So I saw Yes in Allentown, PA on Friday night, and I loved the concert. It included some of the best lick-trading I’ve ever heard from any band in any genre between Steve Howe and Rick Wakeman.
However, as I went to write a post to crow about it, I looked up the set lists on Forgotten Yesterdays, a fan site that tracks the set lists of every venue the band has ever played. When I bought the Allentown tickets, it was the closest venue to DC.
Of course, I found out that they played the Nissan Pavilion just a few days earlier, and they played some songs I’ve never heard the band play, especially not in the classic configuration they’re in now (same as recorded Tales from Topographic Oceans and Going for the One). On the other hand I wouldn’t have heard the aforementioned lick-trading on their cover of Paul Simon’s America, though I heard this lineup play that in 2002.
On the other hand, I’ve heard Steve Howe play The Clap before, and I really don’t care if I hear this bunch play Owner of a Lonely Heart, though it would have been interesting. Hopefully I’ll run across a bootleg, the phenomenon to which the concert program was a paean.
I do regret not having heard this bunch do Close to the Edge, though again I heard 4/5ths of this lineup play that in 2000. I also wish they’d played their cover of Every Little Thing, as I generally like Beatles tunes when played by anybody but the Beatles.
On the plus side, I finally got to hear this lineup play Roundabout, which, as Jack Black noted, has the best organ solo ever…with Karn Evil 9, First Impression, Part 2 being a close second. But I didn’t get to hear Long Distance Runaround.
One thing this concert had which no other I’ve been to (I’ve been to six now, from February 2, 1988 to the present) has had: a Roger Dean stage design. This was inflatable, for shipping and cost reasons, the program said. There were pipe-organ like structures behind Rick, automated drums around Alan, something very like the tree-like structures from Steve’s solo album Beginnings behind him, and a spider/manta ray/bird thing above Jon and Chris. Very trippy and cool, in white with black and grey accents. The bird thing flapped during Awaken, if I recall correctly. Or possibly it was trying to eat Jon. Either way, it moved in time with the music. Chris whipped out his Spinal Tap-like three-necked guitar (guitar, bass, and fretless bass) for Awaken.
All in all, I had a wonderful time, and Yes proved that at age 60, which Jon Anderson turns this year (impossible to believe, he still moves around like an elf with the enthusiasm of a hippy kid), they can still produce incredible, energetic music.
Update: Forgot to mention, Dream Theater opened. I hit traffic and only got to hear the last few songs of their set. It was OK, but for whatever reason, they have never thrilled me much. A little too much high school metal band self-seriousness, not enough prog beyond “look at our cool licks and unison lines,” and definitely not enough successful metal rebellion/fun.
However, they’re still better than 99% of what’s on the radio. But then I don’t listen to the radio, either.