I came into this show fully prepared and properly medicated to handle any blunders and mistakes the band could have possibly thrown. Luckily Murphy's Law prevailed; it was an excellent show.
I missed Rick and Jon, but their counterparts did them proud; I'm sure Jon has respect for a singer who respects Jon's vocals and lyrics as much as Benoit does.
The performance: I did not notice any missteps at all. Here I was bracing myself for a possible train-wreck, and they pull off a perfectly synched show. The crowd was VERY respectful; they gave a standing ovation after every song. During those quiet and delicate moments of "Close to the Edge" and "And You and I", the crowd was silent; they appreciated what they saw. It was basically a jazz type audience, clapping after solos and restraining from any sing along which I was thankful for. ONE person whistled during Mood For a Day, and everybody made a "SHHHING" sound which Steve seemed to appreciate because there were no more interruptions after that. I think the band came into this show exhausted from the tour and a little tense, but were very eased by the atmosphere. Clearwater is not South Beach; it is a very easy-going/retired area, so it is right up their alley. Remember, they spent a week here tanning before the second leg of the 2002 tour. The only difference was they were hungover for that show (from alcohol and/or the sun); they meant business this time. Steve even said he wanted to treat us to both Mood for a Day and Clap as a reward of some sort for being the last "real" set of the tour played in a non-profit/sponsored/casino venue or something along those lines; he said the next show would be shorter than ours.
Siberian = as expected, lots of traded energy during climax
ISAGP = Fun
Tempus Fugit = very cool to hear, especially the vocoder stuff from Oliver
Onward = pretty song, Steve's arpeggios were smooth; many people don't know how hard it is to play that stuff.
Astral Traveler = AWESOME. It had that "Green Eyed Lady/Inna Gadda Da Vida" sound except it was amped up Yes style with a million times more flair.
Close to the Edge = HOT. This is the crowd appreciation I was talking about. When the song chilled out after part 1 all the way until the keyboard solo, the crowd was church quiet and the band was playing from the heavens. Oliver matched his dad on this song for sure.
Steve stuff = Precise as usual, what else can I say about him.
And You and I = Another one that connected well on a spiritual level with the band and audience.
Long Distance/Fish = very classic sounding. I loved how the bass solo was more structured as a piece rather than just the slightly sloppy Whitefish. Steve played a great complimentary part throughout Fish and beyond.
Aliens was a slow one but awesome; pretty good lyrically. Oliver was the musical lead on that one with the piano with minimal from other members besides Chris' vocals.
Machine Messiah = OMG that song is so epic. The level of dynamics, changes in theme, mood, tempo make it such a great song. They nailed it for sure.
Starship Trooper = Wurm was good as usual, but nothing epic. A fun song to square-dance to.
Owner = was fun because that was the first out of three times I have seen them play it, so it wasn't a DRAG for me to hear. I was glad to see Steve cook up EXTRA solo parts to it. I didn't know they used pre-recorded tapes for the intro sounds; that puzzled me a bit.
Roundabout = Lots of fun and not generic at all. The new guys gave it new life. I didn't see anybody complaining about hearing that song. (I know all of you deep down inside don't mind hearing it at every show.)
Thanks for giving us a FRESH sounding show. If this show was food, it would be a bowl of the lushest and ripest fruits from around the world with a glass of ice cold water from the cleanest springs. YES is the word.
I too agree that the show was excellent. It did seem strange without Jon, but the musicianship and sound were both outstanding. Listening back to the show now it clocked in at about 2:16. I thought the antics of Benoit were a little "flamboyant" though. Steve looked at him a few times and then immediately at the audience in a kind of, "Did you see that?" gesture.
All in all a good time.
Well Chief, you got it mostly right for the set list, except you left out "And You And I" after "the Clap", and "Aliens"(the Chris Squire song you did not know] after "the Fish". Also, "Machine Messiah" immediately preceded "Starship Trooper".
A terrific and great show overall. I did not notice any major miscues or technical problems at all. The sound quality was pretty good as well, but not perfect, even though Ruth Eckerd Hall is about as acoustically perfect a venue as you can find. I think the Clair Brothers Audio company is missed, but I can see why they don't have them on a small tour such as this.
Steve was about as good as I have ever seen him, very lively and animated at times, for Steve. Alan and Chris were a little more laid back than in the past, but spot on, especially Chris.
Kudos to Benoit David, who was more than fabulous in those huge shoes he had to fill. If you closed your eyes, you would not know it was not Jon most of the time. In fact, his range is in better shape than Jon's has been for awhile. He can really hit those high notes that Jon cannot do as well at anymore.
Oliver was pretty good as well, but some of the keyboard solos and fills seemed like slightly simplified versions, and some of the synth patches that were used could have been better; more authentic to the original sounds. But over all he was still very good.
Highlights in the set list for me were definitely the 2 songs from Drama, and Astral Traveler(what a rare treat that was!).
Any Yes fans on the fence about the show because of the absence of Jon, just go and enjoy. Hopefully the band can mend the rift that occurred because of this tour and the way it was handled. But if Jon never returns, I would look forward to this lineup again in the future, especially with Benoit on vocals. But we still miss Jon very very much.
This tour is very short, so hopefully there is another leg of it after the new year. To the band, please play Sound Chaser and Silent Wings of Freedom on some future shows.
Yes is very much in the present.
Chief Disciple of Poker
All in all, a pretty good show. I was 7th row center. They played for about 2 hours. It was worh the $70.
The "Kids" were alright in my opinion. Benoit David did not try and be Anderson. He seemed very relaxed and he has a strong youthful voice. Oliver Wakeman is very talented....dazzling on occassion, but certainly competant.
Howe was fantastic as always...White still has it on the drums and Squire....well It's Chris's band for sure. Chirs made sure that the bass and all the classic YES riffs were well represented.
The sound was very good. Ruth Eckard Hall is known as the Avery Fisher Hall of Clearwater. I told an old time usher there that YES was pretty good. His repsonse was "They Have to Be to Play Here"
The songs were well done and with care. I'm waiting for the set list to post, but here is what I remember. The crowd was very into it.
Open - Firebird Suite Siberian Khatru Your Move/All Good People Tempust Fugett Onward Astral Traveler (Alan White Drum Solo) Close to the Edge (EPIC Version) Mood for a Day/The Clapp (Steve Howe) Machine Messiah Long Distance Runaround / The Fish Starship Trooper (WELL DONE)
Owner of a Lonely Heart Roundabout (Full Version - They did not mail it in)
It was clearly a lot better than I expected. Squire sang a sonf I did not recognize...It was the only song that escaped me.
A funny footnote...I saw Alan White, Benoit, Chris Squire at the Atlanta Airport Friday night at the Sam Adams Bar. I gave them a thumbs up and told them I was going to this show. Benoit and Alan gave me a smile which was nice.