We were in Boston Tuesday night at the Wilbur Theater, where Yes played a nearly 3-hour concert set to a packed house. Standing ovation.
I’ll be honest, the Wilbur Theater is a bit run down and the acoustics were a bit wonky, which I hate.
But what a band. As tight, vocally and instrumentally as I’ve seen them in years. And I’ve been going to Yes concerts since I was in High School. It’s hard to think of a group I love more, I’m thinking Yes is second only to The Beatles. Yes songs are complex, inventive, rule-breaking, yet catchy. They sound like no other band.
Like many storied Rock and Roll Hall of Famers, Yes has seen more than a few different incarnations-(see links below). But through the years, a gentleman named Alan White has spent more time on stage in Yes than anyone alive.
And through a simple twist of fate Alan became a neighbor and friend in Seattle and a regular on our radio show. So it means a lot for me to see him still, and to watch him inducted into the RRHOF last year. He’s a legend, not just with Yes, but iconic songs like John Lennon’s “Imagine”, and “Instant Karma”. And he’s the kindest most generous rock star you’ll ever meet.
After the show, Lisa and I will drive Alan and Geoff to Hampton Beach, NH.
How cool is that?
No matter how many rock heroes I meet, it doesn’t get old. They still have the power to make me feel like a kid. It’s a pure joy being near the artists behind those great records. We’re giving them a lift to Hampton Beach to arrive a night earlier than the tour bus. They can take it easy, and watch the World Cup.
Y’know, the guy from not just Yes, but supergroup Asia and The Buggles. “Video Killed the Radio Star” was about MTV, but it’s still relevant today. MTV wounded the Radio Stars. Then YouTube happened. YouTube and Spotify are proceeding to close the coffin and shovel the dirt.
Times like this I miss the old gig a bit. I’d love to interview Geoff, ask him a million questions about writing and playing keys at his level. His rig has no fewer than 9 keyboards in a semi-circle, plus 3 MacBooks loaded with software synths. The level of sound design, and sophisticated production bells and whistles available now were unthinkable back in the day.
Alas, that’s not my job tonight. I expect they will be exhausted, and they are.
The band puts out a high energy 3-hour tour de force, followed by fan meet & greet that’s over an hour long. It takes another 30 minutes to get the car out of the garage. Lisa texts me that Geoff is a little cranky, probably a subtle hint that I shouldn’t go all “fanboy” on him.
I did say that the show was tight, that this was one of the best Yes lineups I’ve seen.
We pull into the Hotel around 2am.
Lisa and I are up to walk the beach just before noon. Alan and Geoff are in the restaurant in front of a big screen to watch the World Cup.
Bummer that England lost in O/T.
Tonight these guys will bring it again.
***Update**** 1:00am EDT. Thursday. Hampton Beach. A solid venue, great sound. Another show with the crowd on its feet for multiple standing ovations.
As I’m walking out I overhear a Yes fan wearing a shirt from a decade’s old tour raving about this lineup. I casually strike up a conversation and ask him to say more. He’s seen somewhere between forty and fifty shows over the years, knows every bit of the history, who was in when, played on which albums. He knew the setlist before he arrived, including who the special guest was.
I’m impressed. This was a super fan. His name is Paul. He says when he saw the lineup, he decided he’d better see this show.
Security is now kicking everyone out who doesn’t have a backstage pass. I tell them Paul is with me. Just to see the joy on his face, when we visit with the guys.
SPOILER ALERT*** Special guest is Tony Kaye, the original Yes keyboardist. He’s on fire and having fun.
There are 2 versions of Yes touring, and from what Paul says, they are both excellent. And I can tell you that Steve Howe, Geoff Downes and Alan White’s version with John Davison (vocals) has the goods.
Ever since the Hall of Fame induction, Jon Anderson, Trevor Rabin, and Rick Wakeman have started calling themselves Yes, though they don’t own the logo, and use a sort of disclaimer.
I like that they are not suing each other. That feels right for a band called “Yes”.
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