I'm listening to an audience recording I downloaded this week from yessongs.nl. Audio quality is very good and the performance is fantastic. A couple moments stand out: Steve's guitar work starting at about 10:35 of the Revealing Science of God is very interesting and Rick's solo across the majesterial and atmospheric middle section of Awaken (starting at about 7:30) is also superb. Indeed, Awaken is (as always) a highlight (as is Chris's solo on Heart of the Sunrise). This is a great concert from one of my favorite tours. I wish I'd been there or could go back in time and be there now. There are many great Yes eras; 2002 and Classic tour is one of them. If you get a chance to hear the audience recording from this show, don't miss it! Kudos to the band for keeping this great music and our love of it alive through their acceptance of shared audience recordings.
I flew in from Florida to see this show because (at the time) Yes had no planned tour dates in Florida. I saw that Yes and Rush (my two favorite bands) were playing 50 miles apart on consecutive nights, so I hopped on a plane to Texas.
The show was great and it gave me more hope for Yes' future after the uninspired Open Your Eyes tour.
I can't improve much on Fanboys' excellent review so all I will add is the reason why Yes played an Elvis song. August 16, 2002 was the 25th anniversary of Elvis' death.
Let it be said that much of my commentary about Yes was wrong.
Before I picked up Magnification, I was convinced that Yes was a bunch of has-beens who could still put on a decent show, but couldn't jam out and have fun like their old live sets made it sound.
I was convinced they were hesitant to expiriment and look forward, preferring instead to play the same tired songs with half the passion and energy they used to have.
To repeat -- I was wrong.
Before I talk about the show itself, a word about the venue.
The Backyard is a beautiful outdoor venue -- it's on the outskirts, WAY outskirts, of Austin (further than I thought, I arrived in the seating area just in time to hear Firebird Suite start). The stage area is covered, but not surrounded. This lets the natural scenery add to the show (more on that later).
The weather cooperated, no rain, and it wasn't even unbearably hot (a rarity for Austin this year), and even the audience (save one very exciteable man to my left) didn't detract from the performance, but was responsive nonetheless.
As I said, I arrived at my seat as Firebird was starting -- the closest call I've ever had for a concert.
Song by song:
Siberean Khatru -- it seemed to start a tad slow, though it picked up during Rick's harpsichord-esque solo). Steve was REALLY into it, and jammed out for a good three minutes or so near the end. He was hopping up and down and SMILING -- I've never seen the man smile before. I found myself liking this more than I expected.
America -- Started slow again, but no false starts. Picked up a minute or so into it. The audience was really into it, though I'm of the mind that, now that I've seen it performed by this lineup, they can drop it on future tours. I love the Keys version, but this kind of let me down a bit.
In the Presence Of -- So about a minute into Deeper, I noticed that the sun was setting quite rapidly. I could've sworn we were in broad daylight when they started the song, but as the second chorus began, I noticed that the sky was this beatiful shade of violet. The sunset sky behind the band really added to the atmosphere of the song. Rick's keyboard intro to the song was quite...florid. I almost didn't recognize it, at first. The song builds really well, in ways I hadn't noticed when listening to Magnification. It also seems to be a bit improved by adding Rick.
We Have Heaven -- It was a nice touch, and if they'd gone straight into South Side of the Sky, it would've been really good. But as the footsteps were tromping around at the end, Jon stopped to introduce South Side anyway, which sort of defeated the purpose (I was hoping it would be contiguous and uninterrupted).
South Side of teh Sky -- Why the hell weren't they playing this on other tours? It worked really well. For the first time all night, the entire band was rocking out pretty hard, and Steve is still smiling. Rick and Chris are dueling, it's all good. I hope they keep this for future tours, because it really worked.
The Revealing Science of God -- As much as I love this song, this actually felt like the low point of the show. Rick seemed rather low in the mix during several parts, and many of the hardcore fans (there were three of us in a cluster) were trying to figure out if he was playing at all. He was, but that part of the rig was WAY low during Revealing.
Steve's solo -- Leaves of Green and Little Galliard. The audience seemed to appreciate Leaves of Green. They also seemed perplexed by Little Galliard (I think they were expecting Mood or Clap).
Jon's Solo -- before going into Show Me, Jon sang a birthday song for Janeeee. I hadn't heard Show Me before. Like most of Jon's solo material, it's nice music that I have to be in the right mood for. I wasn't really in the mood for it tonight. Though Rick's entrance was really well done. We didn't even notice he was on stag
This may be a first: Yes playing Elvis Presley. They played "Jailhouse Rock" before starting "Magnification".