23 years, 6 months and 15 days ago
Tuesday, November 16, 1999
My howe the mighty have fallen. Gone are the days of sold-out multiple shows at Chicago's best venues. Tuesday night Yes played the Riviera Theatre, located in a sleazy and crime infested area North of Chicago's downtown, it is a decrepit and sleazy old theatre with one bathroom in the basement. Actually, it resembled more a large bar. Moreover, had they not sold $10 general admission balcony seats they crowd would have been around 1000 at most. Howe sad that Yes must play in lousy places this. Of course, smoking was allowed so I guess it wasn't all bad.
Yes played almost as well as they did in Milwaukee on Saturday night, but I thought Igor looked bored and indeed, he doesn't even play all the parts Wakeman wrote for AWAKEN. While this show was most excellent, Yes almost always is, the venue left much to be desired. That Yes is playing lousy places like this is very sad. That so few people would attend a Yes show in Chicago without the lure of $10 tickets is even more telling. And I have to agree with many who have said Yes is playing too loud. They are.
I've just come home from the show tonite at The Riviera in Chicago, and wanted to jot down a few thoughts before I pass out.
As it was a GA show, I had to get there about 2 1/2 hours early to get a good spot in line. Who do think is right in front of me....(although it took a while for me to figure out)...Brian Neeson, The Aussies, and Yes Chef. It was interesting to meet some of these people that I've been corresponding w/ over these last couple years. Unfortunately there wasn't much of an opportunity to hang out, but hopefully there will be another opportunity. I especially admire someone like Brian, who found a way to rearrange his life and his finances to come from across the other side of the world to catch the shows here in the midwest. We here in the US take Yes a little for granted, as there are parts of the world that Yes never gets to. My hat's off to anybody that makes a trek like that, just to catch a show.
Lets talk about the show a little bit...I lost a lot of my usual "high irony" sense of the absurd today as it relates to the Yes guys. I managed to wangle a seat in the 3rd row, dead center on the aisle this time....so I had an EXCELLENT view of pretty much everything that was happening on the stage.
The Yes boys, did indeed bring ALL their toys to this gig. Lot's of instruments!!! If they ever do a garage sale, they could make a fortune.There were no surprises on the set list...this is stuff that has been getting talked about all over the place so there is no reason to elaborate on that.
The sound and light systems were not as elaborate as what we saw and heard on the last tour. It was pretty bare bones for a Yes show. Where we were sitting, the PA wasn't a big factor...I think we were hearing more of the stage sound than the house sound.
It's the first time in a long time that I had a chance to see a show that close. One observation that I had concerns Steve Howe. I've reached the conclusion that his decidely "un-jolly" demeanor might not have as much to do w/ him being unhappy, as much as that is his "shtick". Just as Jon has kind of grown into a very engaging frontman, I think Steve has adopted a very serious persona...more so than in his earlier tour of duty w/ the band. The way he stands after a song is over, the way he kind of (in a Dracula kind of way) glides on and off the stage (when he's not playing), to my eyes looks staged. His seriousness is part of the act. He won't give you a grin, but I could see him cracking half smiles to himself, at various points of the evening. He played his ass off though. No evidence of arthritus to my observations. The only song I thought he wanked on was Hearts. It didn't seem to me that his steel guitar licks on that song were as well thought out as his standard repretoire.
Jon was still hurting from his "flu". He sounded horrible when he was talking to the audience early on, but was amazingly on when it came time to sing. There was a little huskiness, but he hit the notes as well as ever. It seemed like it was giving out during the last part of the encore, but at that point it didn't matter. He did a fine job.
They let Billy step out a bit on Hearts, Cinema & Owner. I have to say that his guitar playing has improved from the last tour. I think he's probably at the level of an above average lounge cover band guitarist at this point. It was a huge improvement from the last tour. His vocals were very good though. He has an excellent sense of pitch and blend and does a good job of making his vocal contributions work well. They still have him on a short leash, but he gets a hearty handshake from me for doing a better job this time around.
Igor played his role very well as an accompaniest. He definitely has his parts down. This time around, they've really kind of de-emphasized the keyboard as a soloist. So what your left w/ is trying to judge Igor on how well he "recreates" the sounds from the records, which mo