Tuesday, September 14, 2004
18 years, 6 months and 12 days ago
I'm a child of the 90's and for many years of my short life I've considered Yes to be the absolute pinnacle of rock-and-roll. That being said I was very excited to be seeing them live for the first (and hopefully not the last) time. I was surprised at first that they didn't open with Siberian Khatru, but not disappointed. It was the first time I had ever heard "Sweet Dreams" and I thought it was incredible. Rick Wakeman did an excellent job, as well as Steve Howe. I heard a very wonderful rendition of "America" then "South Side of the Sky". "Yours is No Disgrace" followed suit. This is one of my favorite songs from The Yes Album and like most of their material, it's always better to hear live. I heard another new song during the acoustic part which I immediatly took a liking to, "Wondrous Stories". During the entire show I was hoping for "Close to the Edge" (as was a lot of the crowd) or "Ritual". Instead, we got a different epic song, "Awaken" to which they concluded the show. Naturally, the crowd wanted an encore, and Yes obliged with a classic "Starship Trooper"
I didn't notice until the end that there were far fewer people in the stands than the venue could hold. Too bad they charged so much, because the energy would have been even more explosive than it was. I definetly hope Yes revisits the Valley of the Sun, because I would hate to have only seen them once live.
(I also thoght Dream Theater did a great job. I hadn't heard them before, but they sounded great. Additional Kudos to them for the opening of Machine Messiah, it sounded great)
I certainly won't go into the details as left by the previous poster - great description of the night. I too was near the soundboard (back-right corner)... and was simply amazed by the quality of the sound.... they were right on. My personal fav wasn't played (Heart of the Sunrise), but was simply blown away by the sequence after the acoustic set, kicking off with "Of You and I"... I agree - that is an awesome tune that gets better every time I listen to it.
A couple nuances - towards the end (I can't remember what song), Jon stepped down into the audience - it seemed from prior intros that his wife was their, and son(?)... the crowd went ballistic. A very intimate venue - the stage is only about 18 inches higher than the venue floor. Also, I loved that a lady a few bodies over from me had bought a gross of the little "glow in the dark" bracelets and would keep throwing them forward into the audience. The event staff were going crazy trying to round them all up - don't they have a life?
I wouldn't agree with the crowd assessment - I was very surprised to see the number of people in the GA area (grass) that left after Dream Theater. I'd say the place was 1/2 full. The guy I was standing next to (we stood the entire show - found the sound to be *much* tighter, less muffled, when standing) commented that he almost didn't come because of the ticket price. I'd agree - after the Ticket-Masterbator surcharges, the cheapo seats were just under $50. If they had dropped the price by 1/2, then maybe they would have had a full venue (and enough energy to demand "Close to the Edge" ????).
IMHO, The Mesa Amphitheater is my favorite outdoor venue... yes, it was warm, but not too uncomfortable. I've seen King Crimson, GTR, and a few other bands there and each time have not been let down (except that this time they had 1/2 of the field fenced off for the "premiumn" priced seats). I was extremely happy where I was. And extremely happy to see Yes one more time...
No Roger Dean set. The music was great but after anticipating their highly talked about light show and not getting to see it was a huge letdown. If the venue was too small an appropriate venue should have been selected. Were we the only ones with this letdown. Music great lightshow dissapointing.
Tonight's show was very enjoyable. I expected the weather to be a lot hotter as I was told it has been lately here in Phoenix but the temperature was very comfortable. The small outdoor Amphitheatre made the ambience just a perfect setting for this show.
Dream Theater opened up with a respectable peformance. They played their usual hour long set and the crowd seemed to appreciate it. The thing I was most impressed with was the way the crowd seemed to be into the show and not your normal drunk off key sing alongs "like some of us have been used to" at some of the more recent Yes concerts.
The Amphitheatre was about two-thirds full which was really confortable as I chose a spot right by the soundboard (which is only 20 rows from the stage - which is where the sloping grass area starts) to hopefully get the maximum sound out of the concert. I wasn't disappointed. The sound was extraordinary. Not too loud, not too soft. Just perfect.
The people that sat next to me must have enjoyed the show also because neither couple on either side said a word (or if they did they were polite enough not to let it affect my experience) during the whole peformance unlike the Yes "Know It All" which one sat behind me at the Pond in Anaheim back in April. I remember him impressing his date by telling her about the blue custom guitar that Steve Howe had connected to his steel guitar stand that was made especially for him by Gibson and cost $20,000.00. This guitar of course is the Line 6 Variax 700 model which lists for around $1400.00.
After the lights went out and the first sounds of "Firebird Suite" started to sound the crowd stood up and remained standing for the first three numbers. The band started with "Going For The One." I was anticipating what would be next. This is one of the first times I've actually had to do this since the invention of the internet because Yes has finally decided to mix it up a bit on this tour. They followed with "Sweet Dreams" which Steve really ripped up the solo. Then "All Good People" which the crowd really seemed to rock to. Then everybody just sat down and kicked back and were treated to "America" and when Jon got to the part about the "We Boarded a Greyhound in Pittsburgh" he changed it to "Phoenix" which got the crowd howling. "South Side of the Sky" came next with the usual Wakeman/Howe trading riffs at the end of the song played as tight as ever. "Yours Is No Disgrace" was played with its usual grace with Steve playing his solo with a little faster picking than normal (I guess playing after John Petrucci it would inspire me to get that right hand smoking too!).
Then on with the Acoustic set with Steve playing "Clap" while the other members were getting their gear set into place. When all were in place they continued with "Long Distance Runaround" with Jon saying he originally wrote the song in Jamaica where the words were "Long Distance Runaround, Long Time Waiting to Get Some Ganga(sp?)" and they seemed to be having a great time. Next came "Wonderous Stories" and then some kidding with Alan about wearing a kilt and flashing Rick while Chris explained how he and Alan came up with the Acoustic version for "Roundabout" while sitting around in a Hotel in Japan. Alan suggested a good American (Jon chimed in with Phoenix) blues and when they got back to Los Angeles they asked Rick for a Blues Shuffle and after Chris heard it he said it was f@#$ing brilliant. "Owner of a Lonely Heart" followed with a smart decision by the band to let Rick play the solo (no offense to Steve) which Rick played great.
Then it was back to the original setup with "And You And I" which just gets better every time they play it. Next came "Awaken." This song has become the "unofficial" Yes Anthem and after watching it again for the umpteenth time I still agree it's Yes at their best (even though I really missed "Close To The Edge") which members of the audience were crying out for all night lon