My experience at the Yes/Asia show at Fantasy Springs in Indio, California was nothing short of extra-ordinary! This was an evening of vast scope in the classic progressive rock world. With a quick perspective on the writer, yours truly, I'm guitarist and band leader for Southern California's own Roundabout - The American Yes Tribute.
It's widely known that Yes has always been the musician's music group, and Asia, the super group of the 80's. The vey mention of their collective members names is sure to ignite passionate conversation among true musicians to this day. This, even moreso, regardless of one's level of musicianship, was a day to just stop, listen, watch, and learn!
From the opening chords tightly mixed while played by Asia, with video support on two projection screens, you knew it was going to be a rare night. Asia jumped from songs off their recent album to classic big hits, like Heat of The Moment, and spotlighted the players individually from Carl Palmer's singularly incredible drum soloing, to songs from King Crimson, ElP, and even the Buggles! Can you guess which ones? Doesn't matter! What you got was a huge cross-section of the best of classic progressive rock from the masters themsleves!
A 30-minute intermission split the two sets, so after a drink and meeting up with friends in other sections, we returned to our seats and the Firebird Suite began, ushering in the start of several weeks of sets from the group who defined progressive rock music. Man, I wish I was a better writer, with a greater command of my mother tongue. I find it hard calling Yes just progressive, because the music they've created over four decades is more than any one thing. To me it's like saying the Beatles were a rock group. Insufficient.
Ok so as a guitarist, I'll talk a little about Steve first. No solo time in the Asia set, so he takes his spotlight with the Yes set. New guitars! New licks! New energy! I was a kid again! What's different about Steve this tour? I'm not the first person to ask, and I don't know him well enough to say, but I like it! Keep it up, Mr. Howe!
Benoit was spot on his pitch throughout the performance, and though we all miss the voice of Jon Anderson, it still felt very emotional. Oliver played very well with great care, and I especially enjoyed his soloing in Starship Trooper. Chris plays this stuff so effortlessly, and the vocals, oh, the vocals! "Machine Messiah" was so well done! The bass solo in "Heart of The Sunrise" was really groovy! All of that on top of Alan White's solid drum performance was the Yes I've been waiting for these past five years, and in some ways even longer!
If you're reading this and thinking of buying tickets to a show, stop reading and click some links! If you already have tickets, you probably understand that we just need this kind of balance in our lives - the kind that comes from a belief that great music is still being made! We have to keep this going, and when we support it, we are. I guess that's why I try my best to play it too. What a great start! See you in Anaheim and Hollywood!
My experience was AWESOME! What i know of the show, well, i can't give you a formal set list. But let me first say that ASIA was also AWESOME and very together. Give them some love when you see them play! Never seen Carl Palmer before and man, can that guy drum! AWESOME solo in their set!
Steve seemed extremely relaxed and HAPPY to be onstage. I have seen more shows than i can count, and last night Steve was, well, i've never seen Steve so animated and interacting w/the audience, dancing back & forth, laughing, just giving us a SHOW!!!!!!! Mr. Howe really cemented in my heart how much he and YES mean to me.
Benoit - for some reason Steve calls him Finbar, which is an Irish name, so i'm puzzled by that. I am a Jon lover too, I love love love that man, forever and always, so please don't be upset about me saying that, well, i liked Finbar! A lot! He hits every note in every song! Going to the high notes Jon doesn't get to any more. Benoit has a beautiful, natural vibretto that starts as soon as he hits a note, but he has control of that. I would LOOOOVE to hear him sing something where he could use that natural voice of his. (Think church hymm.) He and Chris harmonized very well together. There was 1 obvious mistake when both Chris and Benoit were singing the lower (?) part and Chris goes "high" and Fin went up to the high part. (Don't remember what song, sorry, bad memory. Maybe it was Owner?)
I didn't see Chris much cause he was waaaay on the other side and Steve was so totally engaging us with his performance that i could barely take my eyes off him! (Plus, he was right in front of me.)
Alan was, of course, perfection! :) He had a GREAT solo! Wait till you see it! During the show when i looked over at Oliver, he seemed just not really into it. At the after show, he confessed that he was still suffering jet lag! (jet lag sucks!)That explained why he looked the way he did. At the afterhow he was as gracious, friendly, very nice to everyone, stayed late, talked to everyone, posed for pics, etc. Beautiful spirit & soul, quite lovely. Hopefully, he'll be over that soon and will get into the swing of the tour and the fans and give us a smile every now and then! :)
Fan since 73....very good show, but a great show made by steve howe and chris squire....I have not since yessongs seen steve so animated on the stage....What a pleasure to so him so alive, and mixing up his guitar run...Chris Squire was also, just so into the show and his bass runs were so loud and right on....the video back ground was great, light show best in years, benoit was old jon, Ok there is only one Jon, but Benoit was spot on and Alan was good as was Oliver...Do not expect Rick Wakeman though, unless you close your eyes...Oliver is not one to show any emotion on stage, and that's all right....the set was great, except please replace owner, with anything else...ctte was missed, but hots was great......now on to asia, another great show,,spot on.....Geoff was awesome, would have liked him to be doing double duty in olivers place, John looked great, and sounded awesome.....Steve Howe do you do it....blessed hands....carl palmer, what can be said, still one of the top drummers of all time, do not compare to the current alan white, it is not fair.......wow....so glad to get to go....thank you asia and yes so much, now I am going to have to go to two more shows at least on this great tour.
I missed Yes on their Eastern swing last year waiting for them to come out West - then, as you probably know, due to Chris' ailment they had to cancel the Western leg of that tour. Thankfully, they decided to open this new tour (with Asia) less than 10 miles from my home. The sets for both groups were shortened, but you still got almost an hour of Asia and two of Yes. For an opening night, Yes truly shined, and Steve used the Asia set as his own personal warm up - by the Yes set he was absolutely smoking - as Chris said, Steve is now "the hardest working man in rock and roll!" I was lucky enough to get a pair of tribal seats given to me and we sat/stood right in front of Chris - and he wailed perhaps even greater than usual, the proud papa!! Congrats Chris! Benoit more than held up his end of the performance - of course he is not Jon, he did not write the music - but can this young man sing - WOW! Oliver is terrific, if somewhat businesslike, and Alan...is Alan, the original "Astral Traveller". By the way, "Astral Traveller" was an extremely interesting choice for this group to play, as only Chris actually played on that album! It just goes to show, as I have said so many times - with Yes it is all about the music! All in all, it was truly a night to remember. Looking forward to the LA, SD and PHX shows!!