Wednesday, August 21, 2002
20 years, 7 months and 9 days ago
Yes leaves out some favorites
The Arizona Republic
When a band goes through several lineup changes, they invariably ignore large chunks of their catalog in concert.
Take Wednesday's Yes show at Cricket Pavilion. The "Classic" lineup of the 70s - singer Jon Anderson, bassist Chris Squire, guitarist Steve Howe, keyboardist Rick Wakeman and drummer Alan White - on tour together for the first time since 1979 (the quintet briefly reunited for a pair of shows in 1996) - played a massive 3-hour set for a small but adoring crowd.
Yet they ignored 20-plus years worth of history. Barely anything from the band's 80s or 90s albums was performed, probably due to the fact that neither Howe nor Wakeman had performed on much of that material.
But then, most of the fans at Cricket weren't there to hear "Owner of A Lonely Heart." And Yes made up for ignoring its later material by digging deep into its catalog and dusting off some tunes that haven't been heard live since the Carter administration.
Taking the stage to the familiar strains of Stravinsky's "Firebird Suite," Yes launched into a blazing version of "Siberian Khatru," a common show opener during the 70s.
An extended workout on Simon and Garfunkel's "America" followed. Anderson's vocals soared, but some of the extended noodling detracted from the beautiful melody.
After a tune from their latest album, "Magnification," the band reached deep into its back catalog for "We Have Heaven" and "South Side of the Sky," never performed live until this tour, 21 years after they were originally recorded.
A brief classical guitar solo spotlighted Howe before the band took a brief intermission.
Anderson opened the second set with a pair of solo tunes, before the wizard of the keyboards, Wakeman, got the crowd to its feet with his amazing technique. He was clearly enjoying himself, back in the band that made him a superstar after 23 years.
Squire had an amusing anecdote after the band played "Don't Kill the Whale".
Quipping, "That song was about a mammal, this one's about a fish," he launched into the blistering bass solo "Whitefish," which morphed into a bass and drum version of "Tempus Fugit" from 1980's "Drama" LP.
The crowd roared as Anderson's harp was wheeled onstage, signaling the epic "Awaken," from 1977's "Going for the One". The beautiful interplay between harp and simulated church organ built to a soaring crescendo and marked an appropriate climax to the show. There was a brief moment of panic during the song, however, as the strap on Squire's triple-necked bass came undone, and he had to struggle to play his parts without dropping the enormous instrument.
But no Yes concert would be complete without "Roundabout," and the band obliged for its first encore. A lengthy workout on "Yours Is No Disgrace" closed the show, leaving the audience ecstatic and exhausted.
Hopefully this reunion will be permanent, but after abortive attempts in the past, we'll have to wait and see. The response the five veteran prog-rockers received shows that they should continue. And hopefully they will play some of their later material on future outings as well.
I agree with Jack Smack about the quality of the show - first time in years that I've seen them live because I live in a small town up north. Best live Heart of Sunrise I've ever heard. And it was amazing how Chris could continue to play when the strap to his triple-neck came loose in Awaken - that must be a very heavy bass!
I also agree with Jack about people TALKING through a concert! But I have to take exception to his comment about "pathetic, aging, middle america wankers"- I'm in my 40's and have been a serious fan of this band since 1972. I wasn't sitting in front of "middle aged white dorks"- these were younger people of very mixed ethnicities, who yelled at each other to be heard over the louder music. Rude people come in all ages and types...
tonights concert was yet another amazing performance by the band. everyone was in top form, the sound was excellent (one of the benefits of playing outdoors), and the weather was not TOO hot. the setlist was as per usual on this tour - but that is good news - this setlist may be the finest they have ever chosen. highlights of course are south side of the sky, the revealing science of god, awaken, and especially don't kill the whale!! the solos were also very tasteful and well received, and the newer songs from magnification fit in quite well with the old 'classics'.
the only drawback to tonights concert was that we happened to be sitting right in the midst of middle-aged white purgatory. most of the audience seemed to be very into the music, and very respectful of everyone else. however, we had the ill fate of being surrounded on 3 out of 4 sides by a throng of pathetic, aging, middle america wankers, who insisted on clapping along to the rhythm even when there was none...or, they insisted on talking as loud as possible to one another during the quieter moments...or, they tried to talk to us DURING THE SONGS about how great chris is, or how they never play 'south side', or the name of thier insipid offspring, etc! here is a word of advice to you middle aged white dorks: go get yourself a friend! we are not your friends! we are commies! you know who you are - we were there with you in the 7th row, down by squire and wakeman - next time you go to a yes concert, have a little respect and courtest for others! no one wants to hear your vacant thoughts on ANYTHING! bite me...and next time, if you cant take the numerous 'hints', you will receive much more than a mere 'shut up'!!!