Yes fans revel in a flashback to the seventies By ALAN NIESTER Special to The Globe and Mail Friday, August 2, 2002 – Page R8
Yes At the Molson Amphitheatre in Toronto on Wednesday
When a band has been on the road for nearly 35 years, no matter how dedicated its audience, it needs a few gimmicks to keep things interesting.
And Yes, that most progressive of progressive rock bands, has been a master at putting a fresh face on the same old repertoire.
Last year, for instance, we had the symphonic tour, in which the five-piece rock band all but drowned out 35 people who were sawing quietly away at violins in the background. In 1991, we had the hilarious Union tour, in which virtually every player who had ever been in this revolving door of a band crowded onto the stage at the same time -- with predictable results. We've had surround-sound tours, funny-name tours (Anderson Bruford Wakeman Howe performing "classic Yes songs" -- that one being the result of a dispute of rightful ownership of the band's name), all of this simply a way of keeping songs like Roundabout in circulation.
On Wednesday night at the Molson Amphitheatre, the latest twist in the ongoing Yes saga involved the return of Rick Wakeman, the still flaxen-haired keyboard player whose moderately successful solo career had negated the need for him to tour with the band. Thus, the show boasted what many fans would consider the classic Yes lineup -- long-time stalwarts Jon Anderson (vocals), Chris Squire (bass), Steve Howe (guitar), joined by drummer Alan White and Wakeman. The result was a show that, for the most part, seemed like it could have happened in about 1975. It was as if all those crappy eighties and nineties albums, all those in-again, out-again sidemen, never existed. And, as a result, it was probably the performance many stalwart fans had been waiting for for decades.
Not surprisingly, the nearly three-hour performance focused on the classic seventies material that defined the band at its peak, with much of it taken from the 1972 breakthrough album Fragile. That album was nearly presented in its entirety, with Roundabout being augmented by takes of Heart of the Sunrise (nice), Southside of the Sky (ponderous) and Squire's bass solo opportunity The Fish.
Newer material (and there's been lots of it) was given short shrift. Fans sat patiently through numbers like last year's tedious Magnification in the hope of getting something from such seventies fare as Close to the Edge or Tales from Topographic Oceans.They weren't disappointed, as the band tripped its way through such classics as Siberian Khatru (which seems to have become the standard opening, whatever the tour) and The Revealing Science of God/Dance of the Dawn, which was as musically ponderous as its title suggests.
The return of Wakeman did indeed add some lustre to the proceedings. Draped in a floor-length coat/gown, which may well have been made of tinfoil, Wakeman's one-hand-on-this-keyboard, one-hand-on-that-keyboard approach actually gave the band a fuller sound than all those symphonic players from last year's tour.
For vintage Yes fans (and there are still plenty of them -- about 8,000 showed up for this steamy and uncomfortable affair), this was nearly as good as it could get. A few favourite songs went missing (And You and I, Starship Trooper), but they'll probably be resurrected for next year's "Songs We Didn't Play Last Year" tour.
Let's get the 'tightness' issue out of the way first-- they were collectively tighter than I was expecting them to be, but not as tight as they could have been, and likely will be by the tours end--too bad it's so short, looks like they'll just be coming into their own and it'll be all over. I noticed probably 10 flubs all night, one in particular was delicious and I'll get to that below, but no train wrecks.
Firebird Suite opened the night, not Young Persons Guide to Orchestra. They seem, with one glaring exception, pretty much ok with each other, Squire & Wakemans seemingly newfound friendship the most pleasant surprise of the evening, and hey!-- Squire even ventured over to Howes' carpet and got a big grin and a bit of grooving for his efforts-- I almost fell out of my seat!
Wakeman began his solo with excerpts from Six Wives, a nice surprise. And having an original minimoog made all the difference--can that instrument cut through or what? Amazing invention, sadly underused today.
Howe has worked on his tone since last tour. The "plink" factor is all but gone, I heard some nice distortion and he was right on the money all night, probably the best of the lot in terms of musical performance.
A wonderful accident happened during tRSoG, can't wait to get a boot of this so I can verify if what I think I saw happen actually happened. It was during the first "momennnnnnt, moment moment MOMENNNNNNT!"-- Alan came in too early--or late, and the beat was *backwards*-- the snare where the kick should have been-- and for a few bars the band soldiered tentatively on, train wreck looming, until Howe played a key lick and they fell back into place, but while it was happening there was this incredible groove, totally alien--yet totally fitting with the song, I *loved* it, and I bet if they listen to the tape this is the way they'll play it from now on.
Squire remains the showman and powerhouse behind this band, last night, in blistering 90+ degree humid weather he worked his ass off, all night long, he was drenched in sweat and didn't stop for a second. By the end of the night he was visibly spent. (Note to Chris:-- hey big guy, take it easy in the extreme heat, you're not 20 anymore) Squires backing vocals were as good as I've ever heard them, powerful & clear, especially the "laaaaa, la, la la la, laaaaaaa la, la la la" middle parts of SSotS (has he quit smoking?) Magnification came off very well I thought, a heavier approach and simplified chorus (eschewing the "Paperback Writer"-ish harmonies in favor of just singing the title of the song), I much preferred hearing this to the somewhat lame DVD and album versions.
The heat and humidity with no breeze was almost unbearable up close to the stage, it drained the energy from the crowd, which was already a lazy-assed sit down audience of a meager 6,000 or so. The band occasionally looked a tad miserable and overheated but it wasn't very noticable.
The interminable solos drag the momentum of the show right down. These need to be pared back considerably, the Anderson/Wakeman AYAI duet for example is unneccessary and could be dropped, as could Jons "Show Me", nice ditty but ultimately doesn't go anywhere, especially when he starts improvising (badly) like last night. All filler. Start the 2nd set with Wakeman instead. Why does Wakeman set up his keyboards so he can't reach them without taking a couple of steps? HOTS suffered badly last night due to Ricks running back and forth and not quite making it there in time, I think he likes to make things look dramatic but the music occasionally suffered for it. His sounds still leave much to be desired IMO, although his Hammond patch was excellent.
In The Presence of just doesn't cut it without orchestra. It sounded weak and empty and just seemed to go on *forever*. The applause was feeble too, similar to what greeted Don't Go last year.
There is bad blo
Wow... what an amazing concert, Steve played amazing, so did the rest of the band. Everyone was flawless, well occording to me, my dad said he heard some mistakes, me being 14 and not around that music long enough didnt hear any. Everyone played their instruments as if they had complete comntrol, Rick Wakeman's solo was amazing, but did not completly show his talent, Steve Howe's classical guitar solos were amazing showcasing all his talent but I was wishing for Mood for a Day. Jon Anderson played this really unique classical guitar at different times during the night. Alan White was excellent bashing the heck out of those drums. Chris Squire had a little solo area where he played Fish and excerpts from different songs, being a showman and show off. The concert was excellent with everything a Yes fan could ask for, including a ringing in the ears for the next week. It also gave me as a guitar player inspiration to keep with what I m doing and to TRY to play some of Steve's work.
Just say Yes Wakeman's return gives band twist on classics By KIERAN GRANT
Being back with Yes has got to be gratifying for Rick Wakeman.
The last time the progressive rock pioneers touched down in Toronto with last year's Yes Symphonic Tour, they had a full orchestra effectively taking the place of their vaunted keyboard player.
Wakeman's return for Yes' current tour, which brought them to the Molson Amphitheatre last night, has been rightly greeted as a restoration of the band's classic lineup -- which also includes singer Jon Anderson, guitarist Steve Howe, bassist Chris Squire, and drummer Alan White.
That's not bad for a guy who actually came late to the band in 1971 and left after five years, joining in only sporadically after that.
But while Wakeman's re-emergence sparked understandable excitement in last night's crowd of 6,000, the show wasn't a simple rehash of Yes' '70s heyday.
That, it seems, would have been just too easy for a band built on the principal of creating ornate, complicated rock music through dizzying musicianship.
(The famously flamboyant Wakeman left the floor-length capes of his formative years in the tickle trunk, but was kind enough to still sport his Prince Valiant hair and a silvery overcoat to go with his bandmates '80s swashbuckler look. Trendy fellows, they ain't.)
Instead, Yes picked carefully through both their early output -- favouring 1972's Fragile over other albums -- and their latter-day material to put together a cohesive two-set show, even at the expense of hits such as 1983's Owner Of A Lonely Heart.
Classic extendo-jams such as Siberian Khatru, their radical 1972 rethink of Simon & Garfunkel's America, and South Side Of The Sky were interspersed with new songs Deeper and Magnification, which, even if some fans seized them as opportunities to go grab a beer, had a floaty likability to them. It was a diversion from the usual classic rock procedure where bands -- Yes among them in the past -- sabotage their setlists with fresh evidence that they've lost the plot.
Also, despite Yes' insistence on playing a dozen notes where three might do, they can still pull such forays off. Helium-voiced Anderson, whose increasingly fragile pipes haven't lost their effectiveness, and Wakeman provided an airy envelope to Howe and Squire's noodling.
On the other hand, the group's studied approach did little to make up for a thin sound mix. There was a sense that they would have done better in a theatre -- or at least with a bit more ballast.
Second set journeys through Heart Of The Sunrise, Fish, and encore takes on Roundabout and Yours Is No Disgrace corrected this. But when your songs are so weighty you can get through only a dozen of them in three hours, it's best to sort these things out early.
I saw this show earlier tonight. First time I've ever seen Yes. It was a pretty good scene... though being 16, I'm pretty sure I was the youngest person there! Heart of the Sunrise and Yours is No Disgrace were incredible. The band played excellently in my opinion, and if they come back again, I'm definitely going to see them!
Just got back from Molson Amphitheatre. Wow!!!!!!!! That was AMAZING!!!!!
SSOTS was begun with We Have Heaven, for that song's 2nd-ever performance (and at the ONLY Canadian date this tour...)
Awaken was ABSOLUTE MAGIC....as usual, but Rick made it even better!!!!!!
Although the performances were excellent throughout, the first half was a little weaker (not-as-well mixed, singing idiots seated behind us.) (which if course wasn't Yes' fault :)) But the 2nd half really picked up!!! SSOTS was the high point of the first half though.
Awaken was a truly stunning piece!!!! I just closed my eyes and let the music wash over me in the middle section instrumental. Beautiful!!!!! Even better, the afformentioned idiots behind myself and those I was with were relatively silent,as they were for most of the 2nd half, thank goodness.
Chris Squire's solo was proof positive that he is a great showman and an even greater musician. Keep it up, Chris!!!!
Jon.... well, what can be said about him? He is still in perfect voice!!!! It's amazing!!!
Sorry if this review rambles a bit, but these are just a few of the impressions that are racing through my head agfter such a GREAT show!!!! The return of Master Rick Wakeman is indeed a truly triumphant one!!!!! His Moog work was especially great on RSOG, and HOTS.
Anyway, GREAT show!!! Hope this lineup makes it back to Toronto next tour!!!
Any and all suggestions on how to get a great seat up close and personal for a fan of 32 years would be greatly appreciated... Much thanx Philip