Wednesday, December 5, 2001
London, United Kingdom
Hammersmith Odeon Theatre
21 years, 3 months and 15 days ago
We were hanging outside the venue after Wednesday's show in London -- and what a great show it was -- when I saw the orchestra about to depart on their coach. So, I nipped over, stuck my head round the door of the coach and trawled through my limited knowledge of Russian to come up with 'xorosho', which means 'good'. This and two thumbs up seemed to get the message across. Two of the orchestral members -- the very enthusiastic dark-haired female violinist, second row, second in, behind Brislin; and I think the blonde violinist who Squire always waves at before playing the tympani in "Ritual" -- who were sitting nearest the door said 'thank you' back and later waved when the coach departed.
OK, so it wasn't a particularly lengthy communication, but I hope they felt a bit more appreciated! Most of the orchestra seemed really into the music on the three nights I saw them (with the possible exception of the harpist, who looked deeply bored). Touring with an orchestra seems to have been much more successful than playing with a new one each night, as in North America. It's presumably also more expensive, although I guess you can pick up a youth orchestra in Belarus pretty cheaply. I've heard they're trying to find a Japanese orchestra, so if a Japanese leg goes ahead, it may be with a single orchestra for the whole leg again.
I note that all of the orchestra members had earpieces to hear the music properly. I'm still uncertain about how they were miked though. Would each player have a microphone on them, or would there just be a couple in their section?
I am still on cloud 9 after witnessing the finest performance from the boys on Wednesday night I have ever been privileged to attend which says a great deal as I first saw the band in 1977.
Jon's voice was amazingly clear as he gave a beautifully controlled performance.
We were up front on the right with Chris powering away in front of us.
He was clearly having a great time.
Steve utilised his full array of guitars and was really on form and Alan's drumming was as solid as ever.
Tom has clearly settled in well on keyboards and has a very likeable personality. Add the orchestral backing to this and the result is a stupendous night of wonderful music produced by wonderful musicians.
The highlight for me was Gates Of Delirium. My friends had tears of joy in their eyes.
There was no downside. I cannot fault it. Question now is, how will they top this show. I for one can't wait to find out.
Finally, I noticed a number of people sporting tee shirts promoting the UK's YES tribute band, Fragile.For all you YESHeads out there I can confirm that they are a superb outfit having seen them three times.
Whilst Jon and the boys are away go and see them and allow your memories of this show to be rekindled.
Fish Out of Beer
The orchestra was easily audible in all but the loudest moments and I was very impressed by the difference that they and Larry Groupe's arrangements had made to the show. It breathed new life into some of the pieces making them even more epic and emotional than the originals. Having the same orchestra with them for most of the European tour seems to have paid off because the whole ensemble was unbelievably tight throughout the show.
The coda to Close to the Edge sounded even better than on the record!
Plus a new song "In the Presence of" already coming on like a bona fide Yes classic (let's be honest it's been a while since we could say that)..
In all, possibly the single most enjoyable concert I have ever attended. Full stop.
Sorry! There were a few things I forgot to post about:
1) Howe played Clap!!!!!! :)
2) If anyone involved with Yes reads these, suggest to them making Tom Brislin a full time member - true he doesn't seem to be the next Rick Wakeman or anything, but at least he's not a pretender to his style like Khoroshev. Brislin had a very clear personality as well, which would elevate him higher still from Khoroshev, who looked like a session musician much of the time. If Yes are going to survive after this bold experiment (which has produced one of Yes's best albums ever in my opinion), they're going to have to try and stay away from nostalgia-fests like The Ladder (though good... they clearly could have done a LOT better).
As a young fan (16 at this concert) I had only seen Yes once before (on the Open Your Eyes tour 3 years previously at this very venue). Still, this was an amazing concert.
As I'm sure there will be a million postings on how good this concert was, I'll only focus on the bad parts....
1) Why tease us with an excerpt from the best track from the new album (Give Love Each Day) at the opening and then not play it!? (I know best song is a matter of opinion, but I think most people will agree that it's the track on the album that makes best use of the orchestra).
2) I felt that Long Distance Runaround was tacked on. Don't get me wrong, I think it's a great song, but really didn't lend itself to this new format. See above - this track could have been replaced with Give Love Each Day for the perfect setlist.
But that's my only critisisms of this otherwise fantastic concert - definately amongst the best 5 I've ever seen (and I've seen plenty of concerts in my short time :) )
PS. Haven't added a setlist because I didn't make a note of it.