21 years, 6 months and 4 days ago
Saturday, December 1, 2001
Brighton, United Kingdom
I had waited 21 years for this show, the last time I saw Yes was the very dissapointing Drama tour in Southampton after that I tended to los interest (apart from 90125). I wasn't at all sure what to expect but was absolutely stunned, the band was every bit as good as when I saw them in 1978 at Wembley, probably better in fact. One thing was very creepy though, in 1980 (my most recent Yes gig) they played a tribute to John Lennon who had been shot, at Brighton they played Here comes the Sun in tribute to George Harrison........
What can I say! Thank you Yes! I have just witnessed some great musicians performing some of the most amazing pieces of music I’ve ever heard. It was simply beautiful in places, the orchestra augmented the sound perfectly, maybe a bit quiet at times but really on the case when needed. The opening piece of music taken from the new album into Close to The Edge was just magical and sent a shiver down my spine. CTTE sounded more like the album version than any live version I’ve heard and the orchestra parts did much more than just replace the keyboard sections. The standing ovation at the end was well deserved. LDR was played next, it sounded very different with the orchestra and had a rather abrupt ending. “Thank God for George” said Jon after a short sing along version of “Here comes the Sun” as tribute to the late George Harrison. “Don’t go” and “In The Presence of…” sounded just like the album, great. Jon’s voice sounded a bit strained when he talked between songs, so I thought there’s no way he’ll be able to attempt Gates of Delirium, but as I was thinking this I spotted the Fender Telecaster being handed to Steve and the peddle steel being pushed onstage, “This can mean only one thing!” I thought and I was right, Jon introduced The Gates of Delirium and it was even better than the live version on “Yesshows” apart from the odd minor glitch from Steve Howe who looked like he was struggling at times, but the overall sound was just spot on. Tom Brislin had the Pat Moraz parts nailed and the orchestra parts were played to optimum effect. I feel so lucky to witness Yes playing GoD especially as they aren’t playing it on every show. After gates, Steve played a couple of acoustic pieces that were unfamiliar to me, the latter dedicated to Roger (Dean, possibly?) Starship trooper followed without the orchestra which it missed I think, the ending gets more “cock rock” and drawn out every time they play it, please boys try listening to “The Yes Album” again. Magnification the best track from the new album sounded terrific and was followed by a beautiful rendition of “And You And I” which was perfect for the orchestra, sounded great. ”Ritual” was next this was great as well (I’m running out of superlatives), if a little fractured. Chris’ bass was cranked up a tad too much during parts of this. The drumming and weird synth part during the actual ritual sequence was fantastic and Steve came in for “Nous Sommes Du Soliel” beautifully, very moving. We ran down to the front for a boogie to “All good people” where the sound wasn’t too good but the atmosphere made up for it. Yes left the stage and I shouted for “the other three sides of Topographic Oceans!” for an encore, my how we laughed. A shortened “Roundabout” was good for a boogie, Alan was starting to look tired, but he had played brilliantly for two and three quarter hours! What a great concert the only thing that I would complain about is the audience. OK Yes did receive standing ovations for the most part but he audience looked a bit static for the rest of the time which didn’t add to the atmosphere much, I guess we’re all getting a bit old but at 38 I didn’t expect to be younger than the majority of people at this particular concert, but I was and I felt it!
Brighton, England. 1st. Dec 2001
The Green Man
It’s been a nervous few days watching the reviews, checking the setlist on this site – will we / won’t we get Gates @ Brighton?
With the addition of a tribute to George Harrison the set list was as before on this tour. We were treated to Steve’s full wardrobe of guitars – virtually a new one (sometimes 2 or 3) for every song… He seemed very happy, almost to ‘possess’ the first half of the concert – dedicating his solo spots (taken from Natural Timbre) to his friends and family, ‘including Roger’ (probably Roger Dean who lives on the South Coast). Jon’s voice sounded a little strained to me at first - not a good sign for Gates, I feared. He got his brother’s name wrong as he recalled their days in Accrington, drinking milk (milk stout more like…). But a souring rendition of Runaround put my fears to rest.
Chris forced those deep bass notes out of his Rickenbacker with so little effort I wondered if he was actually playing at one point. The sight of a geezer with a bass and headphones in the wings turned out to be just the technician tuning up a Fender for the next song… But towards the end, as he strutted the stage in Ritual, dualing with keysman Brislin there could be no doubt. Powerhouse drumming from Alan drove the set on & he showed us his keyboard skills in the toursong & opening of ‘In the Presence of’ (recorded according to Jon on the 8th March 2001).
New Jerseyman, Tom Brislin amply filled the keyboard slot – such a vital part of the yessound to my mind (& ears). He was really getting into it, rocking away with the band and adding his own touches to some of the classic runs. And seemed to be enjoying himself, positioned behind Howe, stage left (as you look at it).
The set looked great - Jon is attributed in the tour programme with ‘set design’. The classic flowing Yes logo is back (its return speaks volumes about the ‘back to the roots’ approach of this tour and album) hung high behind the orchestra. A simple backcloth fell away to reveal a starry scene. Giant round mirrors strung left and right – like the discs on the IDR on the cover of Magnification. The band work in a much smaller space than usual due to the presence of the orchestra but that must be good for close working relationships – there were lots of smiles & interactions.
On this section of the tour we got the European Festival Orchestra from Belaruss – who, tho’ down in the mix (I was right under one of the speaker columns which didn’t help) did add a certain depth to the sound. And to my utter delight & relief made the complex studio sounds of Gates of Delirium come to life with stunning effect : a flawless rendition. Jon introduced it as being about war, terrorism and refugees – ‘sadly things still with us 20+ yrs on from its original recording – so we’re doing it again’.
With Pink Floyd in semi-retirement, happily counting the millions, Genesis shelved due to lack of interest in their post Phil Collins album where is the discerning rock fan to go for live entertainment & a reminder of that ‘great’ era of pomp rock? The answer, after last night’s performance at the Brighton Centre is without doubt to a Yes concert! It’s been a long time since I’ve seen a band get standing ovations after virtually every song. So if you’re in the UK and haven’t got a ticket (there’s still a few dates left) - beg borrow or steal one. & instead of buying your mate that Floyd ‘best of’ take him (or her) along too! It’s great that in their mid 50s the guys still do 60+ date tours and obviously take great pleasure in doing so – long may it continue.
Thanks to Tony & Ken for the tickets and as for my lousy, no show bro – well you missed the treat of a lifetime – you’ll just have to wait for the DVD. But it wasn’t like being there…
[Here Comes The Sun] was a short tribute to the late, great George Harrison. A nice touch, I thought. Jon sang it (well) to light accompaniment from Steve. They didn't play any silly games with it (as, for example, with America), just a straight version.
The venue was The Brighton Centre, not The Dome. The concert was superb, great atmosphere with audience listening intently but giving standing ovations after all the major pieces. Brighton were lucky - we got "the works" - i.e. The Gates of Delirium which was just astonishing in its power, precision and beauty, Steve's solos and Magnification. The same must be said of Ritual. This was a special night and it was striking just how much the band were enjoying eachother's playing, as were the orchestra. Jon was on fine form, with his brother and family in the audience, though he needed Jane to remind him that his brother's name was Tony and not Stuart! Steve paid tribute to Roger Dean and family who were also present and the band played a touching tribute to George Harrison in the form of "Here Comes the Sun" with audience participation. Yes have surpassed themselves with this tour and every fan needs to see it for themselves. Jon said "it will be our finest hour".....how right he was!! This was the best of all the Yes gigs I've attended since 1973 and to cap it all, I've now got my Magnification CD booklet signed by Jon, Steve, Chris & Alan - thanks for an unforgettable night!