Laying on an extra concert in Oxford to raise funds for the commendable charity Helen’s House (now www.helenanddouglas.org.uk), which supports hospice care for children and young people, was a good idea. Making it an extended acoustic set provided something different musically, too. However, there were some disappointed attenders who hadn’t realized that they would get a truncated performance and set-list, so the box office got a number of complaints.
A few of us skipped the first part of the show, due to the appearance of Rick Wakeman’s pal Jim Davidson – a stand-up comedian known for his crass and offensive ‘jokes’ about women, gay people, disabled people, rape victims, ethnic minorities, and others. No doubt he toned it down for this occasion, but for me and for others I talked to his presence spoiled the first half of the event.
The Yes acoustic set itself was delivered with good humour, though in places it felt a little under-rehearsed. I was in the Oxford area anyway, and grabbed a ticket at the last moment. But I wouldn’t describe it as my favourite evening with the band, I’m afraid. I am glad the charity benefitted, at least.
Manuel Garcia from France
This was the first music show in my life, and the fact it was a Yes one... Woah ! My father and I came from France especially to watch the show, which can make think how fond of the band we are... And we couldn't imagine that it was going to be played acoustic. But the magic was still here, because you can play the Yes music with any instrument, electrical or acoustic, magic never goes away. A fantatisc pianist, a wonderful guitar player, a voice that creates a sound halo, an hard-holded rythm and a mystic bass... Everything was here at this moment ; a music moment so much better than when I'm listening to the bands' albums. Yes music is truly magic when it's played live 20 meters before you. Truly magic...
This was my third and last show on this tour, and surely one of the best Yes shows I attended. I don't know why some people here and there complain about the format of the show. After all, it was announced as a charity event involving Yes and other people, and it was well announced beforehand that Yes would do only a short acoustic set. And in the end we still got about an hour and a half of Yes, so why complain ;-)
I did not care that much about the first half of the event. After all, I'm French and know nothing about Jim Davison and the other performers. But the audience seemed to have a good time, so probably all the guys were good. I even understood some of Davison's jokes :-) But of course the best moments of the first half were the pieces played by Wakeman. He did a good version of "Nursery rhyme concerto", only I think the joke on Les Dawson got lost on much of the audience, seems like a number of people took the reference seriously. Next his rendition of "Eleanor Rigby" was one of the best I've ever heard him play. Powerful and soulfull. And at the end of the first half of the show, "Death to all the boys", played by Alistair Craig and Wakeman, was a magic moment. I just hope it was recorded and will be released officially some time.
And then after the break, Wakeman came back on stage to play "Morning has broken", with the usual anecdote about how he never got paid or credited for playing on the Cat Srevens version. Then three solo pieces by Steve Howe, who didn't seem in the best shape (he was better for the rest of the show). He noticeably flubbed on the chord changes on both "In the course of the day" and "Second initial". But he was OK for the Yes set.
They played an exetended version of the usual acoustic set. Bonuses were "Nine voices" (unexpected, they rehaearsed it just once in the afternoon without Squire, who was late as usual and came in through the audience entrance just 20 minutes before the show) and the acoustic version of "South side of the sky", based on THE ULTIMATE YES version, but including the full piano middle section. They all seemed to enjoy the event and the few goofs here and there counted for nothing. The only really noticeable was a collective trainweck on the opening section of "Long distance runaround", of all places ;-) But, as Rick says on the YES ACOUSTIC DVD, they've been playing it only for 34 years, so......
All in all, a really enjoyable evening.
Could you believe it? Some people in the audience didn't realise this was a one off acoustic show for charity. Helen House is a superb organisation that do wonderful work. I'm really pleased Yes, and Rick in particular, have associated themselves with it. I'd like to know how much they raised. The show began with 90 minutes of comedy, a few Wakeman solo tracks (Nursery Rhyme Concerto & Eleanor Rigby). The first half ended with a moving duet between Rick and a young lad from the hospice, who had featured on Wakeman's BBC documentary "Jesus Who?". The second half began with Wakeman doing Morning Has Broken. A three track set by Steve: In The Course Of The Day, Second Initial & Clap. Then Yes. I'd seen the NEC show in Birmingham, the full set was amazing musically but let down by poor sound in places. No such problems here. This was the acoustic set as played in Birmingham, including Squire's introduction to Roundabout, plus Nine Voices, South Side Of The Sky and an encore of I've Seen All Good People. Both South Side and All Good People were fuller versions than on Yes Acoustic, South Side worked particularly well. I knew it was a charity show and totally acoustic so I had a good idea what to expect, but why not do Tiger Rag, From The Balcony, Holy Lamb, Leaves Of Green, A Venture, Yesterday And Today? Just dreaming. Another amazing show and in such a good cause.
Having been to the Wembley and Birmingham gigs I'd been wanting to get to one of the 3 other gigs in July. When Kettering was cancelled and Oxford announced I opted for this one as it was the nearest and in a small theatre to boot. After reading about the chopped down show I'm glad I didn't bother going all the way to Powerham Castle. (Yes are obviously now playing the set that they will play back in the States with Dream Theater in support...?)
Well it was certainly a memorable and unique night in Yes history that's for sure. My heart sank on finding out that Yes would not be on stage until 9.15, meanwhile there would lots of support acts to keep us entertained.
We certainly were very well entertained by some excellent comedians including Steve Rawlings, Roger De Courcey (and Nookie bear!) plus Jim Davidson.
Then after a few solo pieces from Rick and Steve Yes finally took to the stage with the acoustic set from the arena shows with a couple of additions. Undoubtedly the highlight for me was 'South Side Of The Sky'with Rick's exquisite piano ending - truly outstanding. Also the disabled boy in the wheelchair who sang and played his song with Rick joining him on piano - very beautiful and moving.
My point is though that I paid £30 to see Yes - my favourite band. Yeah I know it was for charity, but would it have been so difficult for them to play a longer set ? This was billed as a Yes concert after all. We got 1.5 hours of comedy and about 1 hour 20 minutes of Yes - ok if you count Rick & Steve's solo parts maybe you get the Yes set up somewhere nearer the 2 hour mark...but not quite.
Still, it was a good night out, but not quite the one I expected.
John from Leeds
Bugger. Have two tickets for Oxford show - stalls, sixth row - but can't make it due to last minute family problems. Anyone want them?? You would need to pick them up from my home address so needs to be someone able to pass through Leeds. Not expecting full price for them but some compensation would be nice. Email me at email@example.com if interested.