I was fortunate enough to catch both Yes concerts in Connecticut. First up was the concert at the Foxwoods casino. I considered this a warmup show for Oakdale going in as my seats weren't that great. I was a few rows back in the balcony left center. As it turns out, Fox theatre holds only about 1500 so the seats weren't that bad. After seeing 13 shows on the "Open Your Eyes" tour, Yes did not disappoint me performance wise with "The Ladder" tour. Although I was extremely disappointed that "New Language" and "Nine Voices" were dropped, what they did play was very impressive. Especially noteworthy was "Awaken," which for me, was one of those rare magical experiences that happen once in a blue moon. They nailed this song on this night perfectly. The acoustics were excellent and the rear projections added to the experience (except for the error message that displayed briefly at one point). Although, the band is still not as young as they used to be, they can still bring it!
Contrary to what I heard said, there was no food served at the Fox theater during the Yes show. There was waitress service for drinks, but certainly no steak. I was sitting at a table on the lowest level and was treated to a great show. Met another A.M.Y contributor who seemed to be as fanatical as myself. Ditto on the synth and organs sounds from Igor. They sound MUCH better than the OYE tour. I was in front of Squire and Sherwood, and heard both mainly off the stage. Up front, the sound was very clear and crisp. Second best sounding Yes show I've heard, the VH-1 taping being the best. I could even hear White's high hat and cymbals if not right from his set, through the stage monitors. A big difference from the night before at the State Theater. I had tried to walk to around there and find a good spot, but found muddy sound everywhere. Foxwoods is indeed a big place and reminded me of a "big cruise ship." As said earlier, the band was in good spirits and started late as well. I think it was close to 9:30 when YIND began. The confetti capped off the best version of Awaken I have heard. A fantastic show.
"They paved paradise and put up a parking lot," sang Joni ironically on the muzak as we found the escalator to the gaming floor. "With a pink hotel, a boutique, and a swinging hot spot."
Foxwoods Casino is the latest Native American casino in Connecticut, a concrete and glass behemoth that landed a couple of years ago about ten miles inland, crushing most of the forest making up the the Mashantucket Pequot reservation. Less established than the Mohegan Sun resort down the road a ways, they've lately taken to constant high-profile TV ads throughout the Northeast, along with trying to attract higher profile acts to their Fox Theater. George and I arrived at this swinging hot spot around 8:30 last night to see Yes.
After springing for five bucks worth of sodas and 45 of Yes merch (booklet, love it, mousepad, ehh, coffee mug, G loves it,) we stood in line to be shown our seat. The Fox is really a dinner theater with additional auditorium seating, so you have to wait for the maitre'd treatment even if you're in the last row. We had aisle seats on the audience's right hand side, 11 rows above the last booths. Despite the great view from throughout the venue, the sight of dozens of people polishing off their prime rib to the pre-Firebird ambient music gave me a little trepidation. We sat next to a guy, seemingly not a fan, who looked EXACTLY like Bruce Vilanch except I assume Vilanch showers more frequently and has a bladder with greater capacity.
I shouldn't have worried. Despite a few mixing problems and an apparent issue with Jon's monitors (he often seemed sharp during the night, moreso than usual) it was a wonderful show. Steve was on fire for the most part, burning up Yours Is No Disgrace (with Jon and Igor adding percussion in sort of a neat Jane's Addiction "Three Days" sort of way) and Perpetual Change in particular. He improvised wherever he could (judging by the differences from the HOB webcast) and I thought his steel parts in particular sounded better tonight than the Las Vegas show.
Igor has learned how to use filters on his analog synth sounds finally. Maybe this is due to his keyboard tech, the Emerson guy. Whatever the case, he seems to have developed a recognizable analog style, sort of like Moraz but distinctive enough to be his own. He embellished many of the lead lines pleasantly. (He needs to learn how to stack two oscillators an octave apart though, a common technique Wakeman used on the studio version of And You And I without which it sounds just a little flat.) Maybe also due to his keyboard tech being an Emerson guy, he seems to have developed an unfortunate case of mellotronophobia. Piano sounds, organ sounds, synth sounds - superb. Mellotron sounds - we might have been listening to ABWH. The vocal patch (used in Homeworld and Awaken) was good enough, but the string sounds were notably absent from And You and I especially, some non-descript Mark Kelly-like digital pad in its place and analog synth leads replacing the moody tron leads in Eclipse during And You and I. This is my only complaint though, as he acquitted himself exceptionally well otherwise. My favorite Yes keyboardist for And You and I done live remains Geoff Downes.
Jon seemed in good voice aside from the glitches I mentioned (which I may well have imagined.) He seemed especially strong on Eclipse during And You and I. Tonight he dedicated Nous Sommes interruptus to his wife, and invited each of the bandmembers' wives present to help him get himself some. George expressed surprise that he still had a voice at the end of the night, since all the songs they did except Cinema featured a lot of vocals and he really belted them out. "Blah blah countertenor blah blah 55 blah blah Southside," I blathered. Oh, and he declared all of Foxwoods to be the house of Yes and that Alan had won four grand earlier in the day so he'd have us out of there by midnight so we could win some money.
Alan performed well, t
Like a drug addict or alcoholic chasing that first high, I have been catching as many Yes shows as I possibly could since the last classic line up tour in search of that Yes high. Drama, BG, ABWH, Union, OEY. Too me each of these tours were disappointments as far as that old feeling I got at a Yes show in the 70s.
Tonight at Foxwoods Casino in Ledyard CT. came very close. For me this was the best show I have seen since the last leg of the In The Round tour of 78 or 79.
The energy level of the crowd was great and the band seemed to play off of it, especially Squire.
A little set list spoiler to follow so stop if you have avoided all previous spoilers.
I really like the Ladder CD and I was looking forward to seeing it played live, and it plays very well in concert. The old stuff went off great as well (although I can do without ever seeing OoaLH or Roundabout played again). I'm glad they picked up on some TYA tunes and dropped a couple of the Fragile ones that they have played over the years.
No change to the set list that I've seen posted previous to tonights show. Andersons voice seemed to be cracking early on, most notably on the Time and a Word bit. Having read that they dropped Awaken and 1 or 2 other tunes earlier in the tour when he was hoarse I was concerned. Thankfully his voice got stronger as the night went on. 1 hour and 55 minute set before the encore(s). (1 encore, 2 1/2 tunes) The sound mix was awful at first. You could tell that there should have been a bass punch once or twice early on, but you couldn't hear or feel it. The mix got better deeper into the show. Low point of the show... at the beginning of Awaken as Anderson is singing high Vibration, Squire walks on stage right into the light from a blue colored spot light that was knee high on the stage, beaming across the stage towards Howe. Squires lab coat, baggy shorts, calf high socks, combat boot get up was bad enough but when he walked in front of that blue light carrying a three neck bass he looked like he was wearing a parachute. Laughter could be heard throughout the venue. Spinal Tap couldn't have scripted that look any better. High point.... numerous... Howe, Awaken, the new stuff, the old stuff.... Igor is quite the ham. Great playing tonight. The guy doesn't even look like the music is a challenge. This was the best Yes show I have seen in a long time. If anybody is on the fence about going to see them one more time, I highly recommend getting a ticket.
It was a great show. After the show, I heard a number of people say that they played Awaken perfectly. I feel the same - played to perfection.
Foxwoods is an amazing casino. I haven't been there in many years. As we drove around trying to find a slot for the car, we drove through the center of the complex. There was a bus station that was larger than the city of Hartford's bus station. This is the Emerald City that Dot was looking for.
I didn't expect many surpises at this show. I've followed the setlists, through forgotten years, [Link] and had the directv House of Yes show playing since Thursday. I thought I knew what to expect.
Let me just say that I wish they would mix up the tunes a little. I think they have a few albums to draw on. I'm a big fan of the dead, bela fleck and phish and most any live act. It is rare that a band plays the same tunes in the same order night after night. I wish they would work with a group of 20 songs and mix them up (and the more obscure the better - hell just play The Ladder and Open Your Eyes).
My friend and I went in to the theatre about 45 minutes early and checked out the layout. We studied the sound and light boards. I noticed two dat tapes laid out - I presume that there is a sound board copy made every night - and I pray that there was one of this show.
During the show, I kept thinking they make it look easy.
Yours Is No Disgrace even had steve flying from left speakers to right and back again. HomeWorld and Lightning Strikes work well - very well. I loved my all time favorite YES song, And You And I. I was on my feet long before the end of Awaken.
And how many 3 neck basses does Chris have anyway. I took a picture of his 3-neck bass, hanging on the wall, at the new york hard rock. I for one, think his clothing is fine. The days of the checkerboard capes are over. He's dressed for adventure.
I feel so lucky to be able to enjoy this talented band after so many years. My first show was 9/3/78. I've heard that many feel that this was one of the best YES shows and that last night was comparable. I can't wait until tonights show. I have no idea what to expect!