Yes - March 9th, 1998
live at Vredenburg, Utrecht, Holland
By J.J. de Haan
YESterday evening was a great night for me. Seven years ago (I was 16 at the time) I visited my first concert ever and it happened to be YES! Now, many concerts, but too few by YES, later, I had the chance too see
I immediately realized why the tickets were so extra-ordinary expensive: they used 3 busses and 3 trucks to take all their equipment! Steve apparently has to use 11 (!) guitars for one show.
Since it would take too many words to circumscribe every single song, I'll just comment on the event in general. I'll put the complete set list at the bottom of this review.
From the reviews I've read, the show was exactly the same as the night before, including Jon's remarks on visiting Holland by train and Igor loving Amsterdam, because of the drugs (is there any band that can come up with a more serious subject to talk about?). Only Steve's acoustic piece was different. He played two songs in the middle of his set I didn't recognize.
And now.... to the Pros and Cons of this concert....
- It was great to hear all these nostalgia-songs played again. They really know what their best stuff is (unlike Genesis/Marillion, etc,). Roundabout, Heart of Sunrise & And You And I were brilliant. The Revealing was great as well, especially since it's more exclusive than the others mentioned. The return of Wonderous Stories was a nice surprise.
- Steve Howe was really excellent. He improvises but still plays the right notes. His style is really unique. Maybe some of his solo's sound a bit 'messy' but that's part of the unexpected....it's pure spontaneity! It was great to see how he got his own private little show. He introduced his 'Dutch guitar', which sounded great.
- Chris Squire was...rocking! Much better than 7 years ago. He played very distinctive and The Fish was ...WOW... He even makes play one single (very low) note seem interesting. He really is The King... Tempus Fugit was a nice 'tongue in cheek'-part. The bass-lines in the Fragile songs all stand out (still!) and are a classic example of melodic and powerful prog-bassing.
- Jon's Voice (that capital is on purpose) was of outstanding quality. He hasn't lost any of his magic. This Voice is what makes Yes sound really different from any other band... The lyrics are still strange (not to use the word 'weird') but fit very well with the music. He creates a special atmosphere that combines with the music in a wonderful way. And, being at the age of 50, he didn't miss a single note!
- Igor made a great debut. He certainly is a great piano-player. Tonight he was right in the mix, unlike some reviews I read. The sounds he uses are closer to the originals, compared to some of Wakeman's 'experiments' on Keys to Ascension 1 & 2. I love to hear both Moog and Hammond in one song!
- They all seemed to enjoy themselves, and that's half of the performance! Jon shook some hands and made some jokes. Chris jumped around (Jon had to take his microphone standard away during The Fish) and Steve tried to fool the audience with unexpected 'licks'...
- Why play Rhythm of Love and Open Your Eyes ? Sorry, but I don't like these songs. You could see Steve was really bored during these. Seeing it played I know what I don't like about it: bass and guitars do sort of the same thing. It makes the sound loud but monotonous.
- The volume was in any case way to loud. I had to put tissues in my ears to avoid serious damage! I was looking at the people behind the mixing desk, they were using headphones all the time!! Use your ears to hear if it's right. It wasn't!
- Billy Sherwood. Sorry to say this, but his presence was pretty annoying. If you don't have anything to do, stay off that stage! If we only need him for Owner of a Lonely Heart, then leave that song out of the set. Simple as that.
- Alan White. Prototype of power-drumming. Loud, Louder, White.... No subtle rhythm changes. His solo was boring (except for the fact that Ritual was featured)...I don't like it, but he seems to form a nice pair with Squire..They really enjoy rocking together.
- Chris' outfit. Much has been said about the looks of this group. YES, we know Steve and Jon just escaped from a fairy-tale (be glad Rick wasn't there), but Chris' outfit... man, they have to put a PG-warning
on the tickets. He was wearing black pajama trousers! And Chris, even Michael Jackson doesn't wear white socks anymore.. ;-).
- Starship Trooper. Although this is one of my favorites, this version was over the top. Maybe it's because of the long history of this song as a set-closer but this version was too long and too loud. The essence of the last part was lost in the noise. I have a boot from 1978 (Quebec) which features a brilliant version, much improvisation and a rocking end. The only part where Igor made a mess was here! I don't mind a different keyboard-solo, since Rick was already different than Tony, and a return to the Hammond solo could be nice, but this one was out of place, out of tune and out of rhythm... A bit of a crappy ending.
All in all, this wasn't THE concert of the century, but I certainly enjoyed myself. The pros were more in number and importance than the cons, but the sound volume spoiled things a bit. Some set list changes would be nice (drop: Open Your Eyes, Rhythm of Love and America in favor of Mind Drive, Sound Chaser (or so) and maybe some other unexpected surprises from Tormato, Drama or Union)...
I hope I don't have to wait another 7 years for the next show, 'cause
it's really a special experience !
To conclude, I have to put up a question. In the past, Yes used to have 'extra' players downstage. Nowadays they use samples, I guess. Some of my friends (including my girlfriend) were even convinced Jon was play backing at some moments, although I'm personally not sure about this. But I spoke to several people who SAW he was late at some times. Did anyone see this, or am I just confused and was it Billy who did some of the higher bits without us noticing?
Rhythm of Love
Open Your Eyes
And You And I
Heart of the Sunrise
Steve's acoustic piece:
Mood for a Day
2 unknown songs
From The Balcony
Long Distance Runaround
The Fish - featuring an excerpt of Tempus Fugit
Alan White-solo - featuring an excerpt of The Ritual
Owner of a Lonely Heart
The Revealing Science of God
I've Seen All Good People