21 years, 10 months and 10 days ago
Wednesday, July 25, 2001
San Diego, California
Review caveat #1: Fanboy here
Review caveat #2: non-musician so will rely on words such as "whoosh"
Review caveat #3: still recovering from being squeezed between 2 big squirmy butts. Perhaps appropriate on some occasions but certainly not while trying to enjoy a Yes show.
This was my 15th Yes show dating back to 1976. I've seen the highs ('76,GFTO,SLO) and the lows (BG) and for once I was truly at a lossas to how this would come off. A risk to be sure. The venue is a bitmakeshift- a former Navy pier jutting out into beautiful SD harbor set up witha nice stage, a floor area with hard plastic seats and a couple of grandstands in back. Unlike Reno, a concession stand was set up. 4 types of shirts hanging in price from $30 to $50, a hat with trad Yes logo and a silverkeychain with trad logo (nice). Interestingly one of the shirts hasMagnification logo (new non Deanish font) with a design on back that on firstglance appeared to be some kind of spaceship set in a grayish geometricpattern- album cover perhaps?
The crowd was a strange mix of Yes fans and what I call Pops fans. On my way in I overheard a hilarious conversation between 2 elderly women trying to decide if they knew of the band. The show overall was similar set-list wise to Reno. However they added All Good People after Ritual (no orchestra). In addition there is a short orchestral introduction to Long Distance Runaround. I kept wondering if it was Wakeman's ditty that now precedes 'Children of Light' !!
Given the comments about the orchestra in Reno, I was hoping for some improvement. Wow the sound engineers must read AMY. The orchestra, for the most part was very audible and in some places downright overwhelming. The show was very tight (with some exceptions) and amazingly enough the orchestra really brought something special to Gates, Ritual and the new tracks. Perhaps this is due to Groupe's past experience with the San Diego Symphony and the fact (according to a comment Anderson made tonight) that many of the orechestra members played on the Magnification sessions.
Musical highlights: For sure Gates and Ritual. Gates especially sounds wonderful with the orchestra. They really punched up the battle sequence. What an improvement as well by the band since I saw them last early on the Masterworks tour. Close to the Edge was quite good as well but since it was first it took awhile for the sound people to get the right mix. I must say that I really like both of the new songs. Don't Go is kind of Beatlesque-short and punchy with a fun rhythm. The longer piece is majestic and really a nice showcase for the orchestra. White tinkled...the ivories.
Like Reno the orchestra left while the band did WS and PC. WS was great to hear but it begged for an orchestral accompaniment. PC, for me, was the lowlight, such as it is. I've never liked White's percussion work on the track-kind of drags it down.
All the band members were in fine form. Anderson flubbed a few lyrics (All Good People of all songs) and owned up to using a telepromptor. Anderson's voice was in good but not stelllar form, but nothing terribly obvious. Chris was great and showy as always. Nice to see he finally got a mansier! Steve was concentrating terribly hard and was almost magnificent. Unfortunately he doesn't attack the guitar like he used to and that is missed during a few parts of Gates and Ritual. Tom Brislin, the hired gun on keys was obviously having a great time. He contributed to the vocal harmonies and did a great job with all the keyboard parts, especially on Gates. Forget what you've heard about keyboards being an afterthought on this tour. Brislin may not be Wakeman but he contributes mightily to the concert sound.
Well, I guess that's about it. Again, Groupe has created some nice even dramatic arrangements that sometimes blend with and at other times compete with the band. It was exciting to see them take some chances.