Yes, October 29th 1999
Union Hall, Phoenix AZ, USA
By Fred Hunter
So there I was in Phoenix to see Yes - a one hour flight from LA. The venue
was a very traditional looking theater in downtown Phoenix called 'Union
hall' - wonder how it got its name? The security in and around the building
was noticably softer than in LA which was great since it allowed the very
enthusiastic local crowd to really enjoy themselves.
The band hit the stage around 8.15 to the strains of the Firebird suite
which always gets the audience 'fired' up! A huge screen behind the band
showed old pictures of the band which each in turn sent the crowd nuts -
rather oddly the photos mostly seemed to come from the Topographic /
Relayer era, material which the band still ignores when playing
Anyway they kicked off with a very strong Yours is no disgrace that Howe
shined on immediatley during the central solo section .The sound was crystal
from the start and the vocal harmonies were clearly audible - its never been
one of my favourite songs of theirs but as a start song ( just like the
Union tour of '91) it works wonders!
After a short acapella version of Time and a word by Anderson the band
then slid into the opening track on The Ladder, Homeworld. It was much
better than the CD version, the vocals being especially strong . The crowd
gave the band a standing ovation after the quiet end of this great song
-this would be the first of many tonight..
Surprising everyone the band then went straight into Perpetual change
playing all of this wonderful song for the first time in many moons. The
middle section of this song was especially incredible with Billy Sherwood
playing the repetitve part along with Squire as Steve Howe soloed, this was
definitely an improvement on any previous live rendering of this tune
because of the presence of two guitarists.
Anderson then greeted the audience with his usual "wohs!" and we were
treated to two new songs Lightning Strikes & The Messenger both were
played perfectly and as with all the other new songs seemed to way outdo the
studio versions. Chris Squire's playing in Lightning Strikes was
unbelievable! Listen to the song and then try and imagine it live
-unreal... Steve also played acoustic guitar on the whole of this song while
Sherwood handled the electric parts.
A very short Nous sommes du soleil was then sung almost acapella as an
intro to And you And I this as usual sent the crowd wild - personally I
would much rather hear a rarer song in place of this piece (Sound chaser
or South side.. we can dream about!) but I seemed to be firmly in the
minority on that issue..
Shockingly (judging by the previous setlists of the tour ) the band then
went headfirst into Close to the edge. As always this song was amazing,
but it really did seem stonger than any recent tour versions of this
classic. They seem to have got back to the 1972>76 speed of the song which
is so good to hear.
Another standing ovation followed and the band launched into It'll be a
good day another strong new song that went down very well. It was
immediatley follwed by Face to Face which sent the already crazy crowd
absolutley nuts - by this time many were dancing in the aisles and hardly
anyone was sitting down- which for a Yes gig here is unusual!
The first real surprise was next as the band started Hearts from the
90125 album. Billy Sherwood handled Trevor Rabin's parts very well as
Steve Howe added some wonderful slide guitar parts to the song to make it
one of the best of the night.
Next was the big one!! ...Awaken. You only have to imagine how good it can
be and it was better I assure you! Chris Squire delivered the insane bass
parts from his famous Wal triple-neck bass and Igor khoroshev easily copied
Wakeman's parts perfectly, Anderson strummed the harp in a dream-like state
in the songs middle section then the whole thing was capped off by that epic
slide guitar solo by Steve Howe over the bands crashing chords- it doesn't
get any better than that!!
The band then closed the show with the obvious I've seen all good people
medley a great sing-along end to the gig...
Of course the guys returned a few minutes later after rapturous applause
with Anderson and Howe curiously absent... Alan Whites pounding drumming
signalled the start of the surprising choice for an encore Cinema -I've
always loved this little energetic piece - once again Sherwood handled
Rabin's guitar parts well as (not too surprisingly..) the song went into
Owner of a lonely heart -the crowd went berserk at the start of the song.
I actually like the song and I guess if the people want to hear it (and
they seem too!!) then this postion in the show is probably it best spot.
After another ovation the band finished up with the shorter version of
Roundabout although I'm utterly sick of hearing this song ( many radio
stations here still play it all the time..) it always seems the 'right' end
to a Yesshow. And so it was!!
All in all a very strong show and at almost three hours very worthwhile
seeing. Maybe they didn't pull enough surprises out of the bag for this old
Yes fan but they delivered enough oddities and more than enough new material
(which was all good..) to send me driving back through the streets of
Phoenix with a big smile on my face.
Intro (Firebird Suite)
Yours is no Disgrace
Time and a Word
Nous Sommes du Soleil
And you and I
Close to the Edge
It'll Be a Good Day
Face to Face
I've Seen All Good People
Owner of a Lonely Heart