attended.
First, when I checked in to my room on the 11th floor of the Hilton, I walked in and threw the curtains back to discover the amphitheater stage was below and across from my window and Billy Sherwood was warming up for the sound check. From my room, I could see the U-shape configuration of the house trailers that made up the dressing rooms (and promoter's office, I later learned). As Billy tuned, I strained my eyes in the bright desert sun to hopefully scope out the other Yes men who might be outside. Then I saw a small person dressed in black with a sparkling gold vest and a long, light colored pony tail. I was sure it was Jon. . . until she picked up a case of Coke and carried it into the buffet tent. They all eventually turned up and, not surprisingly, didn't hang around outside in the 103 degree heat very much. But they did get up on stage for a quick sound check. As they played a really terrible sounding bit of Siberian Khatru, I was frantically calling all my Yes friends and holding the phone against the window to record the sounds from below on their answering machines and voice mail systems. Evidence of my good, if lonely, fortune. The best was yet to come!
With a couple of hours until show time, I unpacked and wandered down to the casino to grab a mocha and look for a good sun hat. Just as walked out of the elevator, Jon Anderson cruised up to a slot machine and sat down. I didn't want to bother him, but I knew I'd never forgive myself if I didn't say something. I walked up next to him and lightly touched his shoulder. "I just wanted to say thank you for all the really great music," I said. He looked me in the eye and said, "thank you, so much," and he sounded really sincere. "Good luck," I said and was off. I'm glad I spoke to him, but, naturally, afterward I thought of about a dozen things I wish I would have said. I walked around the casino in a bit of a daze for awhile and was heading back to the elevator when I saw Billy Sherwood walk by. He was moving too quickly for me to say anything and I didn't want to pursue him through the casino. It gets even better!
It was show time and I found my third row seat and sat down in it for about 10 seconds before the hot Reno sun got to me and I moved over to a shady spot in the bleachers. A little before Alan Parsons began, a couple from the middle of the first row joined me in my shady spot. We struck up a conversation (as Yes fans often seem to do) and it turned out that they had won their tickets in a local radio contest. They also won a stereo system and backstage after-show passes. They went on to tell me about some of the other things they had won in radio and various other contests. They had won a lot of prizes! They mentioned that they weren't really big Yes fans, but the husband, Jeff, liked Alan Parsons. Of course, I told them that I had come all the way from Oregon and that Yes was about the only "rock" music that I ever listened to. By that time, Alan Parsons Project had begun and we walked back to our seats.
Alan Parsons was really good -- I'm sure I'll pick-up at least a few of his CDs as a result of his set. The surround sound was a nice feature, but I'm sure that Yes used an analog 4-channel system (with speakers in the back) back in the 70s. Anyhow, I got up to wander around during the break and ran into the couple I had met earlier under the tree. "Look," the woman whose name I've sadly forgotten said, "we know you would appreciate one of these backstage passes more than we would, so here. . ." And, she hands me one! I