Yes at the Royal Albert Hall. This was something I’d dreamed of seeing and hearing for many years – since Jon Anderson’s solo show there in December 1980, indeed. It’s a venue I have been to more than any other over the years, both because of my love of classical music and as a result of being a regular attender at the Proms between 1975 and the mid 90s (before I moved out of London).
This evening I was in the upper circle on Steve Howe’s side, with my friend Jonathan Crawford. He’s not a hard-core Yes aficionado, by any means, but someone with a broad and discerning musical palate who can certainly appreciate the band at its best. He wasn’t much taken by some of the ‘lighter, more airy-fairy’ material (as he put it) from The Ladder, but enjoyed the classics.
Yes’ performance this evening was up-tempo, but sound-wise it wasn’t a great success. The acoustics at the RAH are notoriously bad, and there were a few technical hitches, especially with the keyboards.
The fibreglass acoustic diffusers (popularly known as ‘the mushrooms’), installed in the 1960s, do a reasonable job for orchestral and choral music, while leaving the globally famed arena well short of a world-class sonic presentation. But confronted with loud rock they have nothing to offer. The music ricochets past them, around the dome, and everywhere else.
Anyway, a boomy, rather flat sound was what it was like from where I was sitting. Particularly disappointing was the lack of anything by way of impact from the bass pedals. I knew where they came in during the set, but there was nothing of the visceral impact one usually gets. The building just soaks everything up.
It was good to get a decent view of Igor Khoroshev in action on the keyboards tonight. A very fine musician, and in my view the best fit the band has found for this position, he is capable both of reflecting the varied styles of different eras of Yes music, and adding fresh touches of his own.
After the gig I was very fortunate to be able to pick up an after show pass and to accompany Henry Potts and others to the hospitality area. Brief chats with the charming Billy Sherwood, Igor, Alan White and Yes biographer and doyen music journalist Chris Welsh followed.
My souvenir of the evening was an empty champagne bottle, upon which my pass was duly appended. I still have it. I caught a word with Miguel Falcao, Yann Clochec, Nigel Bamber and a few others from the alt.music.yes newsgroup, too. A great night.
Steve Howe's slide guitar on Hearts was worth the admission by itself. It made a bland song very beautiful. The fact that he walked offstage for the rest of the tune just emphasised the point.
Another great night but from a different perspective being further back in the audience compared to Glasgow.Steve tore into YiND with a blistering attack the like of which I cannot remember in the past 26 years of seeing the band live. (Why did the roadie bring out Steve's standing acoustic guitar midway through the song and then take it away again?).
Igor and Alan were quite superb tonight.
Awaken even better than Glasgow I think,because of the overall sound quality and getting the full effect of the lights and ticker tape.
Visited the HMV store the next day and was delighted to see so many people there - great.
So there it is, 2 great concerts and a great weekend - thanks a lot guys. Haste ye back to the Edinburgh Playhouse asap.
Was really looking forward to the concert in the RAH having attended the show in Glasgow. The perspective was very different as I was really close (2nd row in Glasgow) compared to the rear of the stalls at the RAH. Sound quality was IMHO better at the RAH, this was probably down to where I was sitting. Steve was magnificent during YIND and Perpetual change. Highlight was Awaken - If I could live another 10 minutes of my life again, that would be it, totally magical.
Volume should have been turned up. I think Billy's contribution is underestimated - he gives Yes a really full sound. I thought Owner and Roundabout during the encore could have been better. All in all a really great show. Band were more 'together' than on the OYE tour two years ago. Igor has more confidence now and is a real showman - gets Jon going at times. Jon was more into it than the last tour and seemed to be really enjoying himself. Alan and Chris were as solid as ever.
Been following these guys for thirty years, Hope they come back soon.
"Yes, Albert Hall, London SW7" February 21, 2000 By Paul Sexton London Times
WHAT sort of person still goes to see Yes in the 21st century? Not the unfortunate older couple in some distress as I passed by the box office, trying to return tickets they had just bought from a tout thinking they were for Madam Butterfly. Nor the foreign youngsters leaving disconsolately, having been disabused of the idea that they were at the Festival Hall.
More representative were the American couple in the row behind me who had planned an entire week's holiday in England around the band's weekend residency at the Albert Hall, which was restocked with many of the now fiftysomethings who helped to create the topographic legend of Yes 30 years ago.
Followers of more recent rock trends may no longer feel the need to leave town when they rumble into view, but the notion of Yes will always be a challenge. Yet those who like them love them, and with three original members on board, Jon Anderson, Steve Howe and Chris Squire, plus drummer Alan White, who joined "only" in 1972, the latest manifestation of this redoubtable beast can still shrug off its critics as an elderly lion might dispatch some impudent jungle upstart.
Misty film of their salad days was projected behind them as they threw themselves into Yours Is No Disgrace, the first of many 1970s epics to be intricately recreated. Augmented by sympathetic young sidekicks, they made a piebald bunch, Anderson exuding elfin vigour next to Howe's Father Time guitar figurehead, while Squire swanned about in perhaps the most eccentric sartorial selection of the season, a long white coat with shorts underneath.
Songs from the new album The Ladder, such as Lightning Strikes and It'll Be a Fine Day, maintained the old spirit, even if their sonic ambition was less panoramic than such returning champions as And You And I and I've Seen All Good People. The encore included Roundabout and their 1983 American Top 40 smash, Owner of a Lonely Heart. I wouldn't bet against another night of affirmative action from Yes here in 2010.
Hi all, I'm really tired from all this fab weekend but I can't go to sleep before I leave you with some random notes about the RAH gigs.. just in case I forget them.
I met YANN!!!!!! The Squire troops are stronger then ever, even more with her friend Annick also from France! Sorry for being always late!!
Sound - honestly much worse than Hammersmith 98! Chris' bass was not clear it was muddy. Chris & Billys vocals too low in the mix. I was first at the stalls O (sat) and then then Arena E and upfront the stage fooling around (sun).
At Stalls O, just by the mixing desk (bummer: they had a copy of the setlist on the desk for us all to see) I could see the actual stage floor!!! Billy's pedal board with the famous south park stickers in front of my nose! Also from that side you can watch Alan's drumming!! And I don't mean the regular head behind the drums! Sideways you see all of Alan's work and it's fantastic! I could see stage access (on Chris side) with all of his basses on a stand!! He had one special stand just for the 3 neck!
I could see all of Chris' bass pedal work!!!! And it's not just long notes! On YinD he really plays fast notes with his feet! Superb work!
Chris had one 4001CS (copy) to use as a spare, but I guess he never needed it. The "surprise" is that he used the Elektra bass on OoaLH and not the Mouradian cause he didn't have time to switch basses right after Cinema.
here is the Bass setlist (not necessarily the setlist order)
YinD - Rick Homeworld - Mouradian PC - Rick Hearts - Ranney 8 string LS - Mouradian IWBaGD - Ranney 8 String AYAI - Rick The Messenger - Mouradian FtF - Fender Jazz Bass Awaken - Wal 3 neck ISAGP - Rick Cinema - Elektra OoaLH - Elektra Roundabout - Rick
gotta go to sleep now, more tomorrow
The first night I was in Circle T, which is about as high up and far from the stage that you can get and the sound was positively awful. Probably made even worse by the fact that I was sitting directly in front of that huge PA thing that hangs from the roof of the RAH. Steve's guitars and Igor's keys could be heard quite well and very high in the mix. Jon's voice was very muddy at times, to the point you couldn't even make what he was saying between songs. Alan's drums were almost impossible to hear, though the cymbals came out loud and clear. Billy's guitar could be heard rather well, except of course during the parts he was deliberately turned down. Chris' bass was nowhereto be heard, all you got was some sort of subsonic drone coming from the building structure through your butts. Chris' and Billy's backing vocals couldn't be heard either.
The second night I was in Stalls M, that is about 10 meters away on Chris' and Billy's side, close enough to see Chris' little dance when he triggered the effects from his pedals (which, technically, are not pedals, but I'll leave the technical points to Miguel ;-) and the sound was way better. Far from perfect though, but still better balanced. Since I was with people who had seats both nights in vastly different portions of the RAH, I'd say the the acoustics of the RAH are generally rather poor, that what you get highly depends on where you are sitting and that the sound was actually better the second night. Also, they seemed to have equipment problems the first night (at least Igor and Billy had some) and not the second night.
On the first night, Igor's gear just stopped working at the beginning of "Yours is no disgrace" and (sole advantage of being high up in the hall ;-) you could see Igor and a tech crawling below the gear to fix whatever was wrong and it took them long enough that Igor totally missed his entry on the second verse of "YIND", not because he screwed up, but simply because his gear wasn't working. Fortunately the others seem to have seen the problem and just went on without him. Billy also had a gear problem during "Owner" the first night and you could see him and a tech fumbling with the equipment.
Meeting Yes in London.
The first meeting was just after the Saturday gig outside the RAH. I was with a group of friends from France and Portugal and we had decided beforehand that we would wait as long as needed to see them after the gig. Bad thing was that we had no idea from which door they would come out. So we first spotted a huge white limo waiting outside Door 9 of the RAH. And, our small group being decidedly Panther-dominated, we couldn't help giving a (somewhat shaky) rendition of "Man in the white car". But it turned out the limo had nothing to do with Yes. So we took a walk around the RAH, for good results as they actually went out of Door 2, almost the exact opposite of Door 9.
The first to go out was Steve, who must have been in a good mood that night as he was indeed half-smiling and willingly signed everything we handed to him. He was nevertheless not too talkative and definitely would not shake hands. A while later came Jon with some other people, among them his daughters. He took them all to the car waiting for them and then came back to us to sign whatever we got and shake hands. He seemed to be in a hurry and didn't talk too much either, probably because he wanted to spare his voice. But he overall quite friendly.
Then after another long wait, a big van parked in front of the door, shortly before an old lady came out. Seeing all those people (well, not that many, there might have been 20 of us at the start and 10 at the end) she asked "who are you waiting for" and a couple of us yelled "CHRIS". She smiled an said "good, I'm his mum" and walked away past the van. Then a while later came Billy and there was an immediate rush towards him. Billy was his usual self, very friendly and smiling and obviously happy to meet the fans. We talked a bit with him and this is where he told us that _Conspiracy_ would be out "two or three weeks from now". As the only thing I had for them all to sign was my ticket, I handed it to Billy who happened to have no pen, so I also handed him my pen so that he could sign everyting we had. I told him that I also had _The big peace_ for him to sign the next day and he seemed genuinely happy to see somebody who appreciates his work. And the next day at HMV he actually remembered me and that small bit of conversation.
Soon after came Chris, who I think was wearing the exact same coat he had on at the Paris signing two years ago. While waiting we had been joking about Chris maybe taking a bath before leaving in true *Fish* fashion, but he finally was not the last to come out ;-) Chris too had no pen so he used mine too. I think I'll have this one framed and hang it on my bedroom wall.... Our buddy Miguel was the star of the moment as he was wearing his homemade "Squire #1" sweater with several pics of Chris on it, which duly impressed Chris. Miguel also gave Chris a CD with recordings of his renditions of Chris' bass lines, which Chris seemed to enjoy. Funny thing is that we missed Igor, who came out of the RAH while everyone was gathering around Chris. I strongly suspect that Igor actually went almost unnoticed into the van where Billy was already sitting, and that the two of them were off to somewhere with Chris, as the van left after Chris too had come aboard. And finally, after another long wait, came Alan with two ladies who were probably his mother and wife. Alan has been known to be more talkative that he was that night, but it was already late and he seemed in a hurry to lift off with the two ladies. Nevertheless he took the time to sign everything we wanted (again with my pen ;-), but didn't stay behind to talk.
And so ended the first meeting. What I finally got was my ticket signed by Steve, Billy, Chris and Alan and *the* pen, which might still have the fingerprints of Billy, Chris and Alan on it somewhere :-)
Then of course we had the second meeting at the HMV store on Sunday. As has been said, the crowd was *huge*. The HMV people
Managed to see YES at the RAH on both nights. Yes rocked and were excellent but I thought that the sound from an acoustic point of view could have been better.
I had interesting seats which were slightly higher than the stage and behind the front of it but only about 15 feet from Steve Howe.
I was intrigued that he played while standing on his own carpet, maybe he suffers from chilblains!! His playing was exquisite and I particularly liked his green 'cut-off' guitar whatever make that might be?
On both nights Jon kept looking over to a slim pretty blond haired lady who was two rows below me and blowing kisses to her and then came over & hugged her after AY&I, so I assume that's his wife.
Igor was on top form throughout and kept playing the 'fool' all evening - highly entertaining. But after the end of the show (before the encore), he came over and gave his drumstick to the young boy (aged 7?) just below me, which was a really kind gesture.
Before - made an effort to go and see Fantasia 2000 at the Imac at Piccadilly, to hear the Firebird with animation. So far so good. Long walk from the tube to RAH, taking wrong turning, so getting extremely cold. Get there too late to get to the Greyhound before and meet so many people I had only emailed in the past. Pants.
Inside - realised just how stitched up I had been by Way Ahead. My fianc'e had ordered the tickets via YesWorld, the day that the tickets went on sale (she had been checking everyday since I went into hospital for the transplant) - we get the balcony! So far away from the stage (and above it) that we could not see the expressions on the bands faces. And the sound was SO poor (from the balcony, no pun intended), that it was hard to believe this was a Yesgig. Very, very disappointing. The set was the same as Birmingham, so I still felt that it didn't flow well (apart from the last 3 numbers of the main set). Snippets of yesmusic, presented as songs, don't work for me. Much preferred the set from the UK OYE tour. Still, the crowd in the main stalls, so far below, seemed to enjoy it. The band certainly were smoking - Chris in particular was having a ball and projecting. Igor comes across as playing the Rock Star (in complete contrast to Steve, so humble, so impressive). Jon was excellent, chatty (for him), and forgot lyrics somewhere (I've forgotten already). Lots of yesfetti.
Over too soon. Back to Bou's brothers.
Which reminds me, Bou's brother, Pen, was paid by Yes for their RAH shows. He's on the list of jobbers at the RAH, and got a call last Wednesday to work Friday, Saturday & Sunday 10pm-2am. First night was clearing away the Madame Butterfly production (where they flooded the stalls, allegedly). Saturday and Sunday though, the RAH weren't prepared to clear away the yesfetti (something about it not being provided as part of their usual service) so Yes had to pay for it to be cleared - $150 per night. The Saturday night, only Pen and a resting ballet dancer called Pete turned up - so their quids were in. When they had finished, they were invited in to have leftovers from the apres-gig party. Nice one.
Hoping I was the only one feeling a little deflated after RAH (after all, the sound and was good at Brum, even if unbalanced being in front of Steve).
The current setlist in my opinion lacks a real stunning song.
Of course I agree that Awaken is one of Yes' masterpieces, but last tour I was really impressed by "Heart Of the Sunrise", "Siberian Khatru" and "Long Distance Runaround"
The freshness and ultra-fine performance then took the whole concert to a high level.
In the RAH I had the feeling that I missed these songs. I missed really aggresive and spectacular musical moments. I have to say "Cinema" was played fantastically. Somehow I managed to hear the drums, the base, but I doubt whether I heard Sherwood.
I had high expectations of "Homeworld" but hope to experience this one for real in Utrecht, Holland or Koln, Germany.
As reported in my review the sound quality in the front rows was ultimate shit, so this plays a role too of course. Anyone have the seem front row frustration? I doubt whether any care had been taken for the sound in the front rows, where we were actually under the PA speakers.
Most of the time the snare drum only could be heard acoustically. For a real Alan White experience this is shit.
You understand that my most expensive Yes concert ever was not as exciting as I had hoped, but I am sure Vredenburg in Utrecht will be much better. I have been front row there with superb sound.
I conclude that visiting Yes in a hall which is not very well known for its acoustics is a waste of money.
Of course I know the people at RAH were excited and delighted, but our front row presence could not get us into the real thing.
The tale of the Curates Egg........from the back of the Circle.
The obvious enjoyment and enthusiasm of a band that has been 'doing it' for 30+ years (off and on...) The showmanship of unique talents of Chris Squire Alan Whites' immpecable performance Any keyboardist that can take on YES music - and at its most complex have time for a spot of persussion. Some proof that Jon Anderson does live on the same planet as the rest of us! The communication skills were at their best last night. The Bad:
The venue - nostalgic return it might have been, but the RAH is NOT a good choice. The accoustics can cope with the classics and some EC blues, but for full throttle YES? No chance!! The Mix for the first 30 mins was dreadful. The wonderful high end bass lines were lost in a booming morase; Igors' best efforts were generally lost behind the predominant guitars and Jon was quiet. Things improved in the more structured passages but all the heavier material was muddied. Which wasn't helped by Steve Howe having a bit of an (enthusiastic) 'improv' evening. Please, Steve, some nights play it straight - you did it two years ago at Hammersmith and it was a delight. The two drunk 'w**k**s' in front who gave notice to their IQ's pre-show with calls of 'WALLY' then proceeded to show to all around that it is quite possible to have the brains of Peewits and apparently (over) appreciate YES music. Believe me Guys, you did not improve the gig for those around you....... A fan of The Ladder, I was disappointed that (probably because of the problems listed above) the character of tracks such as 'Lightening Strikes' was lost. The Great:
Like every other reviewer - AWAKEN. This was as good as it gets and worth the ticket money alone. Words cannot describe the experience of hearing this performed live; the tears almost flow and yes, even my two 'friends' managed to show some respect.
Will I be back? Damn right....just hoping for a little more from Relayer, Tormato and Drama - and of course AWAKEN.
PS. Just a gripe about the tickets - bought 'on-line' in the first couple of hours after release, top price + booking fee and get back row of the Circle. Hmmmmm, maybe I will revert to traditional methods next tour.