Thursday, April 11, 2013

The Night I Did Not Meet Steve Howe

I was unexpectedly invited to see YES last Sunday in Bethlehem, PA. Sunday Night - Two hours away from home.

I'm too old for that.

My friend J had an extra ticket and invited me to see the latest incarnation of Yes play at the Sands casino in Bethlehem.

We fought traffic for three hours but arrived at the Sands parking lot about an hour before show time. J was from Broomall and had invited another old Broomall friend Mike. Pretty soon yet another old Broomall friend Scott and his wife joined us.

It was Broomall time just like last time.

In fact there were a number of similarities to last time: my friend D went again and again had back stage passes - not for me this time though.

I also unexpectedly meet someone from murky past. A guy I used to work with 20 years ago parked directly behind us and were the only other group tailgating before the show.

In another strange coincidence, Oldest son was in New York City seeing "B", the kid that went us to to see Steve Howe in 2006. Now that both are out of college, they don;t get to see each other that much.

The crowd was what you'd expect from fans of the 45 year old band. Survivors. There were a lot of canes and such but they were looking strong. It was mostly a male crowd of 50 plus years old and you just had a feeling that they all knew someone that lost all their marbles on bad mushrooms and were worried about flash backs. It was the YES faithful.

The 2013 version of YES is playing three complete albums. Which would have been challenging back in '78, let alone in 2013 when they are in their 60s.

Well all but the singer. Jon Davison has replace Jon Anderson and does a good job in general. As my friend Scott said "he doesn't shine" like Anderson would have back in the day.

Alan White was on Drums. We all knew this because his drum kit had "YES Alan White" written on it.

Geoff Downes of the Buggle era YES configuration was on key boards and of course Chris Squire on Bass.

Mr Howe rounded out the quintet, play guitar(s).

The first song was the title track from Close to the Edge. If it were an Olympic high dive competition, this would be like starting off with a triple lutz. It had to be challenging to record in 1972 let alone play live when you are 60.

Things were going just fine except maybe for racing along tempo wise until the part between "I get up, I get down" and "Seasons of Man". Downes paly a wrong not in there somewhere and then stopped playing altogether. Steve Howe tried to compensate on guitar and then it seemed like the whole thing was going to come off tracks. It was like a car careering down a mountain road.

Close to the Edge indeed.

Now I once saw a video of a Rolling Stones rehearsal and at one point Jagger says "that's enough, you expect the stones to be a bit rough about the edges" after a so so playback.

The same does not hold true for Yes. They are precision. The songs are built on precision and if they are not precises - everyone knows it.

Well that's true unless the band up on stage are your heroes. And there were 3500 folks in the crowd for which these guys were their heroes.
Once I heard the near train wreck, i heard it in every song. I couldn't get past it. Yet everyone else I talked to seemed to have rose colored YES goggles on. They just loved the whole thing.

Don't  get me wrong, I enjoyed it and I loved going.

Next up was the The Yes Album. Starship Trooper seemed off too.

After the second album there was a 20 minute intermission. 20 minutes and 3500 enlarge prostates doesn't add up by luckily I had skipped "The Venture" and went early.

Going for the one was bit better, especially "Awakening". That seemed well rehearsed.

Roundabout was the encore and then after the fastest drive from Bethlehem ever, we were home by midnight.

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