It is all Nicolette's fault. She started it all.
Oldest son and his GF were looking for concerts to go to and found out that Steve Howe, Guitarist from the 70's progressive rock band Yes was coming and could I help them get tickets. They were thinking "can we use your credit card" but I was thinking that a friend from Church (D.) knows Steve and he might be able to hook us up.
D. and I trade emails and He would be more than happy to get us comp tickets and maybe get to meet Steve.
We are in.
The day of the show arrives and Nicolette bails because of work. She is quickly replaced by Oldest Son's friend B.
We drive into the city, park and head to the TLA on South Street. We find one of the Toynbee Idea signs (I must do a blog on these) along the way and I just know it's going to be a wacky night. D. gets us into the TLA, (third row!) and we are hanging out talking to people in the crowd.
These are the Yes Super Fans. The hardcore. The proud. The Few. The still alive. Hats, shirts and signs prevail. It's also Steve's birthday and these people are eating it up.
As 9 pm approaches, a group of guys is getting to their seats in the row in front of us and I think I recognize one of them.
EM: Ya my name is Eric, how d'you know that?
He doesn't recognize me. It's Eric Morgan.
I introduce myself and then it sinks in as to who I am. He is happy to see me and we start catching up. How is my sister? My family? Where is Steve? Andy? He went to see David Glimore last week in NY. He has two kids, 4 and 6. He has a Bricklin. I ask if it has a Flux Capacitor. I think this is hilarous and Eric tells me that the Back to the Future car was Deloren.
We introduce our groups to one another.
These are guys from my old neighborhood back in PA and I haven't seen them since at least 2000 AND NOW THEY ARE SITTING IN FRONT OF ME. What are the chances of this? Tryone Taconelli, Chris Cresse, Bill Lutz and Eric Morgan have come to pay homage to Steve. Chris is a big Yes head and is in his element. He is busily lecturing Oldest son about how today's music doesn't have the positive message that music from the 70's had.
"No negativity man. Rap is crap." Chris says.
I'm thinking music from the 70's was confusing and esoteric and we were um.... under the influence. But 70's music isn't exactly "It's hard out here for a Pimp" either.
I'm thinking this is like some sort of wacky dream. Worlds collide, Jerry. My son is being lectured on the positive aspects of music with lyrics like "Flying shining purple wolfhounds / show me where you are" by Chris Cresse.
This is a little unexpected to say the least.
I fully expect Mr Temme, my 7th grade math teacher to come out on stage and warm up the crowd with jokes.
Mr Temme: What's next in this series? 30,34,40,46,52,56,60,63 ?
Crowd: 68. 70! 72! 65?
Mr Temme: No it's Millborne!
At one point D breaks out Altoids and offers me one. Five mints dump into my hand and now there is no putting them back. I offer some to Oldest Son and realize I am passing around little pink tablets at a concert. I am passing little pink tablets to my son at a Yes-like concert: the wacky dream continues.
I offer some to Chris and Eric and Chris does his best Rev Jim Ignatowski impression with "whoa...."
Calm down Chris, they are mints.
The show starts and the crowd is wishing Steve "Happy Birthday" in every break in the show. Steve is kind of going along with it but clearly he doesn't want to encourage anyone wishing him a happy 59th birthday. He says "that was yesterday" to fend them off. This woman in a "Fragile" T-Shirt arrives late to our row, missing the whole "no more Happy Birthday" thing and in the first break yells at the top of her lungs "Happy Birthday Steve!". She was the only one.
Steve was great, nearly flawlessly playing a wide array of music from Country Blues to Vivaldi and of course he plays excepts from Yes songs. He played better than 2 hours, closer to 2 ½, and is great. I honestly don't know a lot of the pieces but every time a Yes riff emerges the crowd goes crazy.
The best parts are between songs when He interacts with the crowd. He tells stories about "Re-LAY-er" where Patrick Moraz needs to be reeled in from using the wheel on the Moog Synethisizer.
As the show ends I say goodbye to Eric and Chris and we take pictures. The boys and I proudly put on our "All Access" pass and politely wait around for Steve. There are maybe 10 of us. One group of two guys waiting for Steve did something with the sound system; another is an old publicist for Steve and some guys that have made up "Happy Birthday Steve" shirts. We wait around for about a half an hour while the TLA crew cleans up chairs to Otis Reading blasting away on the sound system. Finally Steve comes out and it's kind of awkward. I don't really know him but I feel like I do since I just watched him on stage for 2 plus hours plus the time I've invested in Yes over thirty some years. I was introduced to him by D and listened as he talked about how excited he was that Asia was going to tour again.
I'm glad there aren't groupies because at our age I'm really afraid of what that might look like since a fifty-nine year old groupie can't be a real pleasing site.
He signed my "All Access" pass, we took some photos with him and the boys and I head to Geno's Steaks saying good night and thank you to D. I figure if we are going to do the whole Philly thing we might as well go all the way.
I make my way from South over to 9th and Passyunk erratically making left and rights but I make up for it by parallel parking a 14.6 foot car in a 16 foot spot in 2 backups - because I got mad skillz.
We step outside and it's freezing and this is bad for an outdoor cheesesteak stand. I teach the boys the how to order at Pat's and Geno's and what "wit" and "wit-out" means. They think it's like the Soup Nazi.
Geno's has a sign prominently displayed that reads "Daniel Faulkner was murdered by Mumia Abu-Jamal on Dec 9th, 1981" and B. wants to know why we need to know who murdered him. This starts a whole discussion on the Mumia Abu-Jamal thing and I now know this is just wacky.
I am standing outside in the cold talking with Oldest Son's friend about Mumia.
We eat our steaks and head home.