A second night for Yes at the Tower theatre, which was originally built as a cinema in 1927 and has good all-round acoustics. This time I managed to hear the whole Porcupine Tree set – another fabulous performance. Steven Wilson is a force of musical nature.
For some reason I was much more tuned in by the time Yes took to the stage tonight. For me things really pick up with ‘South Side of the Sky’, featuring a guitar/keyboards trade-off at the end. ‘Close to the Edge’ and ‘Awaken’ remain the stand-outs, of course. ‘Heart of the Sunrise’ was incredibly powerful. I’m not sure that the keyboard arrangements for ‘Magnification’ and ‘In The Presence Of’ are compelling substitutes for Larry Groupe’s orchestral ones.
Personally, I’d lose the Wakeman and Squire solos and re-insert ‘And You And I’ into the set, but the overall balance between old and new, group and individual cameos, has been carefully planned. That said, Jon Anderson’s ‘Show Me’ seems twee and forgettable, though Chris Squire adds pleasing bass embellishments to provide further interest. The shorter ‘Roundabout’ (which Steve remembered was being played tonight) and an abbreviated ‘Wurm’ got people onto their feet at the end.
I’ve often heard of the special chemistry between Yes and Philadelphia, and felt some of it on live recordings. Tonight I tasted it properly in Upper Darby. It was packed out. Great to have been here.
I agree with the other accounts about the Philly/Yes magic. I'd like to point out that there was a problem with Steve's guitar during Illusion before Life Seeker. He switched from acoustic to electric in midstream although the acoustic problem threw the vocals out of sync for a moment. With a wave as if to gesture all around the stage Squire emphasized the line "this is all confusion..."
I really enjoyed this show quite a bit. The Tower has always provided a great atmosphere and very good accoustics for concerts. Having seen somewhere in the neighborhood of 25-30 Yes shows since the mid 1970's, I really think they sounded as good if not better this time around then they have on their last several tours. Considering their ages and the music they perform, I think they sounded really together for the most part.
Here's to hoping they keep coming back to Philly for the next several years.
I had the fun of once again dealing with partial obstructed view seats on SAT, and I was in the 10th row (GG)! I had to deal with a screech owl, a maestro, and two sashaying girls to rows in front of me!
THE SCHREECH OWL: This girl should register her voice as a lethal weapon! When SIBERIAN started, she started this high pitch squeel, that probably hurt dog's ears within a block RADIUS of the TOWER! After the song ended, there was a pause. I was about to turn and ask her to stop- I had my head sideways to the stage, and what I thought was a sharp microphone feedback was an ear drum piercing shreek from ms owl. At that point I asked her to cut it out which she did... The sashaying girls who were the only ones standing in the entire theatre during the first few songs of the show recieved the loudest "SIT DOWN PLEASE!" directed bellow from yours truly--man that felt good! So that left me with the maestro. As his beer flow increased during the show, his hand waving, flailing left arm reduced my visibilty to about 50%, and he was way off his 3-4 meter timing during AWAKEN! I had given up bellowing and begging, and just left it as one of those imperfect moments to be written about later! One more thing-- WMGK broadcasted the entire weekend from the TOWER. On FRI, ALAN and RICK talked with local DJ ED SCIAKY who has helped YES in PHILA over the years. Anyway, right in the middle of this imprompto interview, RICK blurts out to ED: So, I see the sex change went well for you! Perhaps we should now be calling you ED-WEENA! SO YES, when I got into the TOWER, I approached ED and said, Hello, EDWEENA! Apparently several fans did it- he just shook his head! I saw RICK after the gig, and thanked him for that little rib!
THE SHOWS WERE GREAT, PERIOD!
I got down to the Tower around 7:30 and it was SOLD OUT! Over the last ten years or so, I've been used to either walking up and buying or grabbing from someone else who got stuck with an extra ticket. There were alot of people looking but not many supplying. Luckily there was an opening act, Porcupine Tree, so I could buy time. I COULDN'T miss this one! Not after waiting almost 30 years to see them perform South Side Of The Sky! Eventually I got one from a guy who had seen it last night(also a sold out show!) and was looking to sell his seat for tonight. Success! And what a seat! 13th row center! PERFECT sight and sound! Everyone there was very attentive and into it. This band is LOVED in Philly! I'd heard horror stories of this tour of bad sound, mediocre performance, inattentive audience, and venues only a 3rd full! NO SUCH PROBLEMS HERE! EXCEPT......Well, I guess there's always one apple in the bunch. Some loud(drunken?) girl sat down right behind me right before the band launched into We Have Heaven/South Side Of The Sky and started in really loudly with "WHAT SONG IS THIS?" Her date also spoke loudly, mostly responding to her. I wanted to turn around and say, "If I tell you, will you let me hear it?" They disappeared soon afterwards, but came back later before the band started The Fish. "OH, I KNOW THIS ONE. I KNOW THIS ONE!" she proclaimed very loudly. GREAT, NOW LET ME HEAR IT! I"M GLAD YOU KNOW IT!!!!!!! Right before Awaken I was imagining a murder one condition if she dared speak during that one. Thankfully she and the guy moved away again! Other than that one minor incident, it was a beautiful experience. I thought I was back in a seventies crowd! I would say this was probably the BEST Yes show I've ever seen. And I've never ever seen a bad one!
Prozakcbluesman and Colorado Mountain Girl
Wow, what a great show!!! We went to the Saturday show and overall, we thought Saturday's performance was strong and had more energy than Friday night. This was about as hot as we've ever seen them (caveat: we never saw them in the 1970's). All the guys were on, and Close to the Edge and Awaken were simply phenomenal, Siberian Khatru, South Side... and Heart of the Sunrise were strong. Even the new songs came out great. Starship Trooper was glorious, but there seemed to be a miscue towards the end of the song, and Jon was able to pull everyone back together to recover (Philadelphia!). The sound was excellent in the venue, even in our nosebleed seats (Row Q, Upper Balcony - can we sit any further away???)
All the band were in great spirits. It is good to see Steve Howe actually smiling and enjoying himself on tour. We can only say one thing about Rick Wakeman's return to YES: Thank You!!! I think we speak for many YES fans when we say we are so happy to see Rick playing with YES again! he is such a natural fit with this band, and even though his replacements thru the years (from Patrick Moraz to Tom Breslin) have been more than adequate, Rick brings so much more to the stage. Jon's voice was crystal clear as always, and Chris and Alan kept the pulse of the band strong and vibrant.
The opening act was Porcupine Tree - an odd choice as an opening act seeing how dark and brooding PTree can be, while YES is a sunny, happy, harmony band. I saw PTree last year at NEARFest and at the TLA in Phila., they were much better as a headliner because we got more exposure to a greater variety of songs. Steve Wilson's singing and playing was on, as was new member Gavin Harrison and his drumming. They received a luke-warm reception from YES fans after their set. PTree deserves more than this, I guess this environment was not appropriate for them. I would like to have caught one of the shows where PTree headlined on their own - I am sure they would have been in better spirits and not so rushed as they were when opening for YES.
For the most part the audience was well behaved, but every here and there were a few folks who just seem to think that there is a need to shout out, whistle or whatever during the songs, especially the quieter parts. What is with these people? The muscians don't like it, the other audience members don't like it - so just shut it!
OK - I hate ending it on a negative note so - We hope to see these very same 5 YES gentlemen on tour again soon. We would love to see them continue rotating songs in and out of the setlist. A wish list for next time: And You And I, Perpetual Change, To Be Over, Turn of the Century, and Madrigal! Or how about Then, Survival or Angor Wat (from Union). I could keep going here, but better not get greedy! See you all next time!!!
Wonderful show...full of energy and YES magic! I think its Philly...
If I may add to the posted set list:
Steve played Second Initial/Clap Rick played Excerpts from Six Wifes(Aragon/Howard & Seymour) not AYAI
As always I love a good Yes concert....this one was good but not one of the best. Rick was much better than the earlier shows in 2002. His solo was wonderful. Alan was great and is still the fabric that keeps all of the years of Yes music together. Chris was very good,(OYE tour was sharper) but I wish he would not do his EL-KABONG bass thumping part in Wurm. Jons voice held up well and Steve is still the best guitar player since Django Reinhardt. Bits fell apart at times (Like the end of Starship Trooper), but for the money you have a hard time finding music that stands the test of time like live Yes music...decade after decade. Damm...I should not have said that decade part...I have been a fan since 9th grade and I am 47 now. And what makes this concert sweeter is the fact I did not get caught recording this one like the Merriweather 2002 show. Look for it on Yesswap ...totally free of course. Oh yeah.... I forgot... There were way to many drunk guys there... I... know.... I know... they had Yingling on tap. But for the prices they charge you must be rich to get drunk there. Please, if you are going to spend money at a concert buy a tee shirt or program and show others that you where there.They are pricey too but do last longer than a buzz.
Just got back from the show at the Tower. I am absolutely amazed at the quality of playing by guys in their mid to upper 50's. By no means a perfect show, or the best show I ever saw kind of show, but a very good performance. There is nothing like Yes in Philly.
Siberian started off very slow. Nothing like the record or early shows. Must be an age thing. Second half of song was better. Wakeman was great. And he was great all night long, much better than the Tweeter Center (Camden) in August.
Magnification - nicely done. Nice transition into Don't Kill the Whale. Which was also played a bit slower but not as slow as S.K.
In the Presence of - great song. Very well done.
We Have Heaven - no choice but to use pre-recorded tracks. Still came off very well. Transition to South Side-WAY TOO SLOW. Once again the second half of the song was better and the dueling solo's at the end between Steve and Rick made up for the very slow start.
Close to the Edge - Surprisingly, not too slow. Not as fast as the old days but not as slow as recent tours. This was one of the best songs of the night.
Solo's-all were fantastic. Steve was awesome and Rick was really on tonight. Jon's solo song was beautiful. Funny moment when Jon came out after Steve's first solo as if he was finished and it was time for the band to come back but Steve gave him a look like get the hell out of here I am not done yet. Jon laughed and sauntered his way off stage and Steve went right into Clap..
Heart of the Sunrise - outstanding as always. Sharrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrp, Distannnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnce, oh man!!
LDR - same old thing. I would like to see them drop this one. Nothing wrong with the performance just tired of this one.
Squire solo - awesome as always. Chris is playing great. Tempus Fugit and On the Silent Wings of Freedom. Boy I wish they would play at least one of these in full.
Awaken - everyone was on for this one. Another show highlight. Rick had to help Chris get the Triple neck off. Chris needs to watch his weight.
Encores: Roundabout - it looked like they were going to play the long version when Steve started on the long version acoustic intro but they left out the middle section as they have been doing. Another funny moment when Steve went to play the intro on the acoustic it wasn't plugged in. He look at the audience, smiled, plugged it in and went on with it.
Starship Trooper closed the show and this was very well done. Steve missed the que to end the song and kept on with his solo which then confused everyone else and they mish mashed there way to the end. Actually turned out okay, IMO.
All in all an above average show. Lets say a grade of B to B+. If they would have played SK and SSOTS a bit faster I would have given them an A.
Thanks Steve, Rick, Alan, Chris and Jon for another night of Yes in Philly. Let's hope for some new music in 2003 and I would love to see a show at the old Spectrum next year just for old times sake. Maybe a Prog festival type show would help fill the Spectrum or first Union Center. It is possible. Both Tower shows were sold out.