Yes in Concert - 'A Night To Remember'
Pepsi Arena, Albany, NY - November 4, 2002
How do you wrap up a career that spans over 33 years? That is how long progressive rock Godfathers Yes have been recording music and performing. Over the course of time, the band has fragmented, got back together, and then finally come full circle with the "Classic" lineup now performing on tour this year. Jon Anderson (vocals), Rick Wakeman (keyboards), Steve Howe (Guitars), Chris Squire (Bass), and Alan White (Drums), are the dynamic 50 something men that still play with the energy and enthusiasm of men half their age. Jon Anderson said that some thirty years later that they still enjoy playing all their songs, and the audience enjoys hearing them!
It is hard to explain in words everything I was feeling on this night…elation, happiness and satisfaction comes to mind right away, to sum it up…it was a beautiful experience. Invariably there is always some kind of story to tell when you go to a concert though, and I have mine. When we arrived, we parked clear across the complex and had to walk quite a long way to reach our destination, I knew there was a reason it was only two bucks to park. Then, when I went to Will Call to get my tickets, the girl at the window got an envelope and I signed for it, but when she opened up the envelope, it was empty, no tickets!
The 10,000 plus capacity Pepsi Arena was empty when we arrived. The main floor finally filled up and there was a sprinkling of fans surrounding that core audience up front. I would say that there were no more the 2,000 people there, a pitiful showing for New York’s state capital. I attribute this to two things, it was Monday night and most of their fans are older working individuals with families like me, and the younger crowd must not recognize quality musicians and great music when it is right under their nose. Regardless of the time factor and living an hour and half away, I was not going to miss this opportunity of lifetime. I finished up with my work and I was on the road at 6PM on my way to see rock legends. My policy has been not to attend an event during the week, this time I made an exception and I am so glad that I did. The show started at 8PM and continued past 11PM, with a short 15-minute break in between. During the break there were these two old timers sitting behind us wasted out of their minds, one of them dropped a little white pill on the floor and almost fell over me looking for it, then one of his friends stoked up a fat one and proceeded to blow billows of smoke my way. I had the opportunity to escape to the next row in front of me after two women vacated their seats early. I no longer partake in putting mind-altering chemicals into my body, the music gets me high enough thank you very much. Thanks to the vacated seats, I could now see a full view of the stage; before that, I could see everyone but Steve Howe because a large wire obstructed my view of him. Now it was perfect. None of this fazed me in the least anyway, I was seeing legends perform and a concert I had once dreamed of attending was now a reality.
The concert set was very similar to one I had just witnessed over the weekend on the "Symphonic Live" DVD from the 2001 "Magnification" tour, only this was much better. Jon Anderson sounded so strong on this night. They were definitely ON this night, every member of the band. These ageless wonders of progressive rock music made there way from the start of their existence to present day, covering all the highlights of their long and successful career.
Steve Howe, whom I noticed as being stoic on the concert footage I viewed previously, was unusually animated and his playing was magnificent. Everyone’s playing was outstanding. Chris Squire was in a constant state of motion the entire evening, dancing as he played while moving around on the stage. At one point, he brought out a triple neck bass to play! Alan White is a superlative percussionist; I know it must be tremendously difficult to play in harmony to odd time signatures with the complex and intricate patterns that the band consistently pumps out song after song; White makes it look as if it is another day at the office. He is effortless beauty in motion. What can I say about Rick Wakeman? He is the best and always has been. It was so nice to see him on stage with his old mates. They all were very happy to be together smiling and giving nods of appreciation to each other all night. Before the break and at the end of the show they all showed their respect and admiration for each other with hugs and pats on the back. It really was a nice thing to witness. Howe played his acoustic solo gig, and the audience loved it. He interacted joyously with the crowd as the rest of the band took a break.
They played all the classics, "Long Distance Runaround," "Close To The Edge," "Heart of the Sunrise," and many more. Of course, the encore was…you know..."Roundabout" The crowd went crazy and the entire stadium was rocking. Everyone had a moment in the sun. Wakeman played some solo material, Squire and White did a phenomenal give and take jam session together. Every song must have lasted 15 minutes or longer. When each number came together it jelled into an incredible wall of sound that you would have to hear to believe…it really was amazing magic at work.
Make sure you catch them live this year if you can. This lineup may never tour again like this. Wakeman is a busy man with his own projects so it is a rare and special treat to see him join the group. Believe me; it makes all the difference in the world in their sound with him onstage. I cannot take anything away from all the previous keyboard players that have come and gone, they were all good, but nobody can touch Rick. Yes, this was a classic evening, and one I shall never forget.
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