They were lazy, lazy, lazy. It felt like going through the motins, and apart from the acoustic version of To Be Over, there was no though or originality to the set. It tried my patience, I can tell you. And thanks very much to the nerd who sat behind me (stalls row 3) and spent the whole evening commenting in great detail on the keyboard set up. My experience wouldn't have been the same without it. Please come round my house anytime and entertain me for the evening. I'll make sure I'm out.
I don't have a great deal to add to much of what's been said here already, but I feel some comment is merited.
Subjectivity is a funny old thing. Some comments have suggested that Steve Howe was a little subdued tonight while others have commented on how "hot" he was. Well I'm in the latter group. When the show starts with Siberian Khatru you can usually have a good idea within the first few notes of what sort of form Steve is in . At this show I was surprised by the sense of excitement he seemed to generate in the first bars of the song. He even included the frequently (indeed almost invariably) omitted "chokka-wokka" (for want of a better descriptive term) from the guitar intro. That pricked my ears up immediately! And he carried on in the same vein. I'm not sure if there was a problem with his Gibson 355, but he was always a little low in the mix when playing that instrument and as a consequence one of his better solos in SK was somewhat lost in the melee. When he picked up a different instrument however, he was right up there. He threw in lots of little flourishes and soloed like a demon. His fingertips must have needed hosing down after the show! At one point he distinctly threw an impromptu "Yeah" at the microphone too (I'd not seen him do that before) and I got the distinct impression that it was largely at Steve'e behest that Yours is No Disgace was thrown in at the end.
Not much to add about Chris. Bombastic bass to the fore as we've all come to expect. A little too much to the fore on occasion, but never overwhelmingly so. I had a very good view of Rick's hands during Roundabout and he really has got very twiddly fingers, although I can't help feeling that his solo spots nowadays are just a little short of the excesses of showmanship in which he used to indulge in his youth. Having said that his dashing around between keyboards during the remainder of the set was utter showmanship and more than made up for what has already been described as a rather workmanlike solo spot.
I should end with a confession. I realised halfway through the first half of the show that I'd seen Jon somewhere before. He looks just like how I imagine Shaggy from Scooby-Doo would in middle age! I ought to make clear that that's not a bad thing, by the way.
All Yes shows have highlights and for some it was the sight of Rick Wakeman stepping onto a London stage once more as a member of the group. For me it was Steve’s version of “To Be Over” which as truly outstanding. How can folk still call for TR to return when this level of perfection can be seen year in year out and on such a wide body of work? I’ve always been envious reading American reviews of “Leaves of Green” as London normally gets Mood for a Day and Clap so to see TBO was truly memorable. Perhaps the lads will join in on the next tour.
There were some true moments of magic; In the Presence Of, South Side of the Sky, And You and I (despite Jon snatching a line early) Heart of the Sunrise and Awaken. Then when I thought it would be Starship we got Yours Is No Disgrace – and what a version!
So was it better with Rick or not? Last time the orchestra was wonderful and with Igor it wasn’t bad either but this was back to the great showmanship days of the Tormato and ABWH shows I saw. His abilities match those of Steve and Chris in their respective instruments so keyboards seem to tussle more rather than being a little subservient in the mix. Overall I do think it is the best line up I’ve seen not going back earlier than Tormato but reading the programme notes makes me feel concerned as everyone’s looking forward and that normally ends in tears.
Having done Fragile is it the turn of Going for the One next time? We know Rick doesn’t favour Relayer much so it appears time for Parallels, GFTO and Turn of the Century to be dusted down and perhaps Mind Drive, Children of the Light and Madrigal could get a look in?
If Rick agreed to do To Be Over, would Jon consider Does It Really Happen and Chris Birthright or Brother of Mine from ABWH. After all Steve has played Owner through gritted teeth on occasions?
Here’s to the 2004 tour!
By the way – Ian Burgess how the bloody hell are you – hope you hit the “chink chink” in YIND!
Having followed Yes for years it was quite amazing that this was the first time I'd actually seen them with Rick Wakeman. My first reaction was I had missed the essential element that mad Yes the creative force they have always been. The creative genius that Yes are has lost none of its power and ability to provoke and stir emotion. Stirring renditions of Heart of the sunrise, South side of the sky, And you and I, and even newer songs such as In the presence of, still produce that tingle down the spine. Combine this musical genius with a totally absorbed and receptive audience and you have a powder keg for a truly majestic experience. Even the solos (so often the bane of many a concert)had the ability to hold the spectator captive. Steve Howe's renditions of To be over and The clap were as articulate as ever, Jon Anderson's and Rick Wakemans solo's continued the theme by kicking off the second set. However,the best was left til the end. After many years gigging, there are seldom moments that have the ability to reduce one's emotions to a sense of wonder and tears, yet such was my personal experience during Yes's tour-de-force Awaken. Wakeman's keyboard and Anderson's harp combination was simply spellbinding, and the crescendo of the finale and the star burst effects were breath taking. It simply doesn't get any better than that. As a final thought, it is so good to see Yes actually enjoying what they are doing. Its no longer a case of playing for the money or promoting albums, its playing out of the sincere love of playing. Pompous? Boring old farts? Not on your life!
All in all, a strong set which brought the house down, though there were drawbacks here and there.
SK opened well, but the band seemed to lose cohesiveness for the next 3 songs, thankfully bringing it back together as ITPO came to its conclusion.
Strong performances from Steve and Chris in particular. Steve's acoustic TBO was absolutely fantatstic and got a warm reception from the crowd. Chris seems to have toned down the tinny twang of his Rickenbacker this time round, with mpre emphasis on a 'dirtier' sound - all in all a great improvement, not to mention the little extra flourishes added to AYAI and HOTS which were tremendous....the man, the God.....Chris Squire!
Jon seems to have been deliriously happy most of the gig, especially during AYAI and kept running off to dance with a woman I assumed was Janeeeee....from the 15th row she looked about 22 so no wonder he's full of beans! The ultraviolet light during the central section of Awaken further reinforced Jon's evangelical persona (if you've seen it, you know what I mean)....utterly ludicrous, but when you're there, really quite charming, and always sincere.
Musical highlights - (not including Chris rolling up his sleeves before his solo in an exagerated fashion - the crowd loved it)...obviously SOTS....given a truly heavy treatment and the harmony section was totally nailed. HOTS - pure heaven and Awaken of course, which did not really catch fire till about halfway through, when Rick started the 'choral' section, but from here on in was as mindblowing as ever. I am sure there were people speaking in tongues in the first 5 rows...also of note was the starfield lighting effect which was a great surprise and really effective.
Could have done without the usual suspects on the encore though Steve's 'Shaft' style wah wah effect was pretty cool.
All in all a lot of love going back and forth between the band and the crowd which I think is pretty much unique to Yes concerts.......now someone slap me before I get transported to Planet Jon. Roll on Edinburgh on Sunday......
First time seeing Yes since Relayer (1975) and TOTO (1973)tours so good to see how much stayed the same. Disappointing first half but really rocked in the second - fantastic encore. I think I must be getting old but every concert I go to by whoever seems to have overamplified cymbals whose sound seems to hang around like a wall of not very tuneful sound (like being inside a tin can) and drowns out the more delicate instrumentation. Any comments on that (medical or otherwise) would be interesting. [The Eagles at Earls Court was the worst - had to leave before I started shouting at people for mindlessly applauding a very poor sounding, though excellently played set.]
Sorry a bit of irrelevance there
Missed the great stage sets of years ago and thought Rick was a bit subdued - recently saw him on solo tour and he was much more flamboyant when released from the restrictions of band structures. Also amazed at how often audience was caught out by thinking the songs were finished and clapping early - you should listen to the records more to get your timing right.
Unfortunately have now to take day of work to go and listen to old Yes black round things without annoying the family who do not really like them, particularly at high volume!!
1 July 2003 Hammersmith Apollo
25 years a fan and never seen them live, hence my expectations were perhaps a tad high. However in a hundred ways, and despite some justifiable criticisms, these five familiar guys delivered value for money you just can’t get from anyone else nowadays. They were professionals and they were clearly having fun doing what they did best.
There was a home crowd atmosphere in the Apollo – Yes were “our boys” back from 35 years of making it big out there in the wide world. Some lifelong fans might not have chosen the “Greatest Hits” setlist, but 90% of it was perfectly calculated for the mood of the evening.
The sound started a little muddy, with Chris’ bass overwhelming Steve and Rick and Jon straining a bit to be heard. But it steadily improved, as did the quality of the songs as the set progressed.
Reception for SK was a little muted and it was a good idea to segue MAGNIFICATION into DKTW, as the former was the weakest song by far. ITPO, however, worked fairly well. Then things warmed up. SSOTS had a rousing reception and AYAI was the best version I have ever heard. Steve’s new acoustic version of TBO was excellent (recording please!) and made me think how extraordinary a completely acoustic Yes set could be (cf the BBC’s Unplugged series).
After the break Jon did a nice SHOW ME then, to tumultuous cheers Rick did his solo spot – a bit workmanlike but the audience loved it. HOTS and LDR were as on YESSONGS, then Chris played to the crowd as he limbered up for his solo spot (rolling up sleeves etc) and they loved it. Terrific medley: even OTSWOF. The climax was a long and embellished version of AWAKEN. This is what Yes is all about.
And we got THREE encores! A note-perfect ISAGP, a short driving ROUNDABOUT then a bonus YIND (which almost made me miss my train).
Disappointments: few really – no ST (my wife was stricken), fairly horrible venue with long toilet queues and (for me) a set with not really enough quiet moments when their brilliance can really shine.
Surprises: the terrific humour from the band (definitely give Rick a mike too), their sheer energy, the total adoration of the (mostly male, middle-aged and overweight) audience and the big smile I had on my face all the way home.
Like other contributors, this was my 25th anniversary as well. And just as 25 years ago at Wembley, It was another 14yr olds first Yes gig, and first gig full stop as I accompanied my niece to the show - which she enjoyed immensely, although she found it a bit loud. Not loud enough by half - shouted her (obviously) hard of hearing uncle!
As for me, I found the show disappointing and inspirational in equal measure - even our heroes grow old eventually! It was all a bit too sedate until late in the 2nd half when Awaken reminded everyone of just how powerful and genuinely moving a piece of music can be.
Steve Howe needed prodding with a pointed stick and didn't really get to operating temperature until the end when he more than made up for the previous period by producing the most amazing solos in perpetual change & yours is no disgrace
Alan White seemed to be allergic to his kit as he spent the entire evening tickling it as though his sticks were in fact the barge poles he apparently wished them to be. So not one of his best, but we all have off days.
Chris Squire was as forthright as usual, tight trousers, middle age spread and all. 'That' bass sound is one of the chief reasons that I love to listen to Yes. It just seems to make room for itself in the overall sound in a way that other basses just can't. And speaking as a drummer, deeply suspicious of 'wooly' bass sounds, it is a joy to actually be able to hear what your bass player is up to. Every time the Ricky was ditched in favour of other instruments the overall effect was diminished - South side of the Sky and Awaken in particular. But instruments need tuning, re stringing etc during performances so I can't be too upset. Those 3 neck guitars don't get any lighter though, do they Chris!
Rick Wakeman just gets better and better, and although I think his solo spot could've been more musically interesting, his technique just astounds.
Jon Anderson sung brilliantly (as did Chris Squire), but should've been turned up a bit. His stage announcements were quite good, judging by previous experience, and reveal him now to be orbiting at least in the vicinity of Earth. Perhaps next time Rick could be provided with a mic as well, as, if we are to be regaled with amusing anecdotes between numbers, then a 'down the pub with Rick' spot would surely be worth the price of admission alone.
Gripes aside, a very enjoyable greatest hits show by one of the most inventive, yet derided (see John Peels outburst on the BBCs Glastonbury coverage), bands around.
For Mr Peel's benefit, do you think we would have the likes of Radiohead, Elbow et al if it weren't for previous musical pioneers such as Yes? Also, and I don't know if anyone else spotted this, following said outburst, they showed part of the performance of The David Holmes Experience. At the risk of descending into anorak territory, I noticed that their bass player seemed to be playing a Ricky bass - and not just any Ricky bass, but none other than one of the limited edition Chris Squire signature models of which there are just 1000 in existence. Now you would have to be a fairly committed Squire fan to own one of these instruments as they are collectors items. My point being that if Yes are as pretentious and irrelevant as suggested, what is the bass player from a current 'hip beat combo' doing displaying his influences so clearly. I just thought the irony of the juxtaposition was great given the vitriol displayed not 5mins before.
So here's to the next 25 years - who knows, maybe I'll be wheeled in by my grandchild!!
Before last night, I was one of the doubters who was slightly disappointed by Rick Wakeman's return to the band, largely because I thought it would exclude from the live repertoire my favourite stuff - like "The Gates of Delirium" and "Ritual" which were unearthed for the Yessymphonic Tour.
Neither of those tunes appear in the current set list but that is no surprise. However, Wakeman's return appears genuinely to have re-energised the band. They smoked last night, not least Howe who was on astonishing form. "Awaken" was a beatiful moment, but the surprising highlight for me was the encore: "I've Seen All Good People", "Roundabout" (abbreviated) and a roaring version of "Yours Is No Disgrace", all played with an energy I have not seen from the band in years. And at breakneck pace! Over played these pieces may be, but they sounded fresh and exciting.
A great show. Really looking forward to tonight's rerun!
It's the 30th Anniversary of Yes touring Japan and Australia.
Not sure what it's the 30th Anniversary of, (Yes have been around for 35 years and this current line up first performed 31 years ago) but anyway, I've got tickets for this concert and I'm going with me mate Martin with whom I first saw Yes 25 years ago at Wembley AND with the same line-up! So It'll be our Yes Silver Jubilee! looking forward to this one.....