The second and third shows in The Ladder Tour seemed as a counterpart of Open Your Eyes tour - as the band was the same, they preferred to change all the setlist than carrying a same one along 3 years. The new setlist was based in 3 points.
"Change we must as surely time does" (Ritual) "Only weakness can stop you from hearing new languages" (New Language)
One: they kept few songs, those preferred among the masses, namely Roundabout, All Good People and Owner of a Lonely Heart. Many classics that were ever thought as essential were dropped, starting by the opening act Firebird and including And You And I, Heart Of The Sunrise, Siberian Khatru, Starship Trooper, Wonderous Stories and many others.
"The history of the future was surely made" (Homeworld) "We'll both remember all those many years ago" (Turn Of The Century)
Two: they brought back classics which weren't played for a long time, that is, Yours Is No Disgrace, Perpetual Change, Hearts and Awaken - the wakening highlight of this tour.
"Stand awhile, we search our past, we start anew" (The Remembering) "Show me how you got this award for being alive" (Lightning Strikes)
Three: the new pieces are good enough to allow all these changes ! And they're too interesting, for it's possible to find a lot of references to minor earlier songs inside The Ladder, like they were redrawn for a clearer understanding. And this works very well, as The Ladder sounds something epic, a definitive confirmation of the standing of Yes music resisting to any changes that music's world has been driven to.
One fact I can't hide: this show could cause some deception for those who didn't see OYE tour last year and expected the classics. But for those who watched OYE tour, it should be a very pleasant show. The band wanted it this way, as it could be noticed in their expressions. Steve, specially, seemed very happy with everything, and Jon and Chris were always asking to the audience for clapping him. The audience was much younger than last year, and received them with an enormous enthusiasm. The venue was full. I wonder if Yes will receive an acknowledgement as great as this in another part of the world. The cabalistic date 9.9.99 was reminded and shouted by the young audience as to be never forgotten. In the end, Steve led the six musicians to incline and thank the audience - once, twice, three times ! During "America", Jon sang "São Paulo seems like a dream to me now". We hoped they really felt so.
Billy Sherwood is much better than last year, now he played almost like Trevor on Hearts and Owner of a Lonely Heart, the punk boy is really a good pupil. Igor Khoroshev made a really good work on the new album and has definitively consolidated his place as a Yes member. Starship tourist Alan White, wearing shorts as always, also appears well on the new songs. The band lives an excellent moment of equilibrium.
Moments not to be forgotten:
Yours Is No Disgrace and Perpetual Change - these oldies became something interesting for having Steve Howe and Chris Squire in a duel - sometimes they even danced as having a fight ! It seems that the respect and proximity between them became greater than ever, now that they share the mission of being the main players on the stage. It's a shocking contrast between Steve, distilling his intricated harmonies, and the bass maniac Crusher Striker, playing in an extremely heavy-load style. Chris blasts his bass like a terrorist, but his strength is not on his amplifiers but on the nitroglycerine dissolved in his blood plasma. Impressive. Destroyer.
Lightning Strikes - near the stage, watching the acoustic intro of this song with Steve and Jon is something surprising. Someone who hears it on the radio and doesn't like at first it may be caught by the joyful calling from Jon - touching !
New Language and Nine Voices - the main pieces from
I just finished to watch the show in São Paulo (09.09.99) and talking sincerely, I expected it much more. Instead get saying that the "atmosphere was magic"," the guys had a smiling in their faces" and all these bullshits, I could say that was a new Yes... The new songs were just ok (comparing with KTA I and II, specially "Mind Drive" they were ridiculous) and I really missed Rick Wakeman. Igor Khoroshev and Sherwood were just a shadow on the stage, doing their performances without criativity.
About the classics, how many times do we have to stand the same "Seen All Good People", "Owner of a Lonely Hearts", "Roundabout" and "Hearts"? Why not "Sound Chaser", "South Side of the Sky", "To Be Over", "Machine Messiah" (with Jon singing!!!), or "The Remembering"? To me the show it seemed very LAZY, with the clear intention just to promote the new Ladder songs.
Ok, there was Steve, Chris, Alan and Jon, making their always best (Perpetual Change and Awake worth the ticket). But... I don't know. There was something wrong with the Yes "magic". Maybe, could be a new magic for a new century... Sorry guys. I'm an old fan and don't agree with songs of five minutes and a pop syle. Hard to believe that after "Mind Drive" they were follow this way.
So, it's easy to understand the reason that Wakeman split the band.
Again I arrived right now from the hotel... Chris very king again... Alan, Igor and Billy too, as always... Jon with Jane, no way for chat again... Howe? I didn't see him ... What a great Show!!! The best of two...
New Language - What a introduction!!!
THE CLAP - Wow... Howe was very happy, and did a little spanish piece in the middle of Clap... people didn't stop the "claping" one second... he finally said something, he actually screamed something: "Thank you very much"... Jon introduced him as "an incredible guitar player"...
It Will Be A Good Day - it seemed better today... a good Howe solo at the end...
Owner of a Lonely Heart - Billy did it very good today... Howe was superb at the end...
Hearts - Wow... who said something about two guitars? Howe left the stage at the end of Owner, but cameback in Hearts since "One heart's for love..." to the end... he did an incredible slide solo!!! VERY VERY GOOD!!!
Nine Voices - It is so much similar to Your Move... but beautiful...
Awaken - I always though that Awaken would be great alive, but it is too much!!! When Jon hangs up the harp... wow!!!
To Feel Alive - EVERYBODY SINGING THE "YE-YE" PART BEFORE THE BEGINNING OF THE MUSIC...
I've Seen All Good People - in the two days a different intro, with Jon singing and Chris playing like in the middle of the music, and then Howe's Vachalia...
Jon sang alone again some little excerpts of Yesmusics... I remember of CTTE, TaaW and Ritual... he also sang a few times "São Paulo, Te Amo" what means "São Paulo, I Love You"... and some traditional São Paulo's songs... ah! yesterday he sang in America: "São Paulo seems like a dream to me now"... he said that was a pleasure begin tour in Brazil, that they were very pleased for us to sing in the new songs that we never heard before... said that tour will follow until 2000... and SAID THAT THEY WILL COMEBACK TO BRASIL IN 2001... THANKS JON! YOU'RE THE GUY... YOU WILL ALWAYS WELCOME HERE IN BRAZIL...