33 years, 10 months and 2 days ago
Saturday, July 29, 1989
Mud Island Amphitheatre
JON ANDERSON CAME OUT AND SAID HE HAD A TICKLE IN HIS THROAT AND THIS WAS THE BANDS TRUE WARM UP FOR THE TOUR. TIME AND WORD HAD JON THEN STEVE AND THEN CHRIS COME OUT SEPARATELY FOR PARTS OF THE SONG, A DIFFERENT APPROACH. MUD ISLAND WAS AN OPEN AIR VENUE AND IN THE DISTANCE THERE THUNDER AND LIGHTNING IN THE BACKGROUND WHICH ENHANCED THE SHOW. IT LIKE THE GREAT SPIRIT WAS ENJOYING THE SHOW TOO. THE LAST SONG WAS A HARDY ROUNDABOUT AS EVERYONE WHO LEFT CLAPPED THE NIGHT AWAY.
THEN ON TO PEABODY FOR LATE NIGHT EYE OPENER AND BACK TO GERMANTOWN AND A BEER A MORE VINYL IN AN UPSCALE HOME. LONG WAY FROM PHILLY.
HOWEVER, THE BAND DID NOT RETURN TO MEMPHIS FOR THE REUNION TOUR, HAD TO FLY HOME TO PHILLY TO SEE THE SHOW THERE.
The other reviewers tend to overlook one thing about this concert, or perhaps they all had better seats than I. About 20 percent of those at the concert were young fans that expected 90215 and Big Generator songs and were very disappointed. After five or six songs, they got up and left leaving many empty seats.
In 1989 or was it 1990 that ABWH toured we journeyed to Memphis to see the first concert in the tour. Staying at our cheap hotel I started calling the nice hotels in town to locate them. Figuring that ABW and H might be registered under aliases I asked for Tony Levin's room. Found them at the Radisson if memory serves me. Off to the Radisson! Couple hours before the concert as we set in the lobby, incidentally a beautiful white piano used in the Jerry Lee Lewis movie starring Dennis Quad is in there, down the glass elevator, descending into the centre of the earth,er I mean lobby, comes Rick Wakeman! He left the lobby and we followed. He was standing on the front and we asked for his autograph and made small talk. After about 10 minutes he was becoming concerned that his limo was not showing up. So, we offered him a ride. He asked about the concert being on Mudd Island if we could actually get him out on the island. Sadly we had to reply that we would have to park on the "mainland" and ride the tram over. He pondered this and decided against going with us. I seriously believe he was considering hitching a ride with us. Nice guy.
ANDERSON, BRUFORD, WAKEMAN, HOWE
AN EVENING OF YES MUSIC, +
MUD ISLAND AMPHITHEATRE, Memphis, TN, USA
SATURDAY, JULY 29TH, 1989 ~8PM
This was an historic concert for myself and other fans, for the members of ABWH, and for the annals of Yes history. It was the first Yes concert I ever attended (can there be ANY debate that ABWH was indeed Yes?!). The same great circumstance applied for my friends as well. As luck would have it, we couldn't have chosen a better first live Yes show. But the special atmosphere and nature of this show was not reserved for the first-timers only. Many other true fans were there and in a state of euphoria. The parking lot for the island recreation area was filled with the cars of Yes fans, marked with Yes bumper stickers and license plates. Some fans had travelled from the East coast! And of course, the Yes shirts from previous tours, many with beautiful Roger Dean art, were abundant in the over-capacity crowd. Some serious die-hards had homemade t-shirts proclaiming captions with "Fist of Fire" or "Order of the Universe" 'illustrated' on them.
This would be Messrs.. Anderson, Bruford, Wakeman, and Howe's FIRST PUBLIC PERFORMANCE TOGETHER SINCE THE _FRAGILE_ DAYS. The significance of this event wasn't lost on the concert-goers. The show had been sold out for weeks. The crowd was filled with people of most age groups, and diversity. But practically all seemed to be knowledgeable Yes fans. Some people without tickets were in boats on the Mississippi off the island just so they could hear some of this concert. The small outdoor amphitheater (with beautiful views of the city and bridge over the Mississippi, and nice weather in the middle of the summer by the cool river) provided the perfect setting for this 3-hour debut show of the tour.
The studio album had been released in June, I believe, and my best friend and I had driven 45 minutes each way to pick it up the day it was released. In fact, I bought it on both cd AND CASSETTE so we could listen to it in the car on the way back! :-) Almost at the instant we put in the cassette, already hopeful because of its great artwork, we heard "Themes" begin, and knew that Yes was back! Of course, we loved the album. We saw the GREAT "Brother of Mine" video on MTV, listened to it on the radio (it got rather heavy airplay here :-) and were overjoyed to hear about the upcoming first show in Memphis! We couldn't figure out WHY Memphis was chosen, but were obviously pleased (being around 3 hours from our hometown). We bought tickets by credit card over the phone ASAP, and got decent but not the best seats. Our seats were towards the back of the seated amphitheater on the left side (stage right), Steve Howe's side of the stage. This concert would even surpass the album, our expectations, our dreams...
We arrived early enough to check out the surprising Martyn Dean stage layout, gaze at the instruments set up, and pore over our just purchased programs. It all looked so cool.
Now remember, being the first show of a tour by a group of musicians who hadn't performed together in say 16 or 17 years, we had little idea what to expect. So imagine the shock of having Jon Anderson enter the way he did, singing "Time and a Word"! Frankly, I didn't even recognize it at first. My best friend did and shushed us all into silence. My God, Jon's voice was so clear, high, angelic... DEAD ON. The solos continued in a blur. Steve Howe 'snuck in' some of THE ANCIENT on acoustic, and it was beyond words. Wakeman was on the other side of the stage, so we couldn't see his amazingly fast keyboard work... but we could hear it! The crowd roared their approval. "Long Distance Runaround" was a neat surprise. Highlights of the first set included "Birthright" (with a great mood and atmosphere) and "And You and I." AYAI was another crowd favorite and was heaven to finally hear live!
Many in the crowd sang along as they swayed to and fro. 'So beautiful,' as Jon would say. As the band settled in and got comfortable with the first show jitters or kinks or whatever, they really started to enjoy themselves! They were smiling and nodding at us and each other. They really got into it and were acknowledging it. EVERYONE there began to realize just how special this moment in YES history was.
Then came the intermission - time to take a breather and quickly begin to soak in what had just happened! Of course, the first show had a few problems; mainly, in the sound and amplifiers/speakers. They had these special speakers in the back of the amphitheater and were obviously trying some type of experimental quad. type sound mixing/phasing/rotating or something. Well, it didn't work. Speakers would go in and out, and a back one would get stuck on one predominant sound, like one electronic drum. This was annoying. But, besides this, there was little if anything flawed with the performance. Keyboards might have been mixed too high, but I personally like it like that! :-)
The opening of the second set after intermission was the ultimate Yes experience --> a full "Close to the Edge," with dry ice and everything! As this is my favorite song on my favorite album, I was in nirvana! Looking back on the concert, I'd also have to say it remains a highlight and was tastefully and powerfully done by ABWH. It was also supposedly the first live performance ever of "CTTE" with Bruford, and it didn't disappoint. Up until this point, there had been an equal, but uncredited in the name ABWH, member performing: Tony Levin. I truly pity those who only got to see or hear the tour with Jeff Berlin doing the bass duties. I had no idea what we were in store for bass-wise that night in Memphis. To say Levin exceeded expectations would be a gross understatement! He played the Squire parts accurately, powerfully, and tastefully. But he also did it with his unique style that, dare I say it, actually added to the performances. From his cool stage poses, presence, and playing to his sometimes using those drum sticks attached to his fingers to hit/slap the drum strings and effect Chris Squire power and speed, TONY LEVIN WAS AMAZING. By "Heart of the Sunrise," he was doing SUCH an appropriate and, at the same time, fresh job that the show was in danger of becoming captured by him! (I'm not kidding!). Luckily, he had enough restraint to stop this from happening. While I love all Chris Squire's work, I didn't miss him at this concert or in ABWH (except for his vocals). Tony Levin should have been made an official member of this band imho. His contributions were significant.
The wonderful evening would not end! (in a good way!). "Brother of Mine" is now a Yes classic as far as I'm concerned (*Will we EVER again hear any ABWH tunes live?!). "Order of the Universe" was fun. And what would a Yes concert be without "Roundabout" and "Starship Trooper"? BTW, the background musicians were, throughout the show, great and did not intrude on the experience.
This concert approached the epic. My adrenaline was rushing for it, so perhaps I wasn't the best judge of its quality. After all, it WAS the first show of a tour. But I remember it to have been a musical 'tour de force'. It is something I don't know if I'll ever quite recover from, and I hope I never do! :-) To this day, I have no idea why they chose to open their tour and play what some would argue as the first 'true ' Yes concert in ~ 9 years, in Memphis, Tennessee. But I'm sure glad they did! I also know from listening to a subsequent 'Rockline' radio program with ABWH that Jon Anderson said the band considered this concert a very special event in the history of Yes. It was a great kickoff event for a successful tour. Its significance in the history of Yes lies in it being a major, historic event, and in the quality of and throughout the expansive show itself. Thanks, Yes!
I was very lucky to see ABWH on their first ever performance in Memphis, on July 29, 1989, and for what I can tell from the video, there's a few things they dropped from the set after that show. When I saw Steve's solo, Jon was on stage for the performance, and they actually did part of the acoustic bit from "The Ancient" ("Does the lamb cry out before we shoot it dead?"). It was very exciting for me, since it's the only time I've seen even part of _Tales_ (my favourite album). Also, they performed "Quartet" of the album. Both were really good. Anyway, does anyone know if this was the only show they played those songs for?