Yes, 6 April 1998
Vorst Nationaal, Brussels, Belgium
By Dirk Rombauts


Yes - Open Your Eyes Tour

 

The three of us, Kevin, Steven and myself, arrived at the concert hall around 19h00, and we were immediately disappointed in two ways: firstly, there were seats in front of the stage, and secondly, the first few rows had already been taken. With the help of a friendly couple who shifted themselves one seat aside, we managed to get three seats somewhere in the middle of the seventh row. As it turned out, they weren´t bad at all: we had an excellent view on the stage, the players and the lightshow.

Open Your Eyes Hidden Track
While the Open Your Eyes Hidden Track played, we looked around and spotted several Yes T-shirts, among them two Union T-shirts. There were also quite a few Genesis (they had given a concert a month earlier) and Pink Floyd T-shirts. The people right in front of us were talking about Marillion; in French, so we couldn´t really join the conversation. Despite a frantic search, we were unable to pick anybody with an Alan Parsons T-shirt.

Most people in the hall seemed to be around forty, and while there were younger people, even some children, we, aged 18, 19 and 19, were among the youngest in the hall. Another thing that got my attention was the number of women present: more than on a `normal´ concert, although they were still in the minority. In some cases, like the couple at my left, it was the husband who came to the concert and the wife who had to come along, in other cases, like the friendly couple at Kevin´s right, it was definitely the other way round.

Firebird Suite
At 20h05, the finale of the Firebird Suite began. People started to clap and shout, and as the lights in the hall gradually dimmed, the lightshow came to life. It had a beautiful ``warp´´ effect: a lot of little specks on the ```walls´´ of the stage, and they went from beneath to above, so it looked liked we were indeed travelling through space. During the soft parts, there was some noise on the tape, but during the loud parts, the sound was great. The group came on stage, Igor Khoroshev wearing a hat, and Jon Anderson gave the last part of the tape some extra power by playing along on the cymbals.

Siberian Khatru
Steve Howe launched into Siberian Khatru, followed by Alan White, Chris Squire and the other guys. To my relief, they didn´t just play the Keys To Ascension-version, but they changed here and there some little things. Steve was doing great, making weird faces as he was totally occupied with his playing. Jon Anderson, smiling all the way, sang like he always does, giving no hint of the problems with his voice he apparently did have. Chris Squire was the beast on stage, jumping and playing on one leg, and he would continue doing so during the whole concert. The lightshow made the experience complete, with some really psychedelic parts, especially during the ``Ta dodaada´´-section: every syllable got its own colour, changing at the very moment they were pronounced. The performance was rewarded with a warm applause.

Rhythm of Love
Next was Rhythm Of Love, the first of the two Trevor Rabin-era songs Yes would play. Billy Sherwood now had one of the few opportunities to show his talents, and he more or less did so. It´s my opinion though that Yes should either a) put away with the whole Trevor Rabin-baggage, or b) make clear to Steve Howe that he is a professional guitarist and thus shouldn´t moan about playing one or two songs that he didn´t write himself. I mean, Trevor and Steve aren´t rivals, they should complement each other; and anyway, Steve is capable enough to handle Trevor´s stuff. Whether Yes choose a) or b), they should put Billy back where he belongs: in the producer´s chair. Billy isn´t bad (at least I didn´t hear him playing a bum note :-)), but he just sort of doesn´t fit in. Yes is essentially a five-man group, and Billy makes six.

Two days after the concert I read in a paper that Rhythm Of Love lasted for nine minutes (I didn´t count it myself). One could think that pushing a four and a half minute song to the double of its length should be boring as hell, but it wasn´t, which says enough about the brilliance of Yes.

America
Next song was ``a beautiful song written by Paul Simon,´´ said Jon Anderson, but he didn´t recall the name, and the woman on Kevin´s left shouted ``America!´´ Jon gestured in her direction and said ``Oh yes, America.´´ Beautiful rendition of this song that isn´t really their own, but could be considered to be so. It just kept coming and coming, no single noted bored me, and in the end it turned out to have lasted for only ten minutes. It seemed longer.

Open Your Eyes 
The only song from the new album, but it wasn´t delivered as if it were less good than the others. Jon and Chris shared the lead vocal in this song that certainly has a great future on stage: should they be able to extend Open Your Eyes the way they did with Rhytm Of Love, the result would be a truly great piece. As for now, it is a bit short (only five or six minutes).

And You and I
In the early years of Pink Floyd, the audience used to be absolutely silent: they were always eager to hear something new and didn´t want to miss a single note. And You And I also achieved that: during the acoustic parts some people were saying ``shht!´´ to others who were clapping. Standing ovation, almost the whole audience stood. This was the only song except for I´ve Seen All Good People where the audience began clapping without being ``forced´´ to do so by Jon Anderson or Chris Squire.

Heart Of The Sunrise  
Chris Squire on the go! Stroboscopes accompanied the heavy intro (I can´t help but think about the Sisters Of Mercy when hearing this song) , and Chris showed some of his abilities: playing while standing on one leg, the other bent and foot on his first knee, touching the strings at the last possible moment while preparing to do so a century before, ... The end was as abrupt as on the album (but without the mix of things afterwards) and it was done right: everybody stopped at the same moment, as did the lightshow. Standing ovation.

Steve Howe Solo  
Only six songs played so far, but an hour had already passed without anybody really noticing it. Jon left us in the ``capable hands of Steve Howe.´´ Steve indeed showed the capabilities of his hands: a perfect Mood For A Day - a given moment it looked like he played a string without touching it, he seemed to be merely pointing at it -, an oh so beautiful Diary - a new piece I think, really beautiful -, and Clap. A guitar isn´t officially a percussion instrument, but don´t you think Steve worries about that: maybe the title Clap means ``play the tune and somewhere in the middle give a few gentle claps on your guitar´´? No Mascerade, so no rambling about the Union-album.

Wonderous Stories  
By the end of Clap, the others had come back to the stage, and Jon Anderson told us some things about a stay in Switzerland. Not for skiing, but for recording. And during those recordings Yes had produced Wonderous Stories, which they now played. A rather short song I´m unfamiliar with.

Igor Khoroshev Solo  
Yes off again, leaving only Igor Khoroshev and Jon on stage. Jon told us about a tape with music of Igor he had taken everywhere in his bag for three months without listening to it, but when he finally had heard it, he had decided Igor was the right man to join Yes. While Jon was telling us these things, Jon used the word ``changes´´ so frequently I secretly began to hope they would play Changes, in my opinion the most powerful Yes song. I would have thrown away Rhythm Of Love and Owner Of A Lonely Heart but to hear this song. No such radical changes in the setlist of course, so no Changes and also no So Long Ago, So Clear, the quintessential Jon & Vangelis song I would almost sacrifice The Revealing Science Of God for.

Jon left the stage and Igor played his things. Good, but maybe a bit too much of the same thing all the time, a bit too simple. Thinking about Keys To Ascension, Igor´s piece didn´t reach the level of Rick Wakeman´s improvisations - the way Rick plays with only going up and down ... Igor is good nevertheless: his solo maybe wasn´t that bright, but throughout the concert he did pull off some very nice synth riffs.

Long Distance Runaround  
Having completed his solo, Igor jumped up, met his applause and sat back down for what seemed another solo but turned out to be the intro to Long Distance Runaround. Like all other Fragile songs, it was delivered flawlessly.

Chris Squire Solo  
Chris Squire! Chris Squire! Chris Squire! Chris Squire! Chris ``Keeper of the Flame´´ Squire prepared himself for his solo like a ``real guy´´ and jumped into action: a solo with Igor, Jon and Alan as backing musicians. The Fish, and Tempus Fugit where Jon was allowed to make his contribution to Master Chris: ``Yes Yes!´´ My thoughts exactly.

When Igor and Jon had sneaked off the stage, Chris made a final jump, pirouetted to face Alan, landed and bent through his knees, lifting his hands in the air and keeping them there. Alan battered his drumkit out of his mind in what I was told was an improvisation based on Ritual. I was actually watching Chris more than Alan, to see when he would lower his arms. I could have spared myself that effort, since Chris kept his arms in the air all the time. Boy, that guy is strong! Alan finished and Chris came back into focus with Sound Chaser.

Owner Of A Lonely Heart  
Yes back on stage once more, and finally Jon fell through his voice: ``On the drums - cough cough - Mr. Alan White!´´ Alan jumped up, already drumming again when he still wasn´t entirely back on his seat. A suitably enhanced riff introduced Owner Of A Lonely Heart, and probably more for ambiance than to spare his voice Jon asked us to sing the chorus: ``Sing it to me!´´ We all did of course.

The Revealing Science Of God  
Good wine needs no crown. The funny thing was that at a certain moment, a chair was placed behind Steve and he sat on it. Not because he was tired like I thought first, but because he had to use two foot pedals at the same time. Doing so standing up would be rather difficult of course. When that part was over, the chair was removed.

I´ve Seen All Good People  
It had been a disappointment to us that we had to sit down, but Jon was kind enough to ask the audience to come standing right in front of the stage for this last song, on those few square meters between the stage and the first row. Finally ambiance took over from the music as we all were dancing, jumping, singing, shouting while Jon and especially Chris were controlling us. This song will never be the same again to me.

As I stood half a meter from the stage by then, I was able to see how the ``warp´´-effect was done: no mirrors, no projectors behind the stage, simply a glitterball that was ``laid on its side´´ and reflected all glimpses of light as it turned around.

Roundabout  
Yes left the stage, but as was to be expected, the audience called them back. They duly returned, a bit too early perhaps: the audience should feel like an encore is an achievement, even though everyone knows it´s planned. Anyway, Roundabout made for another sing-along-song, albeit somewhat more difficult than simply ``I´ve seen all good people turn their heads these days so satisfied I´m on my way´´ over and over again. Once more this wasn´t the Keys To Ascension-version: halfway in the song, Steve played the intro to Mind Drive, ironically enough a new song from Keys To Ascension II, but after a few seconds he cut it off and proceeded with Roundabout. During the last part of the song, Chris came playing right in front of me, and while I was jumping up and down, we looked straight into each other´s eyes for several seconds. He grinned when he saw me jumping even higher then.

Starship Trooper  
Second song of the encore, and certainly not the Keys To Ascension-version: Würm was implemented ``slightly different.´´ During Disillusion, it was Billy´s turn to take center stage, right in front of me. You´d suppose he´d be playing some kind of improvisation, right? Well, he just stood there and did nothing. Go back to the studio, boy! Luckily, Würm was something different: written by Steve Howe, turned into a synthesizer-masterpiece by Rick Wakeman on Keys To Ascension, it was altered again into was can doubtlessly be called The Chris Squire Version Of Starship Trooper. Overruling Igor and Steve (and Jon and Alan for that matter), Chris took off soloing again - right in front of me - rendering this last part of the concert unforgettable. When the song was over, and the Yes guys gave the public their last greetings, Chris Squire gave another example of his strength: after playing a whole concert on the knife´s edge, he was still able to lift his guitar high above his head (with one hand!) without showing any sign of weakness.

My overal impression: way too short - only 2 hours and 35 minutes.

 

Setlist

Firebird Suite
Siberian Khatru
Rythm Of Love
America
Open Your Eyes
And You And I
Heart Of The Sunrise
Steve Howe Solo:
Mood For A Day / Diary / Clap
Wonderous Stories
Igor Khoroshev Solo
Long Distance Runaround
Chris Squire Solo:
The Fish / Tempus Fugit / Ritual (Alan White Solo)/ Sound Chaser
Owner Of A Lonely Heart
The Revealing Science Of God
I´ve Seen All Good People

Roundabout
Starship Trooper

 

 

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