We left Muskegon about 2:30 pm and arrived at Pine Knob at about 6:30 pm. The parking lot was still pretty empty, and this allowed us to walk right in. (I still remember when the "Going for the One" tour hit Chicago. We stood in line outside Chicago Stadium for about an hour before they let the crowd in.) I had waited in line the day tickets went on sale at Ticketbastard, and managed to snare some row Gtickets. Seats 27 and 28. When we found said seats, we soon discovered that Yes' PA stacks blocked the entire view of the stage! There were 20 4 x 12 cabinets stacked 4 across and 5 high. We bitched to the Head of security and were soon shown to better seats two rows higher but at least they were in the middle.
Kansas went on at about 8:00, and was easily the hardest working band of the two. Lots of energy and a superior sound. It was easy to imagine how great Kansas could have been if Kerry Livegren had agreed to do the tour. Steve Walsh was IMHO, was giving it his all, and if anybody has ever seen these guys perform you know what I mean. The set lasted about an hour, and stuck pretty close to the bootleg that was posted last week in a.b.s.mp3.bootlegs.
Yes went on a little after 9:00 to no great fanfare. (where was Firebird Suite?) They just sort of walked on, plugged in and started playing Close to the Edge. It was still pretty light out, and this sort of made the light show ineffective. The music was superb, and I kept looking around, kind of amazed that I wasn't the only one who knew these songs. Chris Squire looked the best I've seen him in a while. Gone is the tremendous gut and flabby look. Although he was still sporting kind of a pot. What struck me was how old these guys actually are. Most of them are pushing 50 or more.
The best number of the night was when Steve Howe and Jon Anderson were screwing around between numbers and managed to come up with a rendition of Wilson Picketts' Midnight Hour. Yes also stuck pretty close to the set lists that have been posted in this newsgroup, although Steve Howe played the acoustic solo from the Ancient, which was a pleasant suprise. The show ended about 11:00 pm, but we cut out before the obligatory encore. I really wanted to hit the road and didn't care to hear Roundabout for the 3,000,000 time.Long Live Yes!
Jon's voice was raspy from the outset, and got raspier as the night progressed. He commented about it (I didn't catch all of what he said), then broke into a vocal rendition of "The Midnight Hour" utilizing a much huskier and lower vocal tone, mimicking Wilson Pickett! Steve joined in on guitar for a couple of measures. Then it was back to your scheduled concert. Maybe Vinny and feXco are on to something.
The show was incredible. It seems they played about about the same set list. Squire's bass playing during Ritual was out of this world. I get goose bumps just thinking about it, he was definitely in the zone. They played for two solid hours - the venue has an 11 pm time limit and they played right to it. They did Seen All Good People and Roundabout as encore's. Well worth seeing. I would go see the same show again if they came back.
Right before Ritual, they thanked the crowd for coming to listen to them play the old songs and during rehearsal they suprised themselves at how wild some of the old songs were. I thought that was an amusing comment. I felt like they are looking back at their old stuff and saying "Wow, that's pertty far out stuff!"
It is most difficult, indeed, to add anything worthwhile to the hundreds of reviews posted on the net already regarding the prior stops on this tour, so, instead, I will share some of my personal thoughts regarding this particular concert experience.
An essential accessory to this tour is a disabled person. If you bring one with you, you can ask them to bring their handicapped parking pass. This will enable you to park about 50 ft. from the venue's entrance, and you will not have to walk a mile or so from the main parking lot. I took my secretary, Grace, who is about 74 years old, and who talks *exactly* like Jon Anderson all the time. She loves Yes, too. (Her review: "They make the sounds to create all matter!")
It gets better and better. If you bought lawn tickets, it turns out that the venue probably has "handicapped seating" for the same price. The staff at Pine Knob was very accomodating to Grace's partial disability (arthritic hip). They seated her (and her fellow concert goers, meaning my wife and I) in the back row of the pavillion, center stage. This is Row ZZ, about 50 rows from the stage, but it is still preferable to the hill, for $19 dollars less than what everybody else was paying for a pavillion seat.
One major disappointment for me was that my son wanted to go, but only if his best bud went also. The two boys screwed up their communications, and the best bud was not home from work in time. I will have to brainwash these boys on the next tour.
Weather: perfect. Attendance: Pavillion 90% full. Lawn 80% full. I am not sure how this translates into number of attendees, but would guess about 8,000-10,000. Most of the crowd arrived late and missed Kansas entirely.
Which was a shame, since Kansas played a nice set. Everything but the encore tunes were unfamiliar to me, but they sounded good. Has anyone ever been able to hear and understand lyrics at a rock concert? I have never been able to do so, and if I don't know the lyrics already, the vocalist is muttering gibberish as near as I can tell. Maybe this is one reason why Yes comes off so well live, since even if you could clearly hear the lyrics, they are gibberish anyways, so not being able to discern them in the mix does not detract from the listening experience. This lyrics thing, IMHO, goes a long way to explain why casual fans want to hear the unholy trinity on each Yes tour. But screw them. This is our tour.
CTTE sounded wonderful once they got the mix right. Igor was way too low at the beginning, but rocked the house with the "church organ" section. 75% of the Pavillion crowd was in the beer lines or taking a piss break when the band took the stage. Maybe they were waiting to hear the Firebird and were caught unawares, or maybe they were just ignorant. The unexpected start to the concert caused a stampede back into the pavillion seats, one that lasted through half the song.
There is a very good chance that even playing the finale to the Firebird would have made any difference. Pine Knob promotes a "Build your own package" deal that preserves all of the finest Pavillion seats to those folks who in advance buy tickets for three concerts. So, if you wanted to see Steely Dan up close, front and center, you had to pop for two other concerts to get those primo tickets. "Let's see, hmmmmn....Yes...I used to like them....maybe it will be cool". This crowd, even those with excellent seats, did not seem to be packed with fanatical Yes fans, although I think the faithful probably snuck down closer to the stage as security got tired of combating them later in the night.
Beer: $6.50 a cup. This was not a deterent to most of the concertgoers.
The Piss Break Dilemma: What dilemma? Go constantly, all night long, unless you are close to the front of the beer line. The band on stage is playing stuff you never heard of, anyways.
ST was performed with pizzazz, and with more than a little improvisatio
The band was in good spirits tonight and seemed to be having much fun. Jon was having problems with his voice and told the audience at the start he had a frog in his throat. After Steves solo and his singing of Leaves of Green he made the comment that with his voice tonight he should be singing some hard drinking (or Driving) songs and broke into Mitch Ryders "In the Midnight Hour" The band picked up and played along for a few verses. The audience clapped along. Jon seemed in high spirits in spite of his voice being raspy. He again apologized for his voice near the end of the concert. It was noticeable during the concert. He was not able to sustain his high notes and seemed to be taking shortcuts in his singing. The drum solo during Ritual was awesome with all the band, except Steve, playing a rercussion instrument. A wonderful concert. They just need to find another song for the encore. Roundabout is a good song but it has been the closer for too long. Change is good.
Awesome! YES was YES!!!! :) The sound could have come up a little! Jon apologized for his voice, said he a little "froggie" in there...LOL. He was still able to carry off the entire setlist though :) Howe performed brilliantly as only he can! Squire brought the house down with his THUNDERING bass solo in Ritual, which was extremely well done. The percussion section was awesome. The lighting throughout the entire setlist on the kewl YES stage still flashes somewhere in my memory banks. AWESOME!!! :)
The crowd i'd estimate at 8,000. That number should be pretty accurate quoting the guy I talked to from security. I didn't see many empty seats in the pavilion, and the lawn looked pretty full to me. Picked up a program for 15 bucks...THE PROGRAM IS A KEEPER! Wonderfully put together, with a timeline of YES from the beginning until now!
Now, if true Yesfans could only devise a way to keep the "i had nothing better to do and thought i'd have a few beers and scream in your ear, all at the wrong time" AWAY from such performances, we could all sail away with YES into the HEART OF THE SUNRISE. :)
P.S. Kansas was excellent! They kicked ass out there! Very well received and rewarded with a standing ovation!