Yes Manchester Arena 19th June 2004
In 2004 Yes reverted back to the classic 1970s line-up of Jon Anderson, Steve Howe, Chris Squire, Rick Wakeman and Alan White. They celebrated their rich musical legacy by going out on 35th anniversary arena tour, complete with a new massive OTT Roger Dean stage set. I feared that the massive 20,000 capacity Manchester Arena would be empty, as it was many years since Yes had performed in large venues in the UK. However, I needn’t have worried. Yes fans from all over the North turned out for the occasion, and although the upper tier of the arena was curtained off, the turn-out was impressive, with the lower tier and the floor area almost full. Marie and I went to Manchester for the weekend and had seats about half way back on the floor, with a great view of the stage. I was quite excited about seeing the classic band again, and with a big show.
This was Yes on full power, with a set which took us Right through their career, including going back to “Sweet Dreams” and “Your is no Disgrace”. The show was in two sets, the second set including acoustic versions of some of the classics. An excellent concert.
Set 1: The Firebird Suite (intro); Going for the One; Sweet Dreams; I’ve Seen All Good People; Mind Drive (Part 1); South Side of the Sky; Turn of the Century; Foot Prints; Mind Drive (Part 2); Yours Is No Disgrace
Set 2: The Meeting; Long Distance Runaround; Wonderous Stories; Time Is Time; Roundabout; Show Me (Steve Howe guitar solo); Owner of a Lonely Heart; Second Initial (Steve Howe solo); Rhythm of Love; And You and I; Ritual (Nous Sommes du Soleil)
Encore: Starship Trooper
I saw Yes on three further occassions; in 2009, 2011 and 2014. I have already blogged about those concerts; so this concludes my coverage of Yes. I am going to spend the next few days catching up on a few bands/gigs that I have overlooked, before completing “Y” (I have Paul Young to cover) and then moving on to the letter “Z”.
Yes Symphonic (or Magnification) Tour Newcastle City Hall 12th December 2001
For the Magnification album and tour Yes were accompanied by an orchestra. It had been many years since I had seen the band, and what better way to do so. The line-up of Yes for this tour was Jon Anderson, Steve Howe, Chris Squire and Alan White. They were accompanied by Tom Brislin on keyboards. The orchestra was conducted by Wilhelm Keitel. I remember that I’d had a terrible day at work, and I was unsure whether to go to the concert at all. However, the thought of seeing Yes again raised my spirits and I enjoyed the concert and was pleased that I went.
The set was a mix of songs from throughout their career, including several newer ones which were totally unfamiliar to me. Classic Yes tracks which they played were “Close to the Edge”, “Long Distance Run-around”, “Starship Trooper”, “And You and I” and “I’ve Seen All Good People”. The encore was “Roundabout”. The orchestra added greater depth and richness to the Yes sound which suited some of their more expansive pieces such as “Ritual”. However, I felt that some of their songs, “Starship Trooper” for example, were better suited to their original “band” sound and that the orchestra added little to them, and sometimes detracted from the purity of the song. Having said that, I enjoyed the concert and it was great to see Yes again, after such a long time.
The concert at the Heineken Music Hall in Amsterdam on 22 November 2001 was recorded and released on DVD in 2002 and on CD in 2003.
Setlist: Give Love Each Day; Close to the Edge; Listen to Your Heart; Long Distance Run-around; Don’t Go; In the Presence of… Concerto in D (2nd Movement) (Steve Howe); Second Initial (Steve Howe); Starship Trooper; Magnification; And You and I; Ritual (Nous Sommes du Soleil); I’ve Seen All Good People
Many thanks to Mitch for the image of his flyer from the concert.
Anderson Bruford Wakeman Howe Whitley Bay Ice Rink 20th October 1989
By 1988 Jon Anderson had become disillusioned with Yes, who now consisted of himself, Trevor Rabin on guitar, Tony Kaye on keyboards, Chris Squire on bass and Alan White on drums. Rabin and Squire were taking the band in a more rock-oriented direction, and Anderson wished to return to the more traditional Yes sound. He left the band, initially intending to record a solo album. He was soon joined by previous Yes members Bill Bruford, Rick Wakeman and Steve Howe. The band recorded one album, “Anderson Bruford Wakeman Howe” and went out on tour, advertising the shows as “An Evening of Yes Music Plus”. Chris Squire and co filed a law suit which attempted to prevent them using the name “Yes” in any of the publicity, however the tour went ahead. The UK leg of the tour started with a concert at Whitley Bay Ice Rink, then visited Edinburgh Playhouse, Birmingham NEC and closed with three nights at Wembley Arena. The Whitley Bay show was not very well publicised: I think it was added to the itinerary at the last minute, and as a result it was poorly attended. The cold, cavernous ice rink was never a great concert venue, and the sound wasn’t good. However, it was wonderful to hear those Yes classics again. They started by going back to the early days with “Time and a Word”, played “And You and I”, “Close to the Edge” and “Heart of the Sunrise”, and the more recent “Owner of a Lonely Heart”. Steve Howe performed both “Clap” and “Mood for a Day”. They also played several new songs which featured on the “Anderson Bruford Wakeman Howe” album. The encores were “Roundabout” and “Starship Trooper”. The four Yes members were augmented by additional musicians including Tony Levin on bass. The concert reminded me just how great Yes were; “Heart of the Sunrise” is a particular favourite of mine, and I remember being knocked out by Jon’s performance of that song in particular at Whitley Bay.
Set 1: The Young Person’s Guide to the Orchestra (intro); Time and a Word; Owner of a Lonely Heart; Teakbois; Clap/Mood for a Day (Steve Howe); Gone But Not Forgotten/Catherine Parr/Merlin The Magician (Rick Wakeman); Long Distance Runaround; Birthright; And You and I; I’ve Seen All Good People;
Set 2: Close to the Edge; Themes; Brother of Mine; The Meeting; Heart of the Sunrise; Order of the Universe; Roundabout
Encore: Starship Trooper
Yes Newcastle City Hall 2nd December 1980
I missed the next couple of Yes tours. I had tickets for the “Going for the One” tour (with Donovan support) at Glasgow Apollo, but passed on it to see the Tubes at Newcastle that night. I also missed out on the Tomator Tour in 1978, which stopped off for four nights and a matinee at Wembley Arena; Yes’ only UK dates on that tour. I remember one of my mates went down to London for the matinee, returning the same evening. The next time I saw Yes was when they returned to Newcastle City Hall for three nights, as part of the Drama tour. By then Jon Anderson and Rick Wakeman had departed and been replaced by Trevor Horn and Geoff Downes of Buggles and “Video Killed the Radio Star” fame. The line-up was thus Chris Squire, Steve Howe, Alan White, Horn and Downes. Horn took vocal duties and Downes keyboards and synthesisers.
We went to the first concert of the three night run, and the City Hall was far from full. The line-up change was just too much for many Yes fans. There was (and still is) a very strong allegiance to Jon Anderson, and any line-up without him can never feel quite right. The fact that Jon and Rick had been replaced by Buggles seemed a step too far; the musical gap between the two bands was far too great. It didn’t feel right. We wondered what on earth this new line-up of Yes could possibly be like.
Actually it was pretty good. Trevor Horn looked nervous, and his voice didn’t quite fit the Yes classics, but he did a great job in what must have been a very difficult situation. Geoff Downes was surrounded by keyboards and synths including a computer; which was probably the first time I’d seen anyone use one on stage. The set drew heavily from their new album “Drama” which featured the new line-up. I remember wondering if they would play “Video Killed the Radio Star”; they didn’t, but they apparently did play the song one night on the USA tour. They did play “Yours Is No Disgrace”, “And You and I”, “Starship Trooper” and “Roundabout”. I remember one of the new songs; “Into the Lens” was particularly good. An interesting concert. Chris Squire (now the only original member) definitely saw himself as the leader of the band; the programme made this very clear, starting with a picture of Chris and a statement about how he founded Yes. Yes split shortly afterwards, and would soon enter a very confusing phase of endless line-up changes. I lost touch with the band during that period. Their visits to the UK would become less frequent, as they concentrated on the American concert stage.
Setlist: Apocalypse; Does It Really Happen?; Yours Is No Disgrace; Into the Lens; Clap; And You and I; Go Through This; Man in the White Car Suite; We Can Fly From Here (a Buggles song); Tempus Fugit; Amazing Grace / Whitefish; Machine Messiah
Encore: Starship Trooper; Roundabout; White Car (a cappela)
Yes Reading festival 23rd August 1975
This is probably my favourite Yes show. Not because it was their best performance, although it was pretty good. No, this show just felt right; one of those moments in time that worked. Yes were one of the biggest bands in the UK at the time, Reading was the most iconic festival of the mid-70s, and Yes headlined the Saturday night, which was seen as the “main” night. The rest of the line-up was strong, and the festival sold out in advance, which was unusual.
There was something special about Yes’ set that night. Although I’d already seen the band twice that year, I was still excited about seeing them. The crowd waited in anticipation, for what seemed like a long time; there was an hour or more delay while Yes set up their equipment and apparently insisted on using their own mixing desk, rather than the festival gear, which every other band used. It was worth the wait, although it started to rain, and continued to do so throughout Yes’ set. Yes had a spectacular laser show, the green lights cascading through the rain and across the field. The set was similar to that which they had played throughout the Relayer tour, although I think they played one new song “High Vibration” which was to appear on their next album “Going for the One”. Jon Anderson was amazing, his small figure picked out by the stage lights, and his gentle, sharp, shrill, sweet voice drifting over the field in the cool evening. “Close to the Edge” and “And You and I” we’re classic. Yes played until well after midnight which was the curfew, and their performance was, in the end, cut short. They returned to play a triumphant “Roundabout”. I think they also started to play “Sweet Dreams” but were prevented from doing so.
Robert Fripp of King Crimson was present and in a 1979 interview summed up his evening thus: “I went to the Reading Festival in August, 1975. A band came on stage who were actually friends of mine [I assume he is referring to Yes]. Anyway, we’d been waiting an hour-and-a-half while their laser show was being set up. I went out to the front. It began to rain. I was standing in six inches of mud. It was drizzling. A man over here on my right began to vomit. And a man over here on my left pulled open his flies and began to urinate on my leg.” A typical festival then 🙂
Dave Holmes tells a great story (on Forgotten Yesterday’s site): “Imagine my horror……,.when, at 12:23 as I recall, emerging from stage left, came the small, grey-suited and grey-haired figure of… my Dad! He walked straight up to Jon Anderson, mid-song, actually took the microphone off him, and made some kind of announcement to the audience about having to finish the concert. The rest of the band looked stunned and stopped playing. The stage lights went off, the crowd started booing and throwing cans of piss at the stage. That was the end of the set and the festival for the year. I didn’t know what to do, I was dying of shame…”
Setlist: Sound Chaser; Close to the Edge; And You and I; High Vibration; The Gates of Delirium; Leaves of Green; I’ve seen all Good People; Mood for a Day; Long Distance Runaround; Clap; Ritual (Nous Sommes du Soleil). Encore: Roundabout
Yes Stoke City Football Club 17th May 1975
Support acts: Sensational Alex Harvey Band; Ace; Gryphon.
A month after seeing Yes at Newcastle City Hall I was off to see them again, this time at Stoke City Football ground. I drove down to the concert with my mate, both of us looking forward to seeing Yes again, and the added attraction of the amazing Sensational Alex Harvey Band. As soon as we arrived we found the nearest pub, where we were surprised to meet a bunch of lads from home, who were huge SAHB fans. We then had an argument about the relative merits of Yes versus Alex Harvey and co; such matters seemed very important at the time.
We entered the stadium and found a place on he pitch. First up was Gryphon whose medieval folk amused us; for some reason a lute, a bassoon and a tin whistle made a perfect start to the day. The weather was ok, quite sunny as I recall. Next was Ace, who pleased the crowd by playing “How Long” twice; once during the set, and again as an encore. Then came Alex.
A large Glaswegian contingent had travelled South to support Alex, Zal and the lads. They got very drunk and England vs Scotland scuffles started to break out among the crowd down at the front, close to the stage. Alex was having none of this. He stopped the song, I think it was “Framed”, pointed and stared the culprits and told them “Stop! No violence, or we don’t play any more” and the fighting ceased, just like that. Such was the power that Alex Harvey held over his audience. This was SAHB at their menacing best; Alex in his hooped t-shirt and jeans, scarf around his head, reading his philosophy to us from an old leather-bound book, Chris Glen wearing a jock strap of his jeans, and Zal in his green leotard complete with full evil harlequin make-up. Wonderful. “Don’t make wars. Don’t fight wars. And don’t pisch in the water”. They stole the show.
Other memories of the day: lots of people openly smoking joints. A little guy in the middle of the crowd sitting with a stash of dope selling it to anyone who passed by. A young guy wearing a battered top hat, posing as a member of the drug squad, grabbing hold of people and “arresting them”, then laughing and telling them it was just a joke after all.
There was a long wait before Yes took to the stage, during which time the heavens opened and it started to pour with rain. The stage crew were brushing rain from the stage and trying to cover the band’s gear with polythene sheets. Yes eventually took to the stage, and had lots of problems with the sound, caused by rain on the equipment. Steve Howe, in particular, seemed to suffer a couple of small shocks from his guitar, and was obviously worried about the danger of electrocution. In the end, after soldiering on for 40 minutes or so, Yes abandoned the show, Jon Anderson promising us that they would return and play a free gig (I’m still waiting and still have my ticket stub, guys).
Then it was back into my little old red MG Midget, and up the A1. A great day.
The next time I saw Yes was three months later, this time at the Reading festival. I’ll write about that tomorrow.
Yes setlist (cut short due to rain): Sound Chaser; Close to the Edge; The Gates of Delirium; I’ve Seen All Good People; Mood for a Day; Long Distance Runaround; Clap; Ritual (Nous Sommes du Soleil); Roundabout
Yes Newcastle City Hall 17th April 1975
Yes returned to the City Hall to play three sold out shows in Spring 1975. Patrick Moraz had replaced Rick Wakeman, after the keyboard wizard had departed our prog heroes because of his dissatisfaction with the “Topographic Oceans” epic. I’d seen Patrick Moraz play in Refugee, taking the Keith Emerson role in the band which Lee Jackson and Brian Davison formed after the Nice split. So I knew how good a keyboard player he was. The line-up of Yes was now Jon Anderson, Chris Squire, Steve Howe, Alan White and Moraz. Yes had just released their seventh album “Relayer”. Steve Howe described Relayer as “very modern, European style of music, and Patrick brought in a South American flavour as well. It was a very international record”.
Support for the tour was Gryphon, a prog-rock band who fused Renaissance music with electric folk, playing medieval and modern instruments. I went to the final concert of the three-night run.
After the marathon performance of “Topographic Oceans” on their previous tour, I was pleased, and somewhat relieved, that this time Yes chose to play a set which consisted of songs from throughout their career. “Close to the Edge” and “And You and I” were becoming concert favourites, and both songs showcased epic performances by Jon Anderson. “Mood for a Day” had replaced “Clap” as a vehicle for Steve Howe’s virtuosity, and “Long Distance Runaround” and “Roundabout” were ( and still are) classic Yes songs. I remember being particularly pleased that “Sweet Dreams” was played as the final encore, although a little disappointed that “Yours is no Disgrace” did not feature. A classic Yes gig, with the band back on form. I saw Yes on two further occasions in 1975, at Stoke football ground and at the Reading festival. I’ll write about the Stoke concert tomorrow.
Setlist:The Firebird Suite (intro music); Sound Chaser; Close to the Edge; To Be Over; The Gates of Delirium; I’ve Seen All Good People; Mood for a Day; Long Distance Runaround; Clap; And You and I; Ritual (Nous Sommes du Soleil)
Encore: Roundabout; Sweet Dreams