My source in Toronto reported zero soundcheck, the band arrived at the venue at 7:45, or about 20 minutes before going on. Considering the horrible weather that night, I'm happy they showed up at all, but not doing soundchecks has seemingly become the norm for them, which is fine, *if* the soundman is world class & really knows his stuff, which I'm not at all convinced Yes' does.
A Huge Fan of Yes
Well here is a few thoughts about last nights show by the best band this planet has ever seen or ever will see. Another great show at Massey Hall. It was a high energy show and Rick Wakeman was really on the ball last night. I thought he played a lot better last night than he did at the Molson Amphitheatre this summer past. Shame of it was that my wife and I ended up with the same crummy gallery seats we had at the November show five years ago (think hard wooden seats of a size that would be comfortable to a primary school child and a terrible view of Wakeman/Squire). It was nearly impossible to see Rick from where we were sitting. Had to lean over the back of the seat of the guy in front of me just to catch a glimpse of him from time to time. Chris came in and out of the view thoughout the night.
Steve was having a lot of equipment trouble early on. He kept walking up to one of the monitors behind him and putting his ear to it. Then he would shrug his shoulders and shake his head at the quitar tech who would come out and twiddle a few knobs. This went on several times. I find it strange that the stage crew doesn't have everthing set up properly before the band comes out to start the show. It took away some of the momentum of the show and created a lot of confusion on stage. A bit later, Steve got an enormous blast of feedback from the sound equipment. It stopped him dead in his tracks. My wife and I both saw it as it happened. He stopped playing, blinked really hard a few times and then shook his head real hard as if to clear the ringing in his ears. I felt sorry for him. It looked like it hurt his ears. After these initial problems it was smooth sailing. Man he is fun to watch.
Jon was very entertaining last night. He is so funny some times. Some card in the audience kept yelling "Friends of Mr. Cairo" whenever Jon would try and talk to the audience. Strange. I think it really flustered Jon actually. I'm not sure we heard him right, but we swore that he couldn't remember the name of the album that the song "Magnification" was on! Did anyone else catch this dialog with the audience? At one point he told the audience, "It's freezing". I think these little exchanges with the audience are cool. It makes you feel at home. As if he is just talking to old friends and that's the way it should be. He did a nice little solo bit with Wakeman on stage after the intermission. I liked it although the audience was pretty luke warm to it.
Chris was ever the showman again last night. That guy can really rock. The triple neck quitar he uses on "Awaken" is fantastic. They should really consider doing "In the Silent Wings of Freedom" in it's entirety. Rockin good tune.
Steve's solo was awesome. If anyone recognized the first song he did could you please post the name of it? I've heard it before but can't place it. It must be off "Beginnings" or one of his numerous solo albums. The crowd was very receptive and gave him a big standing ovation after he finished "Clap". I think he could play "Too Be Over" on an acoustic for a solo. Wouldn't that be neat?
Rick sounded great during his solo. He played some excerpts from "Six Wives of Henry VIII". Shame I couldn't really see him though.
Alan was fantastic as usual. We had a really good view of him from where we were sitting. Don't you wish they would play "Sound Chaser"? I think that it would really showcase Alan's talents. He's a great drummer and that song would really give him a chance to show the audience his stuff. It is amazing how many little details he fills in on the cymbals during "Awaken". Never really noticed it before but there was nothing else to look at from where we were sitting during some of Rick's passages. Silver lining to every cloud I guess.
The set list was pretty similar to the show this summer as everyone has probably read about a million times. SSOTS and HOTS were fun to see again. I would love to see them p
Not musically one of their best shows, lots of mistakes, but they seemed to be having a blast onstage which kind of made up for it.
But there was one *wonderful* moment, during Starship Trooper (the encore--no Roundabout, & Howe blew the ending AGAIN), when Squire does his usual jaunt across the stage as he's doing his dramatic solo bit to attempt to get some sort of response from Howe (you know the moment--Howe usually acts as if Squire isn't even there).......well last night, Chris was having none of it, he came over to Steves side and started trying to kick his legs, and Howe started kicking back, then both of them started doing this Keystone Cops-like sped up little kickfest, it was *hilarious*, I'm still laughing about it 15 hours later. :)))
Other observations-- The best CttE I've heard in years, nice tempo, Howe stellar, *great* keyboard solo.
Wakey has retooled his solo spot, *much* improved, no drum sequencer in sight (halleluja).
White had a terribly off night, he blew the intro to HotS big time, Squire seemed to be giving him shit about it, from that point on he seemed to be dourly going through the motions. Maybe he wasn't feeling well, but it wasn't the same old Alan last night.
Magnification does not work as 2nd song of the evening. It sounds empty & meandering, in fact they should lose this one altogether, it *needs* the orchestra, Wakeys noodlings don't cut it.
The backing tape of the vocal "la la lalala la la lalala" in SSotS got away from them last night, completely out-of-synch with what they were actually singing (which turns out to be-- not much at all), they were lucky to get out of it in one piece but it was very illuminating to me ;-).
Here's something I found interesting-- during the closing guitar solo of Siberian Dirge, Howe went up to one of his Fender Twins, and, as he's playing, _put his ear right against it_(!!), then signalled to his tech that something wasn't right. Since the 2 amps are side by side, and *we* could hear the guitar fine, I can only assume that his volume onstage is *extremely* low, either that or he's deaf, I can't even imagine putting my ear up against the amps of any guitarist I've ever played with.
Steve now has his pedal steel mounted on a litte wheeled cart, which the roadie is *supposed* to wheel out & take away as needed, but Howe did most of the fetching & pushing away himself. The cart serves double duty as a holder/stand for his Corel sitar, makes for a funny-looking contraption. I think Howes roadie must have one of the hardest jobs in the business lol Squires Fish solo went from Silent Wings straight into Schlinderia, no Sound Chaser excerpt.
That red shirt he wore on the first leg is now a washed out & faded pale pink, time for the trash maybe? He wore a white version for the second set. (It also looked like he was wearing--dare I say it-- *bowling shoes*) Light show much improved over the summer leg. Same number of lights, but a good lighting tech knows it's not what you have but what you do with it ;-) The big plexiglass Yes logo was absent, I wish the cheezy projections had been as well, they don't need 'em.
Show Me sucked last summer & it's gotten much worse. Sorry Jon. Steve no longer sits in a chair for his solo spot but comes to center stage. (he sits on a stool for his interminable The Fish harmonics though) Last summer Howe himself announced a 15 minute intermission, last night it was some offstage DJ sounding guy.
Speaking of Steve, I have to take back much of what I've said in the past. I was watching him very carefully last night from only a couple of yards away, and the man is a *Master* of the guitar. Any speed he's lost he's made up for in some very tasteful playing, plus he was more animated than I've seen him in years, smiling, doing his funny and quirky jerky-motions, and I didn't notice him trying to "catch up" even once. Last night, he was the Steve Howe I remember.