Hello again. Having seen Yes last week at the HOB in LA, it feels like the right time to come rejoin the fray. I've been away from here primarily due to a hectic life, but I've also stayed away because reading and posting here daily had begun to affect my enjoyment of the music. Initially, finding all these other Yes-heads increased my Yes obsession (or more accurately, turned my fandom into some sort of obsession.) This is/was a good thing. But after awhile, I really didn't want to know *all* the gory details...there *is* such a thing as too much information. I mention all this simply to give fair warning that I have no idea what the "conventional wisdom" is here re _The Ladder_ and this tour. The opinions I'm about to express are blissfully my own...arrived at in my own happy little vacuum.
Having read some reviews of the shows at Yesworld, I deliberately decided in advance that I'd wait a few days before writing. All the reviews there seem to be "Just got home from the show and HAD to say just how MAGICAL it was." I've seen some magical Yesshows, but I've seen some semi-mediocre ones as well. I get the feeling these people are of the "greatest band in the universe/positive life-force" school. I was never one of those, and a.m.y would have beat it out of me if I had been. That said, I must admit that while driving home, I had to fight the urge to post a review immediately...because....turns out...it WAS pretty fucking magical.
Four hours before showtime, I remembered that a friend's wife had some sort of vague HOB connection, so I called her to see if she could get us any sort of "big shot" treatment. I won't bore you with the story of just how distant that connection turned out to be, but she made a call, to someone who made a call, to someone who made a call....and within the hour we had dinner reservations at the private Founders Room upstairs...albeit with the minor inconvenince of having to deal with HOB employees being under the impression that we were "in from Chicago" for the show. Twice I answered the question "So how are things in the Windy City?" ("Fabulous!!" was my stock answer..)
The show itself was very, very, good. I was particularly happy that they included so much new material (six songs from _The Ladder_ by my count.) I think _The Ladder_, while no _Tales_, is the best record the band has made since _Drama_. There is a fresh, "organic" quality to a lot of the songs that I thought the KTA's and OYE lacked ("That That Is" excepted) I like "Mind Drive" as much as the next guy, but it seems rather laboured compared to the best stuff on _The Ladder_. And perhaps I'm a heretic, but something like "Nine Voices", delivered as spectacularly as it was, was every bit as exciting as "Close to the Edge" would have been for the umpteenth time.
A few notes:
Jon Anderson, simply gets better and better. It really is something to behold. (No, B, he's not "an angel")
Maybe it's the smaller setting, maybe it's the smaller man, but Chris Squire was a "little" more subdued this time...and that's a good thing. He now just appears to be a guy who's really enjoying himself onstage, not borderline lunatic.
Billy and Igor are both very good additions...and appear to fit in much more seamlessly this time.
"Awaken" would not be hurt at all by some judicious fat-trimming, as they've done with "Roundabout". Get that sucker down to 9 minutes or so.
If Steve Howe hates "Owner" so much, how come he saved his most incendiary solo for it? Just channeling his rage well??? Simply stunning. My friend leaned over during the solo and said "He's either about to take flight, or spontaneously combust!"
Post-show, we headed back up to the Founders Room. I was midway through my second cocktail, when I found myself standing right next to Alan White. I congratulated him on the great record and tour, and asked him "Why is *this* record so good?" He said that they were a "real
I was yet another Yesfool at the HOB in LA (and I'm 21 also, to answer that thread), I went Tuesday and Wednesday. Overall I had a fantastic time, despite the fact that I have a cold :Þ
On Tuesday I went with another Yesfan whom I had met online(and bought a half-price ticket from). I decided to stay in the middle where I figured the best sound would be.(I brought my little tape recorder with me) I found a spot right at the top of the stairway which was good for me since I'm really short, but had the downside of people pushing to get through every once in a while. The accoustics in the HOB weren't the best, and there was also the problem of bar noises coming from behind me, but it wasn't really that bad at all.
I thought all the new songs came off well(They played Homeworld,IWBAGD,Face To Face, The Messanger, 9 Voices, LS), particularly Face To Face.
But The highlight of the evening for me was Awaken. I had never seen them play it before, and it was such a moving experience for me that I was WEEPING near the end of the song! It had a very special effect of me. I was mesmerised from the first notes of the song and had goosebumps all over.
Jon was happy and energetic both nights, hopping around playing his harp...that was so cool, seeing him with the harp. I've actually never even seen a real one before! Steve looked rather glum the whole time. Some people who were at the show told me that Billy Sherwood was late coming on stage. Funnily enough I didn't notice! His side of the stage was blocked for me the first couple of songs. I was also told Igor was crouching down and smoking a joint on stage! Did anyone else see any of this? Well, whatever went on that night, they were definately more "on" at Wednesday's show. Chris and Igor were much more animated.
I got to the HOB super early Wednesday so I could get a spot at the front of the stage. When I was walking back from my car I ran into Billy Sherwood(not literally). Unfortunately I had nothing for him to sign, and I couldn't think of anything else to say but "nice to meet you", but it was still cool. Now being right at the front of the stage was a totally different experience. I was between Jon and Chris through most of the show and I was able to make eye contact and exchange smiles with both of them. They were so close to me, I could have reached out and grabbed their legs! I could see Jon's Uvula! At the end of the show I was graced with a high-five from Igor. Wow!
After the show I made some friends and stayed out late talking Yes, before my hour long drive home to Costa Mesa. I'm still recovering from laryngitis.
And that concludes my 5th and 6th time seeing Yes. The crazy thing is everytime I see them I want to see them again even more. They better get back here soon!
YES has been my favorite band for the past 27 years. I saw my first concert at Winterland, San Francisco, in '74 (the Tales Tour), and I've lost count of the shows since then. That having been said, this was not a great YES concert, but it is my favorite of all.
This tour is focussing on the smaller venue, making the shows very intimate. I'm very glad the House of Blues had a general admission floor without reserved seating. I was close enough to tickle Jon's TEVA sandals, and count the freckles on Squire's shins.
I showed up early and met some old friends (hi, Roxi/Michael) outside before the show. By 5:30 there were about 20 of us, and since we were well behaved at certainly looked like the kinds of folks who'd drop money at the bar, the HOB staff let us in early (though we couldn't go downstairs to the floor until 7:00), and shut the doors behind us. YES was doing their sound check. That was fun. Afterward, the entire band left except for Howe. Steve remained on stage for about a half an hour, taking his quiver of guitars through a final check and playing snippets of old favorites, including a few wonderful bars of Santo & Johnny's "Sleepwalk" on the steel guitar.
I won't bore the reader with details that have already been mentioned by others. As has been previously mentioned, there were minor instrumental glitches, and Jon muffed the closing lyrics to "And You And I". From where I stood, right at the stage between Jon and Chris, the sound was muddy, but I expected that. I'd wanted to study Squire's technique and I knew I'd be sacrificing the subtleties from the guitars and keyboards. I assume the mix was better farther back.
The band was energetic and exuberant, but seemed to lack a commitment to perfection. Strangely enough, this is precisely why this show will be remembered as my favorite.
Look at it this way: when you go to dinner at Spago, you expect Wolfgang Puck (or his subordinates) to give you a great meal; great tasting with presentation a key part of the dining experience. But if Mr. Puck were an old acquaintance who invited you over to his house on a Saturday afternoon for some "snacks" and a good bottle of Pinot, you wouldn't care about the presentation of the food. You'd be there to enjoy the company and the conversation. The food would be incidental, a reason for the gathering.
This is how I felt at the House of Blues. I've been close to the stage at other larger venues, but this was different: warmer and lighter. I felt invited to a backyard sing-along with old friends, men I'd known (albeit one-sidedly) for more that half my life, men who have made my life richer than it would have been without them. I felt I was there for the company. The music was incidental to the gathering. I had great eye contact with Squire on several occasions, and got a smile from Jon while I sang high harmony to his "Nous Sommes du Soleil." What more could I want?
Saw the first of three House Of Yes (aka House Of Blues) shows last night in LA. It was my first time at that venue. It was the smallest place I've ever seen Yes. Not a bad venue, if you're into the crowd thing. I enjoyed talking with some Yes fans, and dancing and bumping elbows with the crowd. I would have been fine except for a couple of obnoxious drunks in front of me. Idiots. "Shut up and listen to the show", if felt like saying.
So I spent the whole concert standing on the floor, in the center, and 10 feet from the stage. Including the lines to get in, I stood (or danced) for about 5 hours. I'll be there tonight and tomorrow, too. Tonight, I think I wander around a bit, check out the sound from different angles, and Thursday maybe just find a couple seats somewhere, since my wife is going with me. My feet won't be able to take two more nights like last night!
The set list was nearly the same as last Saturday in Anaheim, just a slight change -- no CttE! Boohoo! :( The show started promptly at 8:02, and ended about 10:20. A funny moment: Jon got distracted from someone in the crowd at the end of AYAI, and flubbed the words. So he put his hand to his ear, out to the audience, and coached them to sing the rest of the song, which they did pretty good. That was neat. However, I was just a little miffed at the end of Awaken. After Chris' final bass note, just before Steve plays his last little 'country' lick (oh, I hate that description), the audience started cheering so loudly that Steve was bothered and decided not to even play it. Arrgghh! So remember folks, wait until the song *REALLY* ends before going nuts. Steve's virtuosity just completely blew me away; his solos are mind-blowing, especially if your a guitarist like me. His playing makes up for his total lack of stage expression. He doesn't dance or make the facial expressions he used to in the old days. Maybe he's just focused. But Chris Squire is THE MAN! His stage presence is incredible!! Look it up in the dictionary - you'll see his name. He was jumping, twirling, dancing, all over the stage. He was having FUN! Jon was all smiles. Billy was the obvious Trevor Rabin replacement, playing all his parts. I couldn't hear Igor as well last night compared to Anaheim, I thought they needed to bring him out in the mix a little more. And Alan was, well, Alan. The imagery was pretty wild. Lots of eye candy for those into that.
I loved the show, but I personally preferred Anaheim, for a couple reasons:
Reserved seating (I had good seats) They played CttE (One of the top 3 favorites) Better overall sound Of course, I did hang around and chatted with some Yes folks after the show. Got to check out some of the bands equipment up close. They've got one of the most massive sound boards I've ever seen. Alan came into one of the bars there and was chatting with folks for a while, so I got to talk with him a bit. Igor came in for a minute, then left. I'm gonna try to get some pictures tonight. After over 30 years, this band is still just amazing.
Just a warning to all of you who like Yes but aren't necessarily hardcore fans who know most of their albums intimately. Based on last night's concert at the HOB in LA, their current setlist is a major disappointment to fans exposed to Yes primarily through their modest commercially successful work who have limited exposure to other material. You are likely to be bored by most of their concert and I would recommend not going if you're looking to hear any of the songs listed below. Many of you hardcore fans probably loved the event but many people there were not as knowledgeable on their music.
I grew up with my father playing Yes pretty frequently but I had to wait two hours during last night's concert before they played anything I had heard before. Some of the songs worked better than others but to play a set that only more "experienced" fans will recognize until the final song before the encore ("I've Seen All Good People") was to me a poor choice. Even if they had thrown "Long Distance Runaround" in an hour into the concert it would have been much more enjoyable for me and probably for many others in attendance and those considering going to their upcoming concerts.
By the time they reached the encore ("Owner of a Lonely Heart" and an "updated" interpretation of "Roundabout," they had worn me down and I was hardly in the mood to cheer. With Howe not playing lead guitar on "Owner"--perhaps because he hadn't originally, the song seemed to lack some of the punch he might have been able to give it. His playing was otherwise spectacular but would have been much more enjoyable with a different setlist.
On "Roundabout," though the group was comfortable with the psychadelic, somewhat rambling character of many songs and played several for 8-10 minutes, they felt it necessary to play a shortened version of "Roundabout" without the classic acoustic opening many fans, myself in particular, had been hoping for. Howe instead launches right into the faster portions of the song with an electric and while he played it well, does not convey the majesty of the original song.
In addition to the above comments, these are the songs the DID NOT play (can't give you a setlist because I didn't recognize most tunes):
Long Distance Runaround Hold On Rhythm of Love Changes It Can Happen Starship Troopers
Nice Voices was back in the set, and CTTE was out. It was beautiful.
Very enthusiastic crowd. A little too noisy in the quieter places, but what does one expect: this is Los Angeles...
At the coda of And You And I, the band got distracted by a couple of people off to Steve's side of the club. I couldn't see them from my vantage point, but Jon and Chris were cracking up over them. Jon forgot the words to the coda, and we wound up singing it for him.
Also, at the last big fanfare of Awaken, someone exploded a large amount of paper streamers over the floor...of course, they traveled up to the stage, and littered Steve's pedal steel, as he was playing....and then to top it off, his guitar failed at the very end of the song. He took it like a pro, though.
We're going to Thursday night's show too...a lucky week! :-)
Well, it's the day after. I wanted to make sure that what I was feeling about last night's concert was real, not just fallout from seeing the Best Band in the Universe. I am happy to report that what I felt last night is still with me. And that feeling is WOW!!!!
I've been attending Yes concerts for 22 years. While I have sat as close as the 2nd row at some shows, this was definitely the closest I have felt to the actual band at a show. Everyone (on stage) was very playful with the audience. Besides Jon's constant waves and smiles, both Chris and Billy continually acknowledged the crowd. As well, Igor and Alan were obviously diggin' being at a smaller, more intimate venue. Steve was the only one who looked a little "not into it", but eventually he opened up.
As for the venue, that was a trip! I felt like I was back in England in '69 or '70 seeing Yes at one of their first shows. We were so close, and the band was very inviting. The LA House of Blues, like I'm sure the other's are, is a very "traditional" club, complete with bars all around and no seating in front of the stage. We got there at 7:30pm. The show was over at about 10:15pm. We stood the WHOLE TIME! But, I didn't notice because I just couldn't stop moving! Every song seemed to "rock" more than usual (even the older stuff like AYAI and Perpetual Change). The band's playing definitly was/is top notch. I remember some reviews of the OYE tour saying how good the band was then. I think they have outdone even that tour this time around.
As for the setlist, I was satisfied. The new stuff was jammin'. When they got into the groove on Homeworld, I happened to look around at the crowd and EVERYBODY was groovin'. It looked like I was at a Red Hot Chilli Peppers' concert. And of course, everyone knew all the words and was more than willing to sign along (especially when Jon spaced on the lyrics at the end of AYAI and asked us the finish it for him). Yeah, it's easy to complain about them leaving out CTTE, but to hear Hearts for the first time since the 90125 tour, or to see/hear Nine Voices live, well it all evens out over time. Also, Awaken!!! I really thought we would never hear that again unless Wakeman made a special appearance or something. I've said it before and I'll say it again, Igor is Rick all over again. And it's not just his copying of the parts live. Take a listen to The Ladder and you will hear many 'Wakeman-ish' synth parts that make you stop and say, "Was that...?, Nah!"
If anyone reading this is still unsure about securing tickets to an upcoming show let me give you some advice, GET THE TIX!!! This was my 12th Yes show, and they keep doing it better every time. No one should miss this show. It's more than worth every penny of the ticket price, and every minute of standing.
Cherokee Blackhorse Wilson
I have been nagging Jim Ladd of KLOS to play more YES for months. For my efforts I get to hear cool things that never get played on the radio.
Jim is lucky to have a "Free Form" radio show from 10pm to 2am weeknights which is now the #1 radio program in the southern CA market.
If anybody would play THE Ladder it would be Jim. Sept. 28 comes and goes and still no airplay. I call Jim...they still don't have the CD. Mid October they still don't have it. I get frustrated and take my copy to Jim and plead with him to listen to it and play it. This is on a Thursday night. Tuesday night rolls around and at 10 pm I hear the opening bass riff of The Messenger issuing from my stereo! Call to Jim..."Is that my copy or did the station finally get one?" Jim: "It's the station copy but thanks I got to listen to it over the weekend and it's a great album. I really like The Messenger and there's some other songs I want to use on Headsets" (an hour long feature that delves into whatever's going on in Jim's head expressed through related musical pieces). Jim's been playing Homeworld almost every night and everytime he plays it he says "isn't that just a beautiful song?"
So he tells me they have lined up YES to be on Jim Ladd's Living Room (JLLR) on Nov. 2nd at 10pm. Great, so now I have to decide whether to try to win tickets at the House of Blues or to JLLR. Obviously I opted to go to JLLR.
I won the first pair of tickets on my first call. Jim is so happy I won he puts me on the air. When I get to the station and meet my fellow YESheads it seems I am now somewhat of a celebrity as several people heard me win and they go "Oh wow, You're Cherokee! Jim's been talking about how much he wants to meet you".
JLLR is this cool thing where they have a room at KLOS set up so that it's this really intimate thing like being in Jim's living room. The audience sits on bean bag chairs with lava lamps around and they feed you and they have great bands come in and play and do an interview with Jim and answer questions from the audience.
I took a young friend who's a singer/lyricist in a struggling local band called The Mystic Love Gods who play interesting early 70's flavored prog rock ala the Doors if Iggy Pop had become their singer after Morrison died. I have been inundating him with YES for the past year and a half since the OYE concert.
We arrived at the station and while we were in the lobby we were able to hear and see glimpses of the band rehearsing through the blinds. We filed into the room and filled up the four rows of 5-6 bean bags. We made up an audience of 25 -30 people including station staff. We were on the left side 2nd row right in front of Steve and Jon. People in the front row were right at Jon, Chris' and Steve's feet. The poor guy in front of me had to endure my drumming on his bean bag and my Indian yells that are similar to Xena's but he just smiled. There was this stage that was maybe a little bigger than Alan White's drum kit.
The band came in and was introduced. It was an amazing experience to be so close. Steve and Billy played accoustic. They both had on slacks and casual shirts, both monochrome black and grey . I don't know enough about Steve's guitar to tell for sure what it was but it might have been the Martin. It had nylon strings. Chris had the green Meridian and was wearing his stage outfit, the green button down with the white cuffs and the white "knickers" with the Doc Martins which had the tongues off center so his white socks showed though. Igor was in the back behind Steve with a single Yamaha keyboard and also dressed casually. Billy was behind Chris with what looked like the brown Carvin accoustic he had in the tour book picture with the spiky hair. Jon was between Chris and Steve wearing black sweats with a House of Blues logo on the back. Alan White was the best dressed but was buried behind Jon sitting on this bean bag with one purple metallic tom-tom