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Yes Concert Reviews: 9/3/04

Here is another addition to my series of Yes music posts.  I started this series here and you can read the others here.

I saw the progressive rock band Yes play at the Allentown Fairgrounds in Allentown, Pennsylvania on September 3, 2004 during the second part of their Thirty-Fifth Anniversary Tour.  This show featured Dream Theater as the opening band.  You can read more about this show here.

The line-up Yes fielded that show was:

The set Yes played was (the album from which the song comes in parenthesis):


In 2002 the classic Yes line-up, which played this particular show, reunited and toured extensively for two years or so.  I had the opportunity to see four shows from this line-up, two in 2002 and two in 2004.  This show was the last of those four shows.  Unfortunately, I am really too young to have seen the classic line up before 2002, so I made the best of it and saw them each time they played in or near Philadelphia.  I attended this show with my friend Steve who, at that time, attended St. Anne’s Church with me.  Steve is a great jazz guitar player and taught me my first guitar lessons.

This tour was the second part of their 35th Anniversary Tour.  As it was a summer show with an opening band, the set list was substantially truncated as compared to previous shows during the anniversary tour.  The 35th Anniversary Tour featured Yes exploring their “acoustic” (that is to say “unplugged”) side, but this leg of the tour saw the entire acoustic part of the set dropped to accommodate the opening band.  To celebrate the significance of the show, they toured with an enormous stage set designed by Roger Dean and fortunately this show included it.   The venue was outdoors and is the only Yes show I have seen outside (not including shed shows).  I do hope that this line up reunites before they retire.  As much as I love all of Yes’s line ups and all the shows I have seen, I cannot help but say that this line up is something special and really brings out the best in the band.  Also, although Yes has had some great keyboard players, few people are showman like Rick Wakeman.  There is no one quite like him out there.

This show will always mark the end of an era for me as it was the last show I saw Yes perform with Rick Wakeman and, more significantly, Jon Anderson, and it was my last classic-line up show.  I recall the performance was top notch as always.  Even though Yes’ set was abbreviated as compared to the previous leg of the tour, Alan White still used the giant rotating set of eight or ten bass drums around his drum kit (used primarily on “Sweet Dreams” at this show).   They played “America” and “Awaken” which were not played during the first leg of this tour.  They also played, at that time, the very rare “South Side of the Sky” (which was never, prior to 2002, played as it was recorded with the piano/vocal middle section) which included one of my favorite Yes concert moments: the Howe/Wakeman solo duel at the end of the song.

All-in-all it was a great show and some great memories of seeing my favorite line-up (well, I guess my favorite line-up would include Bill Bruford, but close enough!) of my favorite band.

I do not remember much of the Dream Theater set which opened the show.  At the time I was not particularly familiar with their material so I really did not recognize much of it.  I enjoyed it nonetheless and I purchased some of their music after the show.  The most memorable part of the show, for me, was when Alan White joined them on drums to help them cover Yes’ song “Machine Messiah” from Yes’ album Drama.  They only played the instrumental sections.  I imagine Dream Theater chose to do this because they were touring with Yes (obviously) and it is one of Yes’ most heavy metal songs, which is consistent with Dream Theater’s style.

I took some pictures of the show with my old film camera (which I scanned in for this blog) and they are posted below.


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12 thoughts on “Yes Concert Reviews: 9/3/04

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