A beautiful explosion like a challenger with parachutes this night has us all.
I see the breaking of jets to the strain of 11/8 time I remember my boyhood and quietly relive my birth.
God bless us as we breathe in his herbs God bless us.
Jon Anderson is a holier person than Mother Teresa ever was.
YES' show at the FleetBoston Pavillion was a truly memorable experience! Was it the best YES concert I've ever seen? No. The #1 and #2 spots on my list will probably always be reserved for the '78 and '79 "In the Round" gigs at NYC's Madison Square Garden. However, The Masterworks Tour looks as if it will easily move into my #3 position. (Just as a point of reference I'd like to add that I've seen YES at least once on every tour since 1978.)
Why do I give the Masterworks Tour such high marks? Here are a few reasons:
- Chris Squire is back! After 20 years MIA, Chris has rediscovered his signature Rickenbacker Tone. He played his bass with a ferocity and accuracy the likes of which I haven't seen since the 1980 DRAMA Tour. (Kudos to you, Mr. Squire! Whatever you've been doing lately, please keep on doing it.)
- Igor was finally clearly audible in the mix. He played with authority and panache, despite a few noticeable gaffes. (More on that later.) Igor is also using some tasty patches. His pipe organ in CttE sounded great and so did his "squiggly" Moraz synth sounds during GATES.
With the exception of the SLO shows. No extra guitarists, no keyboardists hidden under the stage (and no, Will Alexander's 30 second contribution during RITUAL doesn't count.) I don't like the way the band handled the "Billy Sherwood Situation", but I do have to admit that his presence was not missed on this tour. Steve handled all of the guitar parts without any problem and Igor did a fine job of singing the high harmonies that are out of Chris' range.
- YES performed the musical equivalent of a highwire act. I held my breath at several key moments during the evening. Will they all hit the irmarks in unison during the opening jabs of RITUAL? Yes! Will the percussion section of RITUAL hold together? Yes again! (It was a thrilling site to behold ? the YES men, sans Steve, pounding away on all manner of percussion. All eyes on one another. Playing as a true ensemble.) Will they make that crucial transition out of the "Battle segment" of GATES?
Well, no. Igor played the triumphant keyboard fanfare too soon and had to repeat it a few measures later after none-too-subtle cues from Alan and Chris.
It was stuff like this that made the Masterworks show so exciting. There was real electricity in the air. You have to give YES a lot credit for doing a tour like this one. They relearned almost an hour's worth of music in less than two months. Long, intricate pieces of "symphonic rock" that they last played when they were half their currrent ages! That's quite anachievement.
Thank you Jon, Chris, Steve, Alan, and Igor! The Masterworks Tour was truly an Event. I'm looking forward to the next studio recording, which by all indications sounds like it will be something very special indeed. It doesn't get much better than this. Really.
Set List - no surprises: (intro) Young Persons Guide To The Orchestra, Close To The Edge, Starship Trooper, Gates Of Delirium, Leaves Of Green, Heart Of The Sunrise, Ritual, I've Seen All Good People, (encore) Roundabout.
First, Kansas. I must say that the sound mix for their set was the worst that I have ever heard! I was sitting right next to the soundboard, so you'd think that I would have been in the sonic sweet spot for this show. Instead, it sounded like I had a worn-out Kansas tape in my Walkman with the headphones hanging around my neck and the volume on 10. I know that these guys are better musicians than what I heard, but I couldn't make out a word the guys said or sang. The pavilion is a terrible place acoustically speaking. Incredibly disappointing - for Kansas and for the fans! I had looked forward to them, too.
Thankfully, most of the problems with the mix were fixed for Yes. The intro to CTTE seemed a bit longer, though, as you could tell that they were making adjustments to the sound the first few minutes of the song. Despite the start (you couldn't hear the great bass riff at all) the band was definitely ON for this show and played fantastically! CTTE was simply amazing - a great opener for the show that set the tone for the evening.
Starship Trooper had so much energy that it felt like the closer to the show. They really got into the groove during the Wurm section and jammed on it for a long time. How could they go on with the rest of this set list after this?!
Gates was what I was most looking forward to before the show. I think Relayer is one of their best and most underrated albums, and they way they played it seemed to show that they agreed. Steve's solos were amazing, and the battle section was a fantastic counterpoint to the beauty of Soon.
Leaves provided a nice intro to HOTS, another powerful song where the band was dead on.
I hadn't expected to enjoy Ritual as much as I did. Seeing it live in its entirety really brings home the intensity and message of the song. And the percussive finale of it with the whole band (except Steve) playing drums was phenomenal! I would pay just to see this song again.
ISAGP and Roundabout were throwaways, but "tradition". You can really tell that Squire is the soul of the band. When he is really into a song you can hear his crisp bass driving things along and the rest of the band picks up on his energy. But when takes it easy and just goes through the motions, the rest of the band seems to follow. Such was the case tonight.
Overall, a fantastic show. The band genuinely seemed to enjoy themselves. Jon spoke a lot to the crowd, Chris had energy and drive, and Igor did a great job on keyboards and percussion. There were a lot of smiles and hamming it up on stage. And the whole crowd was on its feet much of the time. Everyone was screaming so loudly in appreciation that there has to be a Masterworks II in the wings... Let's hope!
Last night's Masterworks performance was easily the best Yeshhow of the last four here in Boston (Orpheum 97,99 Harborlights 98,00). It is beyond dispute that this band performs at the highlest levels with five musicians, no more, no less.
Kansas played a fine set, better than anticipated. My Yesshow compatriot, brother in law Uncle Al W., and I agreed that we would leave with plenty of time to get lost in the downtown Boston morass called the Big Dig - at worst we may miss all or part of Kansas - OK as neither of us are fans. I offer this only to place my reaction in context - we in fact saw all of Kansas and were pleasantly entertained. But, naturally, Yes blew them off the stage, a conclusion quickly reached as soon as CttE got moving into some pretty powerful playing. Sort of like seeing the Grand Canyon right after doing the waterslide at some Six Flags type park.
Back to the band; (Setlist the same, no changes here in Boston)
Jon Anderson-- No lingering throat problems that I could tell. Jon sang with power when required and with tenderness and beauty when that was called for. He has a unique gift in his ability to participate in, and coordinate, the "communion of the faithful" that is at the heart of any Yes concert. Hard to explain to the uninitiated.
Chris Squire-- All previous reviews are on target- he looks great and is playing superbly. His showmanship in this Tour is outstanding (in the past he was justly criticized for a penchant to "ham it up"; not so here). The solo in Ritual was one of many transcendent moments in that piece alone. (Masterworks 2000, Ritual, in Boston, now supplants the 1977(?) Genesis tour stop at Hartford, CT Bushnell Theatre, "Supper's Ready", as the greatest live rock performance I have witnessed; anybody else remember that Genesis show?). He played without missing a beat, with great skill, joy and power and he was a blast to watch.
Steve Howe-- Howe is a virtuoso. Who else has been hammering such complex and beautiful guitar parts for over 30 years? And last night he jumped, yes, jumped into the air maybe 6 inches, but a jump nonetheless , two times, during the finale section Wurm of Starship Trooper. His fire and musicianship in the opening of both Ctte and Gates beyond belief. (Gates troublesome for others but not Squire or Howe this night.) At the last, final note of HOTS, Howe pointed directly at the skyline of Boston which the musicians could see clearly behind the audience, and I remembered that the lyric ends with Anderson singing for the final time "lost in the city". Really a neat touch, perhaps he does this little move everytime and this was just a coincidence but I thought it was great. In sum, Howe, bobbed and stomped more than maybe anytime since the Yessongs film era. A true treat to see.
Igor Khoroshev-- Igor has earned "official member" status by now yes? He nailed CttE, but in other parts a tough breezy outdoor mix problem seemed to cause him trouble. I lost his sound in some places. He contributed background harmonies that weren't at all bad, also. (Didn't some other younger guy used to do that too? Can't seem to picture him). I think he was a beat behind in the battle chase section of Gates, but these are quibbles. (Gates deserves an "A" for effort, "A+" for respecting the on line poll but really needs more time to gel. Hard to criticize it, but it was the weakest link in an otherwise solid, solid chain of music.)
Alan White-- Everything I have ever read about Alan White says that he is truly the nicest guy in the world. Which makes it hard to say that I must agree with previous reviewers who note missed cues, botched fills and a general sense that, perhaps on some nights of this tour, some of the material has passed White by. Gates in particular is complicated (deceptively simple percussion part, but a really close listen yields complex, subtle time changes and fills). The standard recent setlist pieces, HOTS, Rou