What a great YesEvening. Showed up at Caesar's about 45 minutes before showtime with my 23-year-old Yes rookie nephew in tow (I figured since he's a Dave Matthews fanatic it wasn't a stretch). Thought about buying tickets from the box office but decided to hang around and wait for good luck/Karma/whatever to shine on us. Then along comes a somewhat downcast guy with two tickets that he (for some unknown reason about which I didn't pry) can't use. FRONt ROW right in front of Rick. Face value plus $5 and we were on our way... thank you, whoever you are!
Then, a great show. I've seen the talk about tempos being slow on some songs, missed cues, etc. but I sure didn't see it. The tempo for "Siberian Khatru" was right on from the first note. It's true that Jon's a little rough on the lower registers these days, and Rick had one brief flub midway through "Heart of the Sunrise," but who cares -- from a performance standpoint this was a flawless, high-energy show.
Setlist was another matter. It was the same show as this whole leg and again the crowd was not that into the Magnification tracks. I don't blame them... the Mag tracks just don't measure up to the older material, especially the first half of "In the Presence Of." That said, all of the Fragile and Close to the Edge material was played beautifully and got standing ovations. And while I'm not a big fan of the solos -- most days I'd gladly trade them for "Yours Is No Disgrace" and/or "Footprints" and/or "Parallels" -- Howe and Wakeman in particular are just so phenomenally talented that it's a pleasure to hear them play *anything*. As for Chris, he was... Chris. A total ham, constantly having the most fun in the room. And still a hell of a bass player. Ditto for Alan on the drums.
To cap things off, the video poker machines were kind to us on our brief post-show foray onto the casino floor, and on the way out we circled back past the box office and ran into Rick chatting with a couple of friends. I wished him well and we shook hands... wow, strong grip! :)
Another great Yes memory. Thanks, guys!
Second time for me this tour. (7/19/02 Kelseyville, CA, Konocti Field Amphitheatre was my first.)
Alan was really on all night. His playing on "South Side of the Sky" was interesting. I wondered if, to learn it, he'd gone back and listened to Bill's original drumming because Alan's work felt more jazzy. There were even more floor-tom rolls al la Bruford. It certainly worked well for the piece. I guess I hadnít been aware of some of the rhythm changes during the otherwise stately "In The Presence Of". It was cool to be counting along with the song only to have Alan switch from the regular beat to triplets. It was the best performance of this Iíd seen (including the SYMPHONIC DVD.)
Jon's solo spot started with "Happy Birthday" to anyone??? He sang/asked if it was anyone's birthday and gave it a couple of tries before giving up saying he was having trouble "getting [his] act together." All very good-natured and funny, of course. When "Long Distance Runaround" started he signaled for the audience to sing. And so they did. It was the most obvious and clear audience sing-along of the evening. Later, he said, "I think most of you probably know this one so sing along", before starting "We Have Heaven."
Steve appeared to be having troubles with his roadie. First, one of his guitars was knocked over. It fell with a clatter when his roadie tried to put it on its stand. Music was playing but I could see Steve mouth the word "scratch!" in and amongst the bickering that started. Then, when Steve came out for his solo spot he was trying to ask his roadie about some sound-mix setting - all the while playing the first piece without missing a beat. For his solo, Steve had moved to center-stage, to Jonís spot. He was annoyed with Jon's fan blowing up at him and said to his roadie that he wanted it turned off. I'm guessing the roadie never heard him because he didn't do anything about it. While moving around, every now and then, the fan would blow on him. Steve would looked down at it and then up at his roadie. Nothing. Finally, Steve had had enough and kicked the fan over, scowling at his roadie. At other times in the show, there were missed cues as to when his slide guitar was to be pushed out in front of him. Steve would have to coordinate sliding the rig out with his foot or his knee - while playing - in time to quickly switch to the next instrument. I'll be honest, it made for interesting audience viewing, but I did feel bad for Steve. He appeared genuinely distracted by all of the nonsense - though it never hurt his performance.
Steve and Rick really traded off on "Heart of the Sunrise" with some laughter across the stage between the two. Steve would do some wacky line and Rick, during his turn, would "mock" it a bit. Rick had a decent church organ sound - always a critical point when performing "Close To The Edge" and "Awaken", live. Being the day after Thanksgiving, Rick dropped a couple of lines of "Rudolf the Red-Nosed Reindeer" into his solo to much audience laughter.
Rick and Chris were joking around a lot. At one point, after a song ended, Rick came out from behind his keyboards and helped Chris remove his bass from around his neck (implying that Chris were invalid). Those two did the most joking around throughout the show.
Chris was his usual, funny self at those times when the music hangs in the balance, waiting for his next bass note. Heíd pause and look around as if to say, "What? Why are you all looking at me?" very innocently. Again, the audience ate this stuff up and with much laughter. His bass sounds were amazing. And what a flawless performance! His back up vocals were very good. (Steve's vocals were great, too.)
The whole show was one of the best Iíve seen of Yes. The energy - particularly from the audience - now that Rick is back in the band - is super-charged. It makes the music that much more powerful.