Before going into the details, let's say that the gig at the Olympia was excellent, probably the best of the three I've seen on this tour. The sound quality was better than on both nights at the RAH, though some problems happened with the gear *again*. Hey guys, do you really care to do a soundcheck? Anyway, Igor could be seen ducking below his keyboards twice during the show. Chris also had problems, gesturing to the tech a number of times and speaking to him from the middle of the stage at one point, which I don't remember happening in London. From my point of view, the best moments of the evening were "Homeworld" (better and better each time, hope they'll keep it on the next tour), "Perpetual change" (with Igor at his best) and "Cinema" (though here Billy's guitar was a bit too low in the mix).
Then the surprises : first, a shaven Squire!!!! The Fish still has the sideburns, but the cheeks and chin showed nothing more than one or two days' worth of growth. A new look after all those years with the beard ? Miguel said that Chris had already shaved in Portugal, to get some tan . Then, no confetti gun at the end of "Awaken", and it seems that was deliberate this time, as none of the guys looked up to see what was wrong ;-)
Howe on his solo spot was quite disappointing, with a quite shaky rendition of "Mood for a day" with some tidbits from all those pieces nobody remembers the name of, and some Iberian-style intro that might (or might not ;-) have been some sort of Carlos Paredes impersonation..... But Miguel said he had already done the proto-flamenco intro in Portugal, and no it doesn't sound like Paredes. Strange thing is that Steve seemed to lose balance a couple of times, just as if he did not remember what chord came next. Surprising...
And then the cheers from the crowd. Usual standing ovation on most songs, the new ones being as well received as the old ones, with big cheers at key moments during most of the songs. The surprising thing was the reception given to "Awaken". Some cheers right at the beginning, but surprisingly *none* during the song itself, not even after the harp and organ section. I must say that Igor was not at his best on this one. His playing was definitely less smooth than in London, and he had some of those Keith Jarrett-style slams on the keyboard that don't really fit this specific part. And besides he screwed up a number of times, with one *very* discordant chord right at the beginning, and this seemed to take the others off balance. Otherwise I must say thet the *good* parts of "Awaken" were really well played, the opening to "Gentle mass touch" being certainly the most powerful I've heard. And of course, Chris doing some fancy things with the three-necked Monster was a sight in itself, even if he doesn't lift it above his head with one hand like he does with the Rick.
Speaking of cheers, Billy actually got more on "Hearts" than the whole of them combined on "Awaken" ;-) One when he started singing, and I must confess *I* started this one, and then a big one from the front rows after his guitar solo. Overall, Billy looked in a very good mood, smiling and ackowledging cheers from the audience. So was Chris. But Steve looked as pissed off as during the rest of the tour and even Jon was less brilliantly extravagant than usual, even on the song intros. When introducing "The messenger", he did not even mention Bruce Fairbairn and went straight into the Bob Marley connection. His attempts at some French were funny, but not really successful.
A funny moment was when Billy (obviously deliberately) held a loooooong distorted note just before the start of the harp/organ thing in "Awaken", which brought him funny looks from Steve and even from Chris. Unlike London, Billy could be heard pretty well all along, even when he played rather "basic" stuff on the old songs. And this only confirmed that he definitely does more and better than some would want us to believe. A
The House of Yes.
I am constantly amazed how Yes just gets better and better as time goes by. This was a very impressive show. I thought that the sound quality at Olympia near perfect (though the sound on the stage seemed to need adjusting – several members of the band motioned repeatedly to the soundboard controller on stage right). The crowd was very into the performance – one of the best audiences I have seen at a Yes show. There were many standing ovations from the entire audience.
Yes seemed to be in a good mood, especially Chris Squire. The set list was well balanced. Before giving us an amazing performance of Perpetual Change, Jon Anderson commented how Yes had played the Olympia 31 years ago and played this very track all those years ago.
The highlights for me were Perpetual Change, And You And I, and Cinema – which I was very surprised to hear. I thought that Awaken (one of my all time favorite Yes songs) missed the mark slightly – the band lost coordination a few times. And You and I was performed flawlessly and even brought a tear to my eye.
I could have done without I’ve Seen All Good People, Owner of a Lonely Heart, and Roundabout – but I must add that these seemed to be the crowd pleasers. Tracks from The Ladder were all performed well.
I now have a new appreciation for Alan White, who was very impressive all evening. Billy Sherwood and Ivan Khoroshev both seemed comfortable and fit in as well as can be expected (despite the age difference).
I am now very excited about the DVD release from the HDTV show in the States. If the HoB show was anywhere near as good as Paris 2000, the DVD will be a wonderful addition to the live Yes collection.