19 years, 8 months and 26 days ago
Sunday, September 14, 2003
International Forum Hall - A
Well, tonight was finally the night. Twenty-one years of following Yes, and tonight would be the first time that I would ever see them. I live in Australia, and their appearences there have been rather scarce over the years, in fact the March 1973 tour was it, and being only 8 years old back then, seeing Yes was the last thing on my mind.
Well, times change, and when I heard that the Full Circle Tour was heading to Japan and then Australia, I knew that this might well be my only shot of seeing them, especially in this classic line-up. Luckily I have a friend (and a fellow Yes-fan) in Japan who has been telling me to come over for a while, and he arranged tickets for 3 of the 4 Japanese gigs. I duly took time off work and booked tickets to Japan for 2 weeks in Febuary. Unfortunately the band obviously didn't turn up, but as Japan is an ace country to visit, I suspect that I had a better time that month than Jon did.
The dates were rescheduled, and I arranged to visit Japan again, thus putting myself into debt for a long long time. However it would be worth it - this was the line-up and set list to see, and I wasn't content with just going to the Australian shows.
So here I am tonight, having just witnessed my first Yes gig, and I'm already looking forward to tomorrow night's show at the same venue.
Japan is an interesting place to see a gig. Tonight's gig was due to start at 5pm with the doors opening at 4pm, so we showed up at 3.30 and queued up. Sunday night gigs in Japan are usually this early as a lot of people don't work on a Sunday, as opposed to a weekday where gigs usually start at 6 or 7 pm in order to allow people to get to the venue from work. The doors opened promptly at 4 pm (everything is prompt in Japan!!!) and we made our way upstairs to the souvenir stands. These were divided into 3 - the first tables had Yes cds for sale, and as we passed them, the sellers were actively shouting at us to get us to come and see their cds. They had most Yes cds for sale, and while the limited-edition Japanese card sleeves were quite tempting, I had my eye on something else - t-shirts! The second group of stalls had generic t-shirts from the tour in 6 or so designs. Sadly, they weren't t-shirts that were exclusive to Japan, as they seem to be made to cover the whole European and far east legs of the tour, but I bought a couple anyway ( 4,500 yen and 3,500 yen - about $100 Australian - ouch!) and then moved on to the third group of stalls, which were selling programs ( 2,500 yen - about $Aus35 - ouch again.).
After a couple of beers, we entered the venue itself, and were rather impressed. The International Forum hall is quite a new building, and has a lovely design. There are 3 levels, and the two upper levels are directly above the floor level facing the stage, meaning that one can be up on the top level ( as we were) and still be rather close to the stage. The stage itself was the main centre of attention though, as the simple backdrop had a purple light shone on it which also illuminated the Yes logo that was hanging from the roof. The equipment was already set up on the stage, and had silver material draped around Rick's keyboards, Alan's drums and Steve's amps. To be honest, it looked a bit crappy, as if someone had added it at the last moment, but this proved to be irrelevant, as immediately the clock hit 5pm ( did I mention Japanese punctuality?) the first chords of the Firebird Suite intro were heard, the lights dimmed, and the band walked on stage.
Japanese audiences can be quite reserved, but quite honestly they went nuts when the band appeared. They are always dead silent while the band play, but go crazy when it is time to applaud, and I really like it that way!
As the Firebird Suite plays on, Yes bask in the applause, pointing at each other as if to say "Applaud this person, not me." Jon realises that his mic is missing, gestures off stage, and then directs the appl