This was undoubtedly one of the highlights of my Yes concert-going career. After grabbing lunch and buying a House of Blues souvenir mug in the gift shop for my wife, I joined the line outside the venue at around 1.30pm, finding myself third in the row. It was five-and-a-half hours to ‘doors open’, so as the crowd began to swell we enjoyed swapping tales of gig experiences and held places in the queue for one another to facilitate coffee and comfort breaks.
When we were finally let in it was a swift dash across the floor to nab the front row centre standing spot, right in front of Jon Anderson. The first time I’ve ever achieved that feat. There was time to take in the charming quirkiness of the venue and its characteristic bluesy architecture, but no way was I going to use the heaving, buzzing bar and risk losing my front row place. We were all being friendly, of course, but there was an edge of competitiveness for the best spots, too!
Then the first quite notes of the grand finale to Stravinsky’s ‘Firebird Suite’ opened up and the lights dimmed. The noise and anticipation was deafening as the climax came and the Yes men appeared, modulating the key and launching into a fiery version of ‘Yours is No Disgrace’.
This close to the stage we were getting the monitor sound, and I have to say it was probably the best I have ever experienced at a Yes concert – loud but clear, spacey and dynamic, but also detailed. It enveloped you in a wall of music. I was in heaven. “Homeworld’, ‘Perpetual Change’, ‘New Language’ and ‘And You And I’ were immensely powerful. ‘Lightning Strikes’ was light relief and had the floor swaying. We were on the crest of a wave.
Steve Howe began his solo cameo – a break for the rest of the band – with ‘Australia’ (Beginnings), followed, to my delight by ‘Surface Tension’ (The Steve Howe Album), which is one of my acoustic favourites. To round off we were given ‘Mood for a Day’. Perfect.
‘It Will Be A Good Day’ is an ideal way to reintroduce the band after Howe’s interlude. “Face to Face’ ups the tempo, and then ‘Hearts’ (the most traditionally Yes-like track from 90125) seems to fit well before ‘Nine Voices’. I love this set list – a balance of ‘70s, ‘80s and ‘90s Yes, with the emphasis on the classic period, fine production values, rich vocal harmony and full instrumentation.
It can’t get any better, it seems. Except it does. Because ‘Awaken’ is up next. Igor Khoroshev has the piano introduction beautifully constructed. The whole thing is an evolving dream, with the climax coming in the instrumental section (what is normally referred to as the organ solo) taking your breath away before the high-vibration coda.
It’s difficult to follow this, but if you’re going to, try something completely different – like the metallic sheen of the brief, fierce ‘Cinema’, driven by Alan White’s drums. A boisterous version of ‘Owner’ then gives the modest Billy Sherwood an opportunity to continue to show his guitar chops, with Steve Howe even seeming to enjoy himself, too. The conclusion is the Yes National Anthem, otherwise known as ‘Roundabout’, with Chris Squire’s bass thundering the pathway to a ‘House of Blues’ finale tweak. The roar of the audience shows the deep appreciation we have all felt on a magical evening. This is live Yes music at its finest and most powerful.
I lived "across the street" from the HOB in Lake Buena Vista during this time and I missed this show. That is one of the stupidest mistakes of my life. I really regret missing this one.
Tonight, by Jon Anderson's decree, the House of Blues became the House of Yes. I couldn't agree more.
The packed house, stoked for a chance to see Yes in a smaller venue, got their money's worth from the opening notes of "Yours Is No Disgrace". The band rocked hard, moving from older material to new effortlessly, seemingly pleasing everyone, including the band. Jon was by turns enthralled by the raputous crowd reaction to the band and amused by his power to make them shout just by waving his hand (which he did a lot). He was relaxed and charming, admitting to the crowd at one point that he had 20 years ago thought it would be cool to play Disney World. "See? Dreams do come true!", he joked. And his voice was flawless, a true wonder of the modern world, unaged in the decades of his career. This is one singer who doesn't skimp on the range live, and he delivered joyously, waving and swaying, his enthusiasm a clear distillation of the force of the band's message.
The set list was admirably uptempo and forceful. Strong readings of songs from THE LADDER were generously included, such as "Homeworld", "Lightning Strikes," and "Face to Face", which was absolutely nailed. As other gems like "Two Hearts are Better Than One" and a glorious "Awaken" wove into the mix, it became clear that the Yes magic was in full force, pushing the boundaries and celebrating the joy of a positivity rare in music these days.
The individual members of Yes shone, clearly feeding off the energy that was coming from the fans. Chris Squire in particular was resplendent in long white jacket and shortened trousers, punching the air with his bass neck to accent the battery of runs that emerged from it. His triple-neck bass brought a roar from the crowd as well. Drummer Alan White was precision personified, to the point that he almost got into a song before Jon was through introducing it at one juncture. He landed some powerhouse fills in the uptempo tracks and the usual finesse otherwise, debuting his newly-acquired skills on tabla ("studied in India, or an Indian restaurant, or somewhere like that", said Jon) on the tribal "Nine Voices" late in the set. And Steve Howe, despite some irksome lighting cues that irritated him at one point, was awe-inspiring, switching from guitar to guitar to pedal steel to what looked like a mandocello and back. Especially on the quieter acoustic passages, he wowed the crowd with his usual display of dexterity and warm tone. And yes, maybe he does look a bit like Clint Eastwood? I saw some James Taylor in there too, and that is a good thing.
The new guys did just fine as well. Keyboardist Igor Knoroshev held his own, despite being a bit low in the mix occasionally. His opening crescendo on "Awaken" was faithful to the original but less icy in tone, befitting the tune. And guitarist Billy Sherwood, while content to shade the music rhythmically for much of the night, got his chance to bridge the gap between the YesEast/YesWest argument with his steaming work on "Owner Of A Lonely Heart". He and Squire clearly were in sync, occasionally meeting for a joint movement or knowing look when the music was at its finest.
As the band ended the night with the requisite encore of "Roundabout", all seemed thrilled with how the night had gone. For the faithful it was a dream come true, and the band seemed satisfied and charged, happy to still be playing the music they love. And in a world not so full of it now, they showed some true magic. And that alone is more than most can hope for.
WE HAVE HEAVEN!!!!!!!!!!!!!
What a show!!! It had been 18 years since I last saw Yes live (Air force assignments were never near any concert sites). I first saw them on the Relayer tour, then Tormato and finally Drama. Needless to say, this tour did not disappoint me. This show meant even more to me because I was able to share it with my 17 year old son. I wanted him to see the difference between other bands and the professional musicians of Yes and HE SAW THE DIFFERENCE!
First I have to say that I believe "The Ladder" is the best studio album Yes has made since "Going for the One". If you don't feel the same just listen to the album again without any interuptions.
The House of Blues was the perfect place to see Yes up close. Excellent accoustics. The only thing I didn't like was the amount of talking noise around the bar during the entire show. This was alittle annoying but not enough to ruin my evening with Yes.
Jon was very animated throughout the entire show. Chris was Chris-the absolute greatest bassist in the world. Alan was right on (although there was no solo). Igor really impressed me. I didn't know what to expect after seeing the likes of RW, Moraz and Downes but I thought he was excellent. He looked relaxed and really displayed his personality. Billy also impressed me with his excellent vocals and guitar playing. Last (but not at all least) Steve was just magnificent! My all time favorite Yes memeber. Typical low key (almost embarrassed) appearance but oh how he played the guitar (or guitars - at least 13 that I counted). He was perfect all night.
To sum this all up, after so many years I couldn't have been happier. Seeing Yes is always like a spiritual experience. It's something that you'll remember for the rest of your days. If I was so tired after last night I would have driven up to Jacksonville for tonight's show. The Ladder's a great album, the show was excellent, Yes is as tight as ever and they're the only band that continues to give their fans great music throughout the years. There is a connection between we fans and Yes that I believe no other band can feel.
"What happened to this song we once knew so well signed promise for moments caught within the spell I must have waited all my life for this moment moment"
Thank you Yes for giving me a "Kodak moment" with my son and for all these years of Yes music.
They ended the 2 hr 20 min set with an add-on to "Roundabout". A blues driven ditty that consisted of the words.."Have you heard the news, Yes played the House of Blues"....a little corny but Steve played a GREAT blues solo in it. This was the first time I had seen Yes since their 1979 show in Lakeland, Fl and although I really couldn't follow them into their horrible 80s sound, I found the new pieces to be refreshing and fairly consistent with 70s Yes music. They are amazing performers and if you get any chance at all to see them, then you better do it! Go ahead and pay the bloated ticket price. It's well worth the cost.
The last thing I thought I would hear tonight was Gates of Dilerium and Sound Chaser. But I was wrong! They were the last two songs I heard at the end of my 100 mile drive home while in my car.
Seriously, the setlist was the same as for the previous three shows. I was at the two Tampa shows but this show was much different. It was the loudest Yes sing-a-long I have ever heard. Amazing what a change of venue coupled with a weekend night plus unlimited alcohol availability will do. I will give a longer update after I wake up in the am. I am now bummed that they are leaving my state and I hope I can find a way to catch them later in the tour elsewhere.
Best show of the tour, so far! Steve was on fire with passion. His solo in Yours is No Disgrace was...how should I put it? Wacky...off-the-wall...searing...mayhem...awesome, classic Howe improvisation. I have never heard the particular twist he put on that song last night. Anyone else remember that ? It was much different than the Yessongs version or any of the versions I have heard him play this tour or over the years. Quite exciting way to start the concert! Also, the Howe acoustic solo was different from the previous shows and very nice. He broke out the Spanish classical guitar and began with a beautiful piece that was not familiar to me (anyone know it?) and eventually transitioned to Mood for a Day. Having been to Tampa and hearing Clap both nights, this was wonderful.
Jon was very also, very cool last night. He seemed more relaxed, joking with the audience and actually saying things between songs that were not said at the previous shows! After the "This is the house of Yes" bit between YiND and Homeworld, he actually added to and improvised some of his between song comments. It really made the show seem more fresh...and like he was having fun too.
Chris was incredible as always. Alan seemed to be really on fire. The audience with only a few exceptions was ideal, from my perspective. Loads of positive vibes, singing along, very few shouts and whistles during the quieter passages!!!! YES!!! All in all, an incredibly wonderful night of Yes music.