It's Thursday-- 5 days removed from the shows at the Warfield in San Francisco this past weekend, enough room between to breathe and reflect.
I found myself so spent after this weekend—even caught a low-grade flu-ish bug yesterday. So much anticipation, the build-up, I was like a kid at Christmas time. I guess it's inevitable to have a denoument after the moment arrives.
The highlight of the weekend was getting together with on-line friends, transforming them from ASCII characters into flesh-and-blood brothers and sisters. As I got to the theater around 2:30, Anne (AYESMAMA) and Scott from San Diego (the doctor, I assume!) had already arrived, as well as a few others. I left at 3:30 for a pre-arranged meeting with on-line friends.
Djp (David) and his wife Mary, Brad (BS) Carpenter and wife Karen (in from Kalamazoo, Michigan!), and new recruit Terrence and friend Grace, as well as myself, met at a nice little Brazilian place pre-show. We fan-boys exchanged glory stories, while our female counterparts, fans but not fanatics, looked on bemusedly. We noshed on feijoada, churrasco, and a tuna melt for starving Karen (no pun intended), washed down by several Portuguese and Mexican beers (coffee for Grace). Really wonderful people—we were all touched by our cameraderie, old friends meeting for the first time.
At 5:30 we sloshed on down to the line a block away. Djp and Mary, and Brad and Karen had reserved seats, and went to relax a bit before the show. I hung in line with new friends Tim and Chris from a local audio company, and got to meet Roxi (blessings!) and her partner Michael. The attitude was high and festive as we traded stories, eyes wide like children. My brother George and his partner Heidi and her mom Pat arrived from 2 hours to the north, and when doors opened at 7 we grabbed a table at center stage for 6, as Terrence and Grace joined us.
Showtime!! Started right at 8, strains of Firebird pumping us—and off we go!! The set-up of the Warfield was a bit different from the last shows—they had removed the lower tier of tables, so people were standing just in front of us, where before they had been seated (and you could see over them). After being asked a few times by a friendly usher to SIT MY ASS DOWN, I had to go to the floor after Homeworld. After a bit more shuffling, I got to stand next to an aisle, finally enough space to physically experience the music (or 'rock out,' as some would say.)
Impressions: Alan was VERY VERY ON. His tempos (tempi? Tempe? tempeh?) were rock solid. People have been commenting on the 'slowness' of YIND, but the original (TYA) version is a bit slower than it's been played live over the years. Homeworld was FANTASTIC—I turned to Terrence after it, and said—Can you believe they've only played 2 songs so far?! Chris, thru the night, was also very controlled, no slop that I could see. I wanted to hear more though—the pedals came thru well, but his guitars didn't cut thru as much. Overall the mix was quite good, perhaps not quite as good as the last time they were here. This was definitely Alan's night, if I had to choose an MVP.
The main highlight was Awaken, but a close second was HEARTS!! I couldn't believe how much punch this had!! Billy was poised and confident thru the night, and his vocals were superb. More power to the Next Generation! For Awaken, I couldn't get my eyes off Chris—seeing him wield that triple-neck with such grace—wow, I'm glad I got to see it a second night so I could watch what else was going on! The 'Master of Images' section was so profound—so profound. I'm still getting the JAMS just thinking about it. This is my absolute favorite moment in all of Yes' music—it's like I feel the power of God, of all that is good and right in life, coursing thru me, a thousand million volts of lifepower, flowing down to my core, back to my heart and out the top of my head. At the conclusion I turned around, to my brother who was, yes
Show was excellent as expected. Quite a small venue - which I think made Yes sound very 'heavy' at times. Met up with Brian (Neeson) and had few beers before the show.
We were standing right down the front - bloody brilliant !
Awaken was a highlght for me. The songs off ' the Ladder' (six in all) stood up well amidst the old stuff.
They came on and broke into a very loud version of 'Yours is no disgrace" - what can I say !!!
The second night at the Warfield was by far the better of the two shows.
From the beginning of the show, Jon Anderson's voice seemed odd, not strained, but wasn't quite "on". After the first few tunes, he said, "I'm coming down with the flu, so if you want to sing along, feel free." Then during the next song, Chris turns to Jon and says, "Your mike's cutting out." Jon left the stage and came back with a wired mike and guess what, his voice was perfect! I found that humorous.
Ok, the show itself. The setlist was, once again, the same as the House of Blues shows. While during yesterday's show I was in front of Steve, this time I purposely stood in front of Jon so I could see Igor. As a bonus, I was able to watch Alan for probably the first time ever--it's strange, I hadn't really had a visual presence of Alan at any show except for the Union tour, and it was neat to watch him go.
Igor, my man! Sensational, no more comparisons of him to any other keyboard player. He *is* Yes' keyboard player. Awaken was pulled off amazingly well by this man--he's also become quite a showman. The next thing we know he'll be donning a cape and an aluminum foil suit--oh wait, shhhhh! that's comparing him to another player.
Steve, what can I say about him--great as always, although I would have liked to have seen him solo. No matter, he seems to be singing a lot less these days, as well. His playing, as always, is impeccable, and this show, he didn't seem to be having the problems he had yesterday.
Chris? Oh, Chris, thank you *so* much for not wearing the black spandex manhood-showing pants this year. THREE NECKS! No wonder he's been in better shape the past few years--that bass has to weigh a ton. You know the little finger thing he does when he points to a string with a loop and then plucks it? During Nine Voices he did that, although he wasn't wearing his bass--he pointed both hands at the bass pedal as he played it. Truly a classic Chris moment.
Jon! I have to say that his wife has brought him down to earth quite a bit. Instead of talking about mysticism in everything right down to the tiles on the floor, he now talks about his wife, and the beauty he's found in his life as a result of her being in it. This is not a bad thing--Jon's voice is still as crisp and solid as it's ever been. In fact, I was commenting about this to a friend the other day--is it me, or does Jon's voice sound purer now, at 55, than it did when he was 25?
All in all an amazing show--an amazing two shows. One more thing I do have to comment on, however, and that's the drug use at the shows.
Ok, it's a fact of life of being a Yesfan, I totally understand this. However, at both of these shows, there were people who overdid it. At yesterday's show, the guy in front of me staggered and almost fell over onto me. Tonight, a young woman fell onto the floor, and we all thought she had passed out. When I looked down, she had gone into convulsions. During Owner of a Lonely Heart, her and her friends made their way out of the auditorium. Before this happened, however, they were causing problems in the audience in front of the stage, they were more interested in having their little group hug and pushing/shoving everyone around them than they were in Yes. It's sad to say, but we were glad when they finally left due to her "problem". My point is FINE, I understand if you feel that you must alter your mental state to the point of barely remembering the show the next day, but MUST affect everyone around you in the process? It's bad enough having to endure the smoke around me, but to have a distraction to the point of not being able to enjoy the show, it's gotten a bit out of hand.
OK, off the soapbox. At the end of the show, Jon said he'd see us again in the year 2000, so hopefully they'll make their way back around like they did in 97/98!
If Saturday was a solid B, tonight was an B+/A-. The crowd was lots more spirited and festive and the band immediately keyed on it, especially Steve who turned in a markedly better performance. Still no smiles but you just *know* when Steve's having a good night by his playing and body language.
Same setlist and, contrary to what some have said about the L.A. shows, I thought the sound here was terrific, at least for the Warfield which is a house better suited for rocking than for perfect acoustics. I was amazed at the amount of chain-dope smoking taking place all around me (I was in the pit, in front of Billy) though thankfully the spastic-wasted-ogre quotient was very low.
--Jon's vocals clipped out in a few spots through the first two songs. Afterwards, he asked forgiveness for "croaking" through the show as he suspected a flu bug coming on. Before the break in PC, Jon's vocals became rapidly flaky and Chris jumped over and told him to get a new microphone. He returned with a corded one and finished the song fine, after which he was breathing a sigh of relief, thinking it was *him* that was going buggy, not the mike!
--The roar at the end of And You And I was deafening and sustained. --Awaken was even more powerful tonight. Unbelievable.
--During the drum break in Owner, Steve watched in amazement as Igor polished off half a bottle of beer! As the foam slid down, Steve just stood there, shaking his head.
--Saw Mike Tiano of Notes From The Edge there (the man is hard-core! He's doing 6 shows!). I asked him about the "Phone your radio station" push and he says that it's the band's idea and that they've wanted to do it for some time but have only just now gotten them the list of stations. I mentioned that only 2 California stations are listed and he said to e-mail them with suggestions for others. We bemoaned the sad state of radio today. He also said that Australia and the Far East are *not* definite yet but that a Spring or Summer 2000 return to the U.S. is likely.