In all of our days together, my girlfriend and I have sought to reproduce the Peak Experience. We've done so on mountaintops, lying on dark beaches watching the meteors fall out of the sky ("welcome to - Our Meteor Shower!"), backpacking long distances to make camp in a deserted place, sitting over late night campfires roasting marshmallows, laying on a picnic table watching clouds go by, and floating in remote swimming holes playing Yes over a boombox (in fact, Yes has been VERY present in our Peak Experiences). We've strived over the years to decipher the code of the Peak Experience. Was it the weather? The music? The chemistry? The state of relaxation? The meditation? The JuJu? What was the Source of the Peak Experience, and how does one find it again?
At the Taft in Cincinnati, we had a glorious opportunity.
I have delayed posting a review - because, quite honestly, I was knocked into serious blissfullness and couldn't verbalize for days. I couldn't tell you why. Was it the ambience of the theatre? The acoustics? Was it the fact that this was the >real< heartland of the US, and that the crowd was >my< neighborhood? Was it the passion ignited by the Aussies as they travelled from town to town, exploring Yes in our land? Was it the fact that I was surrounded by 30 internet friends - and that the internet part of my life was somehow verified by meeting all of these people (and new people too)? Was it the loved ones who were with me? (not counting the band!) Or was it just that Yes, once again, >delivered< in the realm of the Peak Experience?
The Taft is a grand old theatre - what distinguishes it from the Royal Oak, or the Riviera? Well - it's not been restored like the Royal Oak, but it's not been destroyed like the Riv - and it is in it's unchanged condition - the velvet seats, the mystical symbols painted around the stage: The Sun, The Moon, and Pisces and Scorpio. (Okay, Pisces - Chris - in the Moon, and Scorpio - Jon - to the Sun - oh, does it get much better than this?) The crowd was a little lumpy in the asses - i.e., they wouldn't get up off of them! BUT - this was by far the best venue for recording that I'd run up against yet. The crowd was silent until the VERY END of the songs, and then the hall went up in a ROARRRRRRRRRRRRRR of excitement! (I hope >someone< was taping???????) And the ACOUSTICS!!!! SO SWEET!!!!!
The setlist - was the same - but I lost track. The bliss overwhelmed me. I just knew it was the same. This was the first time ever that I figured out - certain energies, certain musical balances within the band. How Billy balances Steve, and works with him, and why that is >just< right. How Chris and Billy and Alan Bounce while Steve and Jon and Igor Flow - and these two energies come together for a beautifully synergized and balanced whole. Why the lights are what they are when they are. (but I can't explain.)
(BTW: I did verify, the "dirty chords" at the beginning of the Messenger: definitely Igor)
Words fail me, but.sometime around AYAI.everything started to >click< into place - I had been enjoying doing the "YesChick" thing, dancing with my friend and Cherry (hi Cherry!) and watching it all, taking it in. Waiting to feel the sound.
At some point in AYAI, the music went through every cell in my body, and it started to happen, just as Jon promises (and I've experienced before, but OMG, this was POWERFUL) when I felt the sound, and saw the music, and >FELT< YES! throughout every cell of my body. I could no longer think about chords and progressions and mix and blend, or character and personality. I could no longer analyze. I could no longer think. I was no longer Jan C. Harris, I was no longer anything but the perfect recipient of one of the wonders of the world; YESmusic. And when the notes of AYAI wound down, "I" looked up at the stage before me, and saw the lights shifting in perfect harmony to my being, to the music, to the essence o
This just goes to show how indeed the band's sound personnel did not do an adequate job in ensuring that even those not far up in the balcony would get a good show.
Like I stated before, the '97 concert was really good (grade 'A'). A friend of mine went with me and he heard the same thing, and even someone where I work went to both concerts (OYE and TL) at the Taft and thought that the sound in the '97 show was better. He had seats on the floor (about 12 rows back) and said from there Squire and Howe were about even in muddying up the overall sound at times.
Now I almost had come to the conclusion that the sound techs did not have Anderson's voice turned up high due to problems with the equipment (I heard distortion a few times and my hearing is really sharpand I purposely listen for things like that seeking perfection in sound). So I figured Anderson would have to make up for it himself...lol. But you just confirmed it was the sound techs all the time since supposedly the folks on the floor could hear him adequately.
By the way, the man at my place of employment made a remark that perhaps some of the sound crew were wasted (high). If that was a joke, it was on many of us in the balcony. All of this is not to take away from the band's performance as I have no complaints about that (with exception to near the end, it seemed they were very tired and anxious to get out of there).
All that I can say is, WOW!
I saw Yes for the second time last night at the Taft Theatre, and I definitely wasn't disappointed. I was a little bit worried that the slower tempos of both "Yours is No Disgrace" and "Perpetual Change" would hamper my enjoyment of the songs, but it most certainly did not. The magic of the songs was definitely there, and the crowd really acknowledged these two in particularly.
I thoroughly enjoyed the pieces they performed from _The Ladder_, as well. Before, I guess that I had only really given "Homeworld" a chance, but after the concert, I have given detailed listenings to the whole album, and am beginning to see what everybody is saying about this wonderful album. Just like _Tormato_ and _Keys to Ascension 2_, this album is really growing on me. IMHO, it is a step in the right direction for Yes, but I won't go into that, as it has been more eloquently explained by others.
The high point of the show, for me, was "Awaken". I am extremely happy that I was able to see this live. This song really takes you places! I found the confetti release during the climax before the very end section of the song, however, to be more of a distraction than an enhancer. I think that they should have just let the music carry you during such a powerful section of music.
One quick note about Steve Howe. It was a "fowling" good time for him, as we saw the chicken necking quite a bit!
The crowd, for the most part, was very appreciative, but there were some drunken idiots, too. I was getting quite irrate during Steve Howe's acoustic intro to "And You and I", as people made it a point to whistle and scream things. Also, they were very rowdy when Jon Anderson was introducing "Hearts". Somebody screamed something that I couldn't make out, and the crowd laughed at it, to which Jon Anderson began to show his frustration with the crowd (in a very polite manner, mind you), by miming about as though his mic was not working, showing that he felt that it must be (even though it obviously wasn't) if people were screaming about like that, rendering his introduction moot. Shame on you if you were one of these screamers. It was very tacky, and I was embarassed.
After the show, I decided to wait with my friends outside of the theater vby Yes's buses. After about an hour, Steve Howe came out amidst the crowd and made his way to a Mercedes wagon. He smiled and waved to all of us, and then he left. About 20 minutes later, after the staff spread the rumor that Jon Anderson had already left, Igor came out and signed autographs. Although I was unfortunate to be the last person to attempt to get one, which failed, I did tell him as he was walking away that he did a fantastic job, and he turned around and said thanks, so I wasn't all that disappointed.
All in all, it was very enjoyable, and, although I played up on the fact that there were some rowdies, they nowhere near ruined the show. It was definitely one to remember!
Just a few brief thoughts on the Cincinnati show last night. It was a lot of fun, the Taft is a lovely, gorgeous venue, and the fact that my seats were better than last time (in the middle of the 2nd balcony) made it really neat.
* The opening montage is fantastic. A gold star for whoever's idea that was.
* I thought "YiND" was particularly excellent, quite possibly the highlight of the night. It seemed to go on forever, perhaps 17-20 minutes, and Steve was absolutely on fire on this song. I've never seen him chop at the strings with such ferocity and intensity on any of the videos or shows I've seen. He was marvelous.
* The sound at the Taft, at least where I was sitting, was relatively poor. The vocals didn't come through well at all. I couldn't make out Jon's voice and the backing vocals (mostly Chris and Billy) were inaudible. At the same time, the lead guitar(s) were far too loud.
* Billy Sherwood erased all doubts in my mind about what exactly his role in the band was. The four-piece "Cinema" was breathtaking, IMO the second best performance of the night. Billy was standing center stage, really hamming it up, and the solo was magnificent. I had heard that Igor was playing the "horn" parts on "LS", but it was actually Billy playing the leads on guitar, I noticed. He also played well on "Hearts". An excellent performance for Billy, well done!
* The new songs came off pretty well. "Homeworld" was well done, with Steve getting in a few flourishes, but again the mix killed the best part of this tune, when during Igor's organ runs the rhythm guitars were louder than the organ! "Lightning Strikes" was shaky--first Jon missed an entire verse in the intro (I thought he was just dropping the cell phone verse but apparently he blew several lines), and the mix buried those neat scalar runs Steve plays on acoustic under the "talk talk talk" parts. "Face to Face" was a powerhouse, but again the poor mix killed the harmonies. "The Messenger" was also quite good.
* Seeing "Awaken" live really made me reappraise my low opinion of the track. Igor was fantastic, and the explosion of confetti from the roof of the theatre at the final climax was dramatic and even caused this cynic's jaw to drop for a moment.
* If you see them on the rest of this tour, watch Igor at all times. He is absolutely a cut-up. When he's not playing he dances in a hilarious fashion around his keyboard rig. Occasionally he picks up a drumstick, leans precariously over one stack, and bashes something strategic deep inside Jon's percussion setup. His antics with a tambourine had me laughing out loud. He's great, I hope someday he'll do a solo tour.
Finally, and someone's going to do an "I told you so", I had my first experience with a 'concert idiot' last night, a gentleman who was making very appropriate suggestions to various group members at airliner volume (PLAY IT STEVE! SING IT JON!) during lulls in the action. Oh well.
Great show and venue! Just a few observations:
Ladder songs sounded great live.
Perpetual Change sounded a little ragged at first, but then really rocked.
Organ section of Awaken just soared - and crowd was pretty quite for a change.
Between songs as Jon was talking, the idiots in the crowd wouldn't stop blabbering, so he stopped until they did!
OOALH was good (first time I did more than just endure it), and was a team effort for the first time (Steve stayed on stage and helped).
For the first time in the three tours I've seen with Igor, could actually hear him for most of the show - was finally turned up in the mix.
Alan was just incredible - I got tired just watching him! Hope they swing by Indianapolis in the spring.
WOW/.....what a performance. The Taft appeared to be sold out. The crowd was loud, enthusiastic and giving standing ovations with the completion of each song. The band was responding and feeding off the audience.
What was really special was when "Awaken" was being played. As the song was building near the end, a large container of confetti burst all over the audience from the rafters of the Taft. Everyone went wild. Even Jon and Chris smiled and got a kick out of that new "twist".
Every song was played without a hitch. Again, "Awaken" was the highlight for me. "Homeworld" was a close second. Even the infamous "Firebird Suite" had old YES pictures of the band members displayed on the rear stage mantel as it was played with the band's introduction.
Jon mentioned to the crowd that the band would "see u next summer". This is the first solid indication of a summer tour. Obviously, i am thrilled as riverbend (outdoor theatre) is a great place to see YES under the stars (perfect setting for playing Homeworld) and gives me (and you) something to look forward too.
One last note, all members of the band were smiling (with the exception of Steve - its him; just his personality......he is all business on stage) and having a blast. Igor has mastered all YES tracks and his key were turned up all the way up as compared to lower volumes from the last (OYE) tour. Steve was never better. Billy played Trevor's guitar solos masterfully; his backup vocals really compliment Jon. Chris played that 3 headed bass guitar during "Awaken" and I was in true admiration watching him get sounds from that instrument. Alan played the drums flawlessly; he was really special. The crowd couldn't believe the intensity he played at during the 2 hour and 15 minute program. And finally Jon's contribution, I am speechless after hearing his vocals as they get better with age.