Wow! My first Yes experience. I mean wow! Steve Howe! Just simply unbelievable! And Benoit David is cute. Maybe it's just because he's up there between Steve Howe and Chris Squire, not that they aren't cute; it's just that they look like they've been touring a while.
This was my first Yes show and it was a blast. I was awestruck and in a state of shock. Pure musical genius. These guys kicked ass !
Thanks Jeff :)
I have a few random thoughts to share about this show. I drove 5 hours with my buddies Shamik and Freddie. When we were about 30 minutes away from Williamsport, I was like "where the heck are we"? But the theatre was old and had lots of character, a really nice place to kick back and see Yes. When we were going through the doors, we heard there was going to be a warm-up band, and I was disappointed. I didn't drive 5 hours to hear some local yokels. But the band came on (I think the main guy was Sean Farley or something close to that) and they were very good. I was entertained for the short time they played. Very talented guitarist, nice voice. The bass player was tight. They were just really good. I ended up being very happy to have heard them. Then Shamik and I went to the restroom during the break. There was LOTS of alcohol consumption so there was a line to get in the Mens room. I'm used to seeing that for the ladies, but I can't remember the last time I had to wait to use the men's room. Anyway, this guy who was totally inebriated strikes up a conversation with us while we're in line. Suddenly, he is pissed at Shamik because he thought Shamik was being disrespectful to Jon Anderson simply because Shamik said the band was going to do some songs that Jon would never let them do (like from Drama). This is something Chris had said when they announced the tour. It turns out this is the guy who jumped the stage at the end of Roundabout and went up to the band as they were taking bows. He was escorted out by the roadies. There's always one at every concert. At least he wasn't as bad as the guy that threw up on my shoes when I saw Dylan a few years ago. The concert rocked! I was very glad I went. Mr. David did an incredible job filling in for Anderson, although I know the words to Parallels better than he does. You could close your eyes at times and think it sounded just like Jon Anderson. The biggest difference was that this guy seems humble. Imagine that. The whole band was great, although there were times that Oliver Wakemen faultered. Chris Squire was incredible, especially on Heart of the Sunrise, which was one of the highlights. But the night belonged to Steve Howe. I saw him on the Tormato tour and the Drama tour, and I can say without reservation he was as good or even better on this tour, nearly 30 years later, than either of those. He does things on the guitar that are illegal in most states. It is something you have to see and hear to know what I'm talking about. Highlights for me: Heart of the Sunrise (a showcase for everyone in the band, esp Chris) And You and I (just because it's And You and I; Benoit was great) Parallels (it was funny watching Chris and Benoit singing different lyrics from each other. I think Chris was the one who actually messed this up some, even though he wrote the song) Tempus Fugit (can Steve Howe really play that fast?) Machine Messiah- this is POWERFUL live, and Steve nailed it. Starship Trouper- simply awesome in every respect. It was cool watching the interaction of Steve and Chris with Benoit David. You could tell this guy was living a dream, and there was a paternal interaction between him and Chris. It was really cool. Those of you not seeing the band because Jon isn't with them are missing it. Yes is bigger than Jon Anderson. Go see them; you'll be glad you did.
Oh, and by the way, LDR/The Fish weren't performed at this show.
Saturday, November 8th, 2008 is definitely one day I will never forget. After all these years of being a fan, I finally got to see Yes play, albeit without Jon. The crowd at the Community Arts Center in downtown Williamsport was very enthusiastic, although the place wasn't sold out. There were at least over 2000 people there (the venue seats 2500), but everyone seemed to be happy.
The setlist was as follows: Firebird Suite Siberian Khatru I've Seen All Good People Heart of the Sunrise Tempus Fugit Onward Close to the Edge Parallels And You And I Machine Messiah Soon Starship Trooper encore: Roundabout
Now, the show was supposed to begin at 7:30pm, but there was an opening act, a local singer/guitarist named Sean Farley and 3 other guys who were playing with him. He's a great singer and guitarist you should all check out. He plays in various bands. They were playing kind of quazi-jazz/blues, very melodic and mellow. They performed 6 songs, one of which was a great cover of The Band's "The Weight." After their set was done, we had about a 45/50-minute wait. I don't know what was going on, if it something backstage, some techincal stuff, who knows? We all were sitting there, screaming every now and again, chanting "Yes, Yes, Yes" and just getting a little impatient. After all that, finally 9:00pm rolls around and we finally hear the opening notes of the "Firebird Suite" and we all start roaring! The stage looked so awesome. I don't know if they're supposed to be clouds or whatever, but I loved what I saw. The 5 guys came out and went right into Siberian Khatru and then we were finally on our way with the show.
Throughout the night every seemed to be doing well. There were some vocal flubs by Benoit on "Parallels" and "Machine Messiah," but nothing that would take away from the whole performance. I was a little shocked to see "I've Seen All Good People" so early in the set, as I figure they would've left that for the end, but I didn't care, and nobody else did either. I was very relieved to hear some DRAMA music. The overall performances of "Tempus Fugit" and "Machine Messiah" were really great with Oliver Wakeman using a vocoder on the former as Geoff Downes did originally. I was a little saddened by the short set list, but I was still very happy with what they played. I was still satisfied.
One thing that really shocked me throughout the whole night was Steve. He was on fire!!! He was really ripping it up onstage, moving, jumping, dancing around, and he was all smiles most of the night. He played so fierce and with such brilliance, you'd swear to God it the '70's again, I kid you not! I was also happy to see Chris come over to my side of theater (I was sitting in the orchestra section off to the left) during the Wurm section of "Starship Trooper." He was smiling the whole night and rapped with the audience a little bit, as did Steve. Oliver was wonderful as well, although he could've been mixed just a little louder. Benoit was in fine voice throughout the majority of the night. There a few mistakes, but it's still just the beginning of the tour, but I didn't care, I still gave him a chance. He really impressed me, especially on "Soon," where he sounded exactly like Jon on the original recording. There were so many times when he sung that you closed your eyes, you'd swear Jon was there singing. Alan White was playing very well, as usual, but for me the main star of the show was definitely Steve. I don't know if he drank a bunch of Red Bulls before the show or what, but wow!!! Simply fucking amazing!!! I walked away a very happy fan. It was a greeat night, one I will never, ever, ever forget for the rest of my life.
Oh yeah, and I have a picture of that guy who got up on stage at the end as well, although it's just the back of him.
First off, the show was delayed by about an hour and a half. Was supposed to start at 7:30, but wasn't til around 9:00 that Firebird finally began to play. From what I've heard, a band member or two was delayed getting to the venue. In the meantime we were treated to an opening act. I'm not sure if they were a last minute deal or if they would have performed had there not been a delay. By the time they finished their set, which seemed like an eternity (no disrespect intended), the audience in general was getting quite restless. Then we had to endure another half hour or so of waiting.
Due to the delay, we ended up getting an abridged setlist. No "Astral Traveller," no "Owner," no new song...no clowns! Still an excellent show!
Benoit David: Not Jon Anderson, obviously. But he did very well for the most part. He did start to lose it a bit on "Parallels," with Chris mouthing the lyrics to him in order to keep him on track. Also a few missed starts in "Machine Messiah". Perhaps he should not play the acoustic guitar on that piece as it seemed to throw him off. That said, he really did shine on "Onward" and pretty much every other song. You just can't go into it thinking that its going to be the same as it is having Jon there.
Oliver Wakeman: To me, he was the weakest link in the chain. At times I found myself missing Rick (or any other capable keyboardist) more than Jon. His choice of sounds were terrible - straight organ for the harpsichord in "Siberian Khatru". His solos were weak for the most part and he was continually needing to adjust his volume. Also missing many cues, which is understandable as it was only the fourth show. Tom Brislin and Igor could play circles around this guy. Hopefully he gets better as the tour goes on. But I do respect the guy for taking this on and I'm not saying he is a bad keyboardist. I'm sure these are not easy songs to play, after all!
Chris Squire: Seems to have gained a bit of weight in the last couple years! Not quite as mobile as he has been in the past, but still just as awesome as ever. I always forget just how loud and thunderous his bass playing is when you actually see it live! Was really playing to the crowd at the end of "Starship Trooper". Had to lean to the side to see him most of the time since the tallest guy in the theater had to be sitting in the row in front of me, blocking my view!
Alan White: What can I say...he's Alan White! Strong and steady as ever.
Steve Howe: I saved the best for last. Its like he was rejuvenated! He was all over the place and completely on fire! I've never seen him like this before except for on video. Every time I've seen them live, he has always been very reserved and just focused on his playing, occasionally cutting loose for a solo or something. But he made it clear very early on that this show would be much different! He took center stage a number of times, to roaring applause, actually seeming to taunt us with his little kicks and jack rabbit jumps! I've never seen someone in their sixties jump around like that! He completely made the show for me. I don't know if he's been this lively at every show or if he was making up for the shortened set, but whatever it was, I loved every second of it! Best, most inspired opening solo in "Close to the Edge" since the ABWH tour!
The Audience: I really thought this was going to be an obnoxious bunch at first. Lots of people already plastered before the show and a long delay for a few more drinks. I was sure they were going to be a bunch of "quiet part screamers" and "sing alongers". But I was wrong. Great audience. Very small, but great.
Recording: The last time I was at a concert was when Yes played State College in 2002. It is amazing how much technology has advanced since then! Practically half the audience was filming this show, including myself! The fact that security was pretty much nonexistent definitely helped. I mean people were *blatantly* taping. At the end of "Starship Trooper", a group of people rushed the stage with cameras rolling...and Chris just hammed it up for them. It was great. Unfortunately all I had was my cell phone, which I was having issues with all night. Managed to get a few short clips, but no full songs. Oh well, with the amount of people taping, surely there will be a few videos floating around with better quality than I can get with a cell phone. Had I known security would be so lacking, I would have brought a damn camcorder and tripod!
The Stage Jumper: After "Roundabout", some dude jumped up on stage and was quickly scooped up and taken away. Just thought I'd mention that since nobody else did.
Conclusion: The band was in great form overall. A little rusty in parts, but again, it is still early in the tour. Was a little saddened by the short set, but it was still excellent. Felt that I got more than my money's worth! Would definitely go see this lineup again, but hopefully Jon will be back next time they come around my way.
The show was crystal clear from where I sat second row balcony. It was the best sounding Yes concert I was ever at, I have been to 11 starting in 1974. There were a few sticky moments where the band pulled apart but with a couple more shows under their belt that should clear up. Howe was flawless. Squire was in control. Oliver Wakeman fair but a little lack luster. Benoit David does a good job over all filling in, there were some good vocal harmonies during the night but I totally miss Jon Andersons ambience , soul, sound. The absence of Jon does make a differance. White stiff but hanging in there. Over all a QUALITY performance. I was very happy with the setlist although sadly shortend. CTTE was VERY GOOD. The Drama tracks were nice. Onward good. Parallels did not come across I thought the weakest song of the night. A few other times for example AYAI where Howe seemed to rush or cut short guitar intos or endings, perhaps do to a time restraint Sorry not trying to be picky, just an overview of the night. I love Yes, they are my favorite band of all time. Thank You for coming to Williamsport 20 miles from my home.
Set list: Firebird Suite Siberian Khatru I've Seen All Good People Heart of the Sunrise Tempus Fugit Onward Close to the Edge Parallels And You And I Machine Messiah Soon Starship Trooper Roundabout
The show was terrific! Benoit David was outstanding except when he struggled with the lyrics to Parallels. He sounds very much like Jon, he harmonizes with Squire exceptionally well, and he's great to watch and listen to in his own right. Sound and lights were very, very good. Machine Messiah was the highlight for me. The show was supposed to begin at 7:30. A warm up band started at 7:45 and played about 35 minutes. Yes did not start until almost 9:00 and I suspect they hit a curfew, which is why we got an abbreviated setlist compared to previous shows. Also, the theater was less than half full, so a small but enthusiastic crowd.
This was my 27th Yes show dating back to 1977. Jon was surely missed, and yet everything felt right and sounded right. To paraphrase the Who, it was kind of like a new Yes, same as the old Yes. Almost.