What a spectacular show! I had seen Yes in '79, '84, and '91, and this was the only show that approached the larger-than-life quality of '79. Although I wouldn't give it the nod over that tour, I would say Loveland far exceeded my expectations and was much, much better that the shows I saw in '84 and '91. The Howe/Wakeman interaction at the end of "Southside" was stunning (and the moment the show took off to the the highest level). "And You and I" on this tour was truly something special (even better than '79)--an incredible goose bump raising moment, as was "Awaken" (Jon Anderson's vocals at the end were very moving). The arena was about half full, as other reviewers have noted, which means 3,000 some as my estimate. But this was typically what Yes was drawing on this tour. (They should have been playing smaller places at this time.) But what a great night--a rare show that rekindled the buzz of the great concerts from the seventies.
Revisiting this concert almost a year later, I'm surprised to see a different show than the one I attended that night. As noted in my earlier remarks, this was the second straight night of Yes in Colorado, and while I was excited to see the band twice this tour, I was bit worn out from the travel. I noted that the band also seemed tired from the obvious grind of having toured so much over the last several years.
Yet, a year later, revisiting this show again, I realize that I was mistaking my own fatigue for the band's. It's immediately apparent that they're tighter than the previous night's stormy, but compelling performance, and that's saying something. More importantly, they really are INTO IT. "Going for the One" suddenly sounds vibrant, whereas in the early shows of the first leg, it was sort of slow and lifeless. During "America," Jon adds his typical city name dropping "Boarding a greyhound to Loveland," but atypically adds a second, emphatic "to Loveland!" Followed by his foppishly astounding "Denver!" There was clearly something in Jon's green tea this magical night.
In Morrison, the opening strains of "South Side of the Sky" sounded ominous, as the rain poured down on the band and the crowd in legendary Red Rocks fashion. A night later in Loveland, my 9 year old son had thrown up in the bathroom during Dream Theater's set, upexpectedly car sick from the 60 mile drive to Loveland, so much of the set seemed strained to me, because of the strain I felt! Now, I see that several years of steady touring had brought my band to a level of competent, frequently inspired professionalism. These guys are good, and in their deepened maturity as musicians, they still can lock together and take it up a notch into greatness. Before they started playing it regularly in '02, "South Side" was only noteworthy to me as a song they never played live, nothing more - it wasn't a favorite. But, years of touring practice have turned this once obscure Yes piece (for me, anyway) into a classic - and, I think I prefer the current configuration's verison better than how it was recorded on "Fragile."
And, it was disappointing to see how empty the arena was - the video doesn't confirm what I saw, but, we sat at the top and had no one else nearby for what seemed like miles. Yet, watching the video, I can see that the band isn't fazed. Steve sounds much more confident tonight - perhaps that sounds strange, but, the night before, he was wracked with technical problems - and even soulful. Chris Squire sarcastically quips "For those of you who missed this story at Red Rocks last night..." (or something to that effect) when retelling his inspiration for the redone "Roundabout," then tells it again with whole-hammed relish.
Sometimes, Rick Wakeman doesn't feel as "apart" as the others - but, this could be because the others have been playing together steady now for upwards to 10 straight years. Anderson, Howe, Squire and White are the heart and soul of Yes - you can see and hear their dedication to it in every note. Wakeman mostly feels like the A-1 sauce - to paraphrase Bill Bruford. He's great, and I love him, and I hope that he doesn't leave, but, you can almost tell that he's wondering where to get off. YET, Wakeman is still too much of a showman to give anything less than 100% - I became a Yes fan during the Rabin era, so I never really got the Cult of Wakeman in the '70s - but, he's funny and charming in his stiff, jazzless (another Bruford paraphrase) British manner. It would be preferred, I think, by all, that Wakeman stick it out for the rest of the Yes days - I would love to see him grow into his rightful place as Yes Keyboardist over the course of a ten year span.
Which brings us to today. Revisiting the Loveland performance, I was surprised to discover it the superior Colorado Yes concert of 2004. The Red Rocks concert was the stereotypical Great Red Rocks Show - which is to say that as
steve was in fine form jons voice was perfect chris his bass was killer on starship and alan and rick wre the best too ive seen yes on tales relayer and a few other tours in tx. but ill never forget this one ill be thinking about it on my last days like jon said before awaken there is more to life than now love and peace everybody !!!!!!
this concert ill remember till the day i die
The show at the Bud. Events Center was the first time I have seen Yes in many years, although I did see them thrice between 1980 and 1987. I was thrilled to see them, and I found lots to admire in the current edition of Yes. It was Steve Howe's night, in my opinion.
I have to say my estimate is that the venue was over 50% full, with some people roaming around because there was space, but the band didn't let the attendance get to them. The sound was very good, and not too loud. Dream Theater was interesting and competent, but they try too hard, and preference technical ability over soul. Strange that their instrumental cover of Machine Messiah was the most engaging song in their set. Yes is that perfect marriage of instrumental prowess and soul, and showed it.
Howe was on from the begining, sounding good on GFTO, and his spicy solo in Sweet Dreams put the audience on track for the evening. SSOTS was a highlight for me, with some adventurous moments in the Howe/Wakeman trading solos at the end. When YIND thundered into motion, I knew there would be no Close To the Edge, which I admit I was hoping for. However, YIND rocked and at that point the crowd was pumped.
The acoustic set was fun, with especially LDR seeming to benefit from the acoustic arrangement, but at this show the audience seemed to lose some momentum after the rockin' start. AYAI always majestic, and sounded great. I thought Anderson's best moments were in Awaken, and it was a glorious closer. He's a spacey guy, but spiritual. I wonder if he's to thank for the "Peace" banners on each side of the stage--I do appreciate the presence of that thought in any gathering of people.
Starship Trooper is a great encore, and as usual I walked away feeling somewhat spent from the emotion of the show. I think Yes is playing to their core audience with the older material in heavy roation, and that is appropriate. Thank you to Yes for their long term dedication to some of their best music, and to their fans!
Going For The One Sweet Dreams Your Move/All Good People America South Side of the Sky Yours Is No Disgrace The Clap Long Distance Runaround Wonderous Stories Roundabout Owner Of A Lonely Heart And You And I Awaken
Encore: Starship Trooper
A few remarks:
I'm not sure, but, I'd guess that Yes will not be playing further two night stands in Colorado - at least not within 60 miles of one another. Last night's performance at the Budweiser Events Center was poorly attended, to say the least - I'd guess the venue was maybe 30% full, with the heaviest concentration in the first 15 rows or so.
But, the Roger Dean set was erected in all of it's blowup doll glory, and I have to say that it was quite spectacular, at least from our vantage point in the back of the arena. The band put on a solid performance, playing the same setlist as from the night before, with the notable exception of "Yours is No Disgrace" substituted for "Close to the Edge," and Jon's a cappella attempt to lead the band into "Time and a Word" at the outset of the acoustic section of the show. Steve made a halfhearted attempt to join in, though, in the wrong key, and the song was quickly forgotten.
Two nights in a row is tough as a fan - I can't imagine how a band of five players in their mid- to late-fifties manages all of this travelling and performing. I got to sleep in my own bed both nights, and my wife and I are exhausted! But, it was well worth it - though, admittedly, I'd like to add my name to the chorus of people calling for more setlist variation. Though, there was a change from one night to the next, I'm not sure that playing one song that has been nearly played to death is a great idea as an alternative for another song that has nearly been played to death. Even if it is two great songs, such as these.
Yes could certainly rotate a greater variety of numbers - even just from the list of songs that they've been playing for the last seven years. Why not a bit of "The Ladder," especially as that tour didn't make it to these parts? Or more of "Magnification?" Sure, it sold slowly, but, if the band is going to tour relentlessly, why not showcase more of the catalog? Even Phish's first album has now slipped passed the platinum mark after years of non-stop touring (not that I'm a fan) - I'm thinking that everybody's that's going to buy "Fragile" has pretty much bought it. But, I'm sure there's many fans that have that album that DON'T have "Ladder," "Magnification," or even (gulp) "Union."
I'd welcome more classic five renderings of the YesWest music as well - and, I think that that would be a welcome addition for many fans. My wife is an admitted Rabin fan - and I know SHE would like to hear more of that material. I enjoyed their spring '04 tour version of "Rhythm of Love" - that would've been a nice addition to tonight's show.
Overall, it was a fine performance, in a nice venue. I wish I could report that there were surprises, but, on the other hand, maybe that's why I continue to listen to this band all of these years later: it's comfortable, confident, and exactly what I expect.
And, maybe that's why the venue was only 30% full.