23 years, 6 months and 9 days ago
Friday, November 19, 1999
Royal Oak, Michigan
Royal Oak Music Theatre
This morning I awoke to a great anticipation of great things to come. Our fellows from overseas, friends I don't see enough and family true blue had just had an evening breaking bread and sharing our stories. The love of life!!
I stopped by the lodge and the boys were still anchored in dreamland. It was about 8 AM. I ventured to do my errands and off to my new love's home a half hour away. Upon heading out I'm reminded that I have to call Jan Carol before I leave the Grand Rapids area. She's staying in the Lansing neighborhood. After arriving to Laurie's and then preparing for the drive. It's getting on late morning. I call the number Jan left me. I get an answering machine. I then call the cell phone # she left me and Jan answer's immediately. The other line was tied up by Our Field Correspondent...Jan Carol, being on line corresponding...:-). We talk and arrange to meet where Laurie, myself along with our friends Ollie and Chris will be staying. Anyway, we head out on our 2 1/2 hour drive to rain. It rains and rains and rains. We finally get to our destination and who is right behind us?????????..........Jan!!!!!!!
We then work on finding where The Aussie's and the Scot are staying. They had told me a couple miles from where I was staying. Well after trying a few hotels in the area, Jan Carol seems to think they're staying at a Ramada Inn. The phone book doesn't even list the Ramada. So disgusted we look up and out the window of our new suite and in BIG LETTERS is a building with RAMADA INN heading the skyline. Right across the way Jan Carol heads out to investigate and be a 'Field Correspondent'.
Minutes later she gives her field report of success!!! We are to meet them at the venue. Time is getting short as far as getting in line. Also the Friday 5 o'clock traffic is starting to congest the highway. We head out to Royal Oak.
It's only 4:30, it's raining steady and there's a line formed along the sidewalk to the entrance of the marquis saying YES. We drove around to find Rumours to meet my girlfriends twin. I had not met her yet. We 'finally' found the place and broke fried food. Kitty was a genuine person and we ate and then embarked through the wet environment to The Royal Oak Theater. As we surveyed the situation of being a late arrival we run into Dave, Douglas, Mike, Brian and Jan Carol. Of course we were there before and they were just holding our place in line... ;-). I had my digi camera and Douglas informs me that they are not even allowing the umbrella's in. So back through the rain I hurriedly head back to my vehicle to leave my camera behind. I then run into a couple good friends from Grand Rapids, Dan and Tim who I've known throughout my original rock band days in the 80's. When I get back the line has moved into foyer. I'm not with our entourage. I patiently wait, 'Finally' they open the doors. I head down front and place my butt right in front of Howe's rig. With my chin on the stage, my jacket laying itself on Steve's monitor and arm able to adjust his 'Danelectro' effects box, I feel right at home. Now to defend our little space, our little 'Homeworld'.
I look back and find our Aussie's, Scot and Hoosier in the front row of the balcony and having seats to sit. I wave my arms till I get their attention. Too Cool!!! We have it covered. This is where Jan gave her review.
I want to give my review from my perspective of a 'double chin on stage' viewpoint. Jan is very perceptive and I read many things I didn't see or have a vantage point to comment on. But, keep your eye out for my different vantage point, to give dimension to this show!! Should be interesting........I hope.....:-).
Back to the anticipation. This is already too long so I'll just say...the show was great and the moments will live forever and I'll post my review tomorrow. We saw a high energy show. I saw Steve's eye's well up or tear up at the beginning of AYAI and I felt the front of the stag
It's getting harder to write now: it's been awhile since the Detroit show (not as fresh) and with all the shows I've seen, it's harder to distinguish between them.
The Royal Oak had better paint, and was in a much better neighborhood than the Riviera. The well-lit marquee proclaimed "SOLD OUT" (though I later heard this was accomplished through radio promotion, as well). Rain. A really loud mouth in line who insisted on singing flat versions of songs at the top of his lungs (or if they weren't at the top of his lungs, they were at the tops of our ears!) and proclaiming loudly his favorite songs. I was amazed that anyone in his group wasn't a) embarrassed to be seen with him, and b) VERY weary of listening to him. I couldn't believe he had a female date! TRULY obnoxious.
We arrived at 4:30, and took turns standing in line. The rain was nothing compared to "The Mouth." We had a highly entertaining group composed of 3 Aussies, a Scot, and Mike LaFave, his friend from outer (inner?) space, and their girlfriends. One of whom had never been to a Yes concert before (YES! MORE converts!)
Inside the Royal Oak, they had taken out all of the seats. There were tiers, and you could lean on the rails at the front of the tiers (those were "good seats") OR, you could do as my small group did, and head for the balcony, where there were a few seats left. The staging also didn't include the raising and lowering of the YES logo at the back. When we arrived, there were towels over Igor's keys, and a guy kept looking up into the rafters as if there was a moisture problem. The show started 20 minutes late.
The setlist was the same. They had removed the Homeworld towers. (have they used them since, anyone? They were gone from Cincinnati, too - and I really missed them. I think they increased the "temple" like feel of the set, and gave a mysterious reflective glow to the staging and fractal lighting)
By Homeworld, I noticed that Igor was WAAAaaaaaayyy down in the mix. At "I have seen the passion," Chris and Billy were thumping a funky Reggae beat - the use of these funky dance beats in the Ladder songs are really appealing to me. There was, in Homeworld, no tempo change between "Home" and "hope" as I had noticed before. But the sweet soft ending - Steve's acoustic work - the dynamics were deep, moving, excelelnt.
In Perpetual Change, Igor added a steel drum & Alan a bass drum to form another Caribbean sort of rhythm. These coupled with Steve's harmonics (oh! Sooooo Sweet!) at "I see the coldness in the night" rang clearly through the hall.
I looked closely at Igor. I decided he wasn't cheating. I think what I though of as cheating before was a misunderstanding of what is happening on stage. Rick, when he is on stage is constantly using both hands. But it was pointed out to me at an SLO film, that he was, even as late as SLO, still using analog keyboards - so he NEEDED to keep both hands flying around to stay ahead of his tones, his voices, his next part. Since Igor is doing this digitally, he has more space with his hands. And if he filled all of that space, it would be too much. So he plays, dancing with his tambourine ribbons (trying to steal the stage from a particularly searing Steve solo!) I looked and listened for the "cheaters" I was talking about, and racked them up to bad sound at the Riv - or maybe he does cheat some nights and not others. It's good he didn't cheat at the Royal Oak, because the sound was so bad, that it would have been really obvious. It was hard enough to hear him as it was.
Again, I noticed on the Messenger - where he should be more up front, more present - that I could barely hear Igor. Jon forgot his lyrics, singing, "And though I can't remember, not afraid to learn new words!" At the end, Igor added in some improv lines which sounded like Russian folk tunes! Very playful, very enlivening to the performance.
It'll be a Good Day - there are no vocal L
I am not sure this is a worthwhile endeavor, but I will try my best to make it so.
The Royal Oak Music Theatre, in another life, was a typical, perhaps larger than average, small town movie house, complete with a fairly generous stage which might date back to vaudeville. When megaplexes killed the old downtown, one-screen movie houses, somebody bought the old Royal Oak Theatre, got a liquour license, and started hosting concerts. The inside of the theatre is nicely restored and maintained, except for one small detail: when the seats got ratty, they ripped them all out rather than replacing them. They kept the seats in the small balcony, perhaps a couple of hundred or so. I think I saw the typical fire marshall sign limiting occupancy to 4,500. The surrounding environs are considered to be the center of all Metro Detroit nightlife. The general area to the North (Birmingham, Bloomfield Hills) is one of the very richest in all the USA.
Quite a change from the Riviera in Chicago.
Virtually all were, as noted previouly here, "General Admission, Standing Room Only, 21+". The show was sold out, although tickets were available at least until last Wednesday. So, in a metro area of about 3,500.000 people, Yes sold out a 4,500 seat (?) venue in a great neighborhood on a Friday night.
The Logistical Problem:
My wife wouldn't go. I took my secretary, Gracie, instead. She is 73 years old. Never heard a single Yessong in her life until she heard me priming myself for the concert. Likes "Dark Side of the Moon", though. Never been to a rock concert in her life. Has always talked in Jon-speak without knowing it (really! I am not making this up). I should have guessed long ago she was a natural. Bought her "Classic Yes" and "Yessongs" on casettes two weeks ago. She made me print out lyrics from Yesworld. So, I have a date, and one with a handicapped parking sticker! Oops, she cannot stand for more than 15 minutes, due to an arthritic hip. (I have asked her to do a review, too. Might be interesting)
Arrived at about 7:00 p.m. The floor of the theatre was once canted for theatre seating. After they ripped out the seats they built flat terraces divided by railings, about three tiers in all. (Aside: World of Tiers is the best SF series ever!). The first riser stands about 20 feet in front of the stage. It is lower than the other ones. Gracie can sit on it with ease. Eureka !! I wonder at the time if the four enormous amplifiers 20 feet in front and a little left of us might not enhance our listening experience.
I just wanted to see them. I mean, see what they looked like, life-size. Two prior arena shows, way up in second decks, in 1974 and 1978. Had no idea what anybody looked like in three dimensions. Had pretty good idea what they sounded like. Now I am standing 20 feet in front of where Steve Howe would soon be playing his 13 guitars. I am feeling very, very good. Gracie is soaking it all in with a goofy grin on her face.
Trickles in. Ambient noodly music gently playing over large speakers. Males outnumber females about 8:1. Guess they could not get secretary or wife to accompany them. Crowd is at least two-tiered: Troopers or 90125 generations, but mostly Troopers. An ominous omen: many males carrying one or more 32-oz. beers, drinking joyously long before show begins. The mood is unlike anything I've ever felt. Everyone is exited, wide-eyed, giddy (drugs or alcohol?). They all are acting like they are all separately harboring the same, the identical, secret, one they feel that words would fail them to share. But, no matter, for the secret will be revealed and shared shortly, and they know this for certain, and they are happy. Roadies wander about the stage (thankfully, the stage is raised up about 5.5 ft. above floor level. Maybe Gracie can still see if she must remain seated. Trickle slowly becomes a
After a 200 mile drive in the rain, through road construction and speed traps, with time running out, following vague and suspect directions, we arrived at the "sold out" Royal Oak "Theater" with minutes to spare. Not wanting to miss any of the show, I had to eat my extra ticket (maybe I can "e-bay" it in 15 years) and went inside to find that the venue was *oversold* by about 30% beyond capacity and was more or less a fucking two tiered mosh-pit, a hundred degrees of humidity and beer sweat. Immediately abandoning my companions, I found a spot on the rail of the steps down to the main pit where it took about 30 seconds for the guy across from me to get his beer knocked out of his hand and all over my arm.
That was about when I started entertaining the thought that maybe there really is something psychologically unbalanced in a person obsessed enough to spend money to go through this kind of torture... and the Firebird started and the guys kicked into YIND and just like always there's nowhere on the planet that I'd rather be than in the same room with Yes playing their music. All in all, a great show, more than amazing that they're able to pull off Awaken in that kind of drunken atmosphere.
After the gig I got to see Steve as he loaded into the Mercedes, and I can say that I'm now a first hand witness to Steve shaking a fan's hand (he seemed less than comfortable with the action, but he did it without hesitation...so there, Mr PB).
I'm glad to have had the experience but I don't think I'd be willing to repeat it...that's why I'm glad that *tonight's* show has reserved seating.