I drove up from Portland for the show. It was in the Paramount Theater, a beautiful old movie theater, now mostly used for concerts. It was raining cats and dogs on the walk over from the hotel, but that didn't seem to dampen (sorry) the enthusiasm of the audience.
I won't go into the details of the setlist, as it was pretty much as described at other shows prior to Seattle. Of greatest interest was that they played a lot of songs off the new album, The Ladder. I thought that Homeworld and Nine Voices came off the best, and both could easily become "standard" concert items in future tours.
Jon mentioned partway thru the show that he was still feeling a bit of the flu and had taken "something" for it (he did not go into detail on what substance the "something" was ...). Even so, his voice seemed to be holding up well.
Igor and Billy seemed to more involved this show then the one I saw last year. I think they both are fitting in well, and seemed to be enjoying themselves greatly.
Chris was, well, CHRIS. Hamming it up, though a bit less than I remember. He seemed to be concentrating more on playing than performing, and it just made all the songs that much better. Also, no Fish bass solo, which was a welcome change for me.
Alan White is amazing to me. He must be age-less. No sign of any slowdown on his part.
And Steve had no "acoustic solo", as in most past shows. Which was also an interesting change. His demeanor is not very demonstrative, but he seemed to be getting into all the songs, except for the lone "Yes West" they played, Owner of a Lonely Heart.
The focus of the concert was definately on the new material, which resulted in a slightly different energy level than past Yes concerts I've attended. The audience didn't seem to mind, as there were very few yells between songs for a "moldy oldie" song that they hadn't played yet.
Over-all, not the best Yes concert I've ever attended, but quite enjoyable. I have yet to attend one that I did not have a good time. Looking forward to a summer tour next year ....
Last night's YES show in Seattle was extremely unusual in one very pleasant respect: during the quiet part of Awaken, the crowd was quiet as well. I've never heard that anywhere else before, or on any tape. That made the whole show that much more enjoyable. Awaken and &U&I are the 2 songs that I think almost sound better studio than live, because, to me, the silence is a necessary element.
Now, to those that screamed "Steve" during the acoustic parts on &U&I... !@#$#$
Although the acoustics at the Warfield in SF sounded better, last night's show may have been the best I've ever heard (out of 16). And that would include the Union tour, which was the greatest thing in the history of mankind since the discovery of the smallpox vaccine, or penicillin, or the end of feudalism, or the Magna Carta, etc.
We were a little worried to read about Jon's flu in SF, and he apologized for same when Yes played the Paramount in Seattle Nov. 9 after a night off. But apart from a few minor clinkers, he was in fine voice -- as, in general, was the whole band.
The mix of new material from The Ladder, which the band seems to have a lot of confidence in, made this a much better show than their July 18, 1998 stop up at the Ste. Michelle Winery in Woodinville. This was more like their show at the Gorge Amphitheatre in 1994, when they were supporting Talk -- no solos, just a fine setlist and a band playing at near the top of its game.
For those curious about the setlist, it was identical to the SF shows -- we had thought we might get Close to the Edge, since they were coming off a night off and had three more before Minneapolis, but no such luck.
Surprisingly, the sound at the Paramount was muddy and bottomheavy. Alan's drums dominated the mix, and neither Jon nor Igor ever were loud enough (Billy is mixed out, too, except for a few select moments on the Trevor songs and a few snippets from The Ladder). That and the incessant chatter of a mostly middle-aged crowd (a lot of whom seemed to have been drinking VERY heavily before the show) made Jon's between-songs patter and tidbits of a capella vocal difficult to hear.
The band had a few foibles of its own. Steve got totally lost at the end of Perpetual Change, but Chris and Alan just laughed and closed out the song without him. Steve, in fact, seemed distracted throughout (there was genuine surprise on his face when he looked up and realized that he had wandered far from what the rest of the band was playing), but still managed to shine often on a dizzying array of guitars, including the steel part in And You And I that gave us goosebumps that have yet to go away.
All of the songs from The Ladder sounded very good live -- as with the Talk material, it has to be heard live to be fully appreciated. Nine Voices was a highlight, leading into an awesome reading of Awaken. And, as always, And You And I was electric, amazing, mesmerizing (at least the last part -- we missed a lot of the first half because two groups of drunks behind us got into a loud and heated argument over who was sitting in whose seats).
Jon, flu or no flu, seemed to be having a great time. At one point, he became a mouthpiece for Cassie White, Alan's daughter, and asked some fellow named Mike if he'd go to the Prom with her (Newport High, perhaps?). Chris also was in good spirits -- apparently, wearing his jammies and a bathrobe on stage suits him.
The show gets an A-minus. The theatre and the sound get a B-minus. And the crowd -- loud, drunk, rude and stupid -- gets a C. Maybe if we can get Yes in Benaroya Hall (the Seattle Symphony's new home) next year, people will start to get the idea.
Show time: approximately 2 hours 15 minutes
Really awesome show, high energy from the crowd, everyone around me was courteous and acted sensitively to the music, playing was superb all around (Alan played great, if that's still in question by now). Loved the opening 'historic' slides, great build up with the Firebird Suite.
Igor- Really gets into it and gets the crowd into it, wish he'd tone the percussion dramatics down a bit though
Steve- Seemed detached from the others, but played magnificently, definitely THE presence of the band tonight. Shined on the YesWest material when he gets involved with it
Billy- Did great with what he's given to do, seems decent and not arrogant
My only minor complaint was that there was not enough Billy and Igor in the mixing when all 6 are on stage, too bad (I could barely hear keyboard solos unless no one else was playing).
But that's it...makes me actually looking forward to Yes in 2000!