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 Tweeter Center (currently known as the Susquehanna Bank Center) in Camden, New Jersey on August 8, 2002 during the first part of their Full Circle Tour. You can read more about this show here.
This show was a very special one for me as it was the first time I had the privilege of seeing Yes’ “classic line up” live. In 1995, the “’80’s Yes” lineup (also known as “YesWest”), with Trevor Rabin as the guitarist, broke up. This made it possible for the classic line up (listed below) to reform in 1996 and perform and record the Keys to Ascension shows and albums. Unfortunately, due to internal politics and scheduling issues, Yes was unable to schedule a tour in 1997 with Rick Wakeman in support of Keys to Ascension. There was a lot of press and public appearances (including on mainstream television) that went along with the reformation of the classic line up. After all the hoopla from the reformation, Yes really did not want to short circuit their positive publicity by not touring. The biggest problem was, obviously, that they would be forced to tour with a line up that did not include Rick Wakeman in support of an album that the touring unit did not make. As a result, Yes had to scramble to form a new line up, this one involving Billy Sherwood as a multi-instrumentalist band member and Igor Khoroshev as a touring keyboardist, and a hastily make new album, called Open Your Eyes, consisting of material culled mostly from a Chris Squire / Billy Sherwood project, to support on a tour in 1997.
As is par for the course for Yes, they continued to morph and change until 2001 when they found themselves down to four members (sans keyboardist) and, as a result, elected to record and tour with an orchestra (read more about that here). After their experiment with an orchestra, Rick Wakeman once again became available and rejoined Yes for extensive touring that went on for the better part of two years (I reviewed another show performed by this line-up here) beginning in 2002 with the tour in which the show reviewed below was a part.
The line-up Yes fielded this show was:
The set Yes played was (the album from which the song comes in parenthesis):
This show was amazing for a couple of reasons. First of all, as I mentioned above, it was my first time seeing the classic Yes. I honestly never thought I would ever see this version of the band and I could not believe I had the chance to see them when the tour was scheduled. I am so grateful for having the chance. Needless to say their performance was amazing and everything one should expect from such a fantastic band. The set list was really diverse and this tour marked the first time they played “Southside of the Sky” in full and the first time they played “We Have Heaven” at all. Also, they pulled out “Don’t Kill the Whale” for the first time since 1979. Furthermore, they included new songs like “Magnification” and “In the Presence Of” (which were interesting to hear as they were recorded with an orchestra instead of a keyboard) and rarities like “The Revealing Science of God,” “America,” and “Leaves of Green.” To top it off they also played a new, albeit modest, new song called “Show Me.” “Southside of the Sky” was played, so it seems, as a result of a poll taken on their website Yesworld.
If the above was not enough, this show also was the site of a great Yes adventure! As this was my first classic line up show, I wanted to get a good seat as close up as I could. I used to work for Acme Markets and I attended the show with one of my former customers Allan. As we were not really friends, I did not feel weird in asking him to car pool while, at the same time, buying a single ticket not next to him. I got a decent close seat, or so I thought.
When I got to the show I discovered my seat was, indeed, close, but it was far to the side, so all I saw were the profiles of the band members. Dissatisfied with my seat, I decided to walk around and hunt for an open seat. Due to its location, this particular venue has very strict security, so my efforts to find a seat had to be well timed. I found a number of open seats fairly close to the stage and, unfortunately, no sooner did I sit in them did the seat’s ticket holder appear to boot me out of it.
After a handful of failed attempts to find a close seat, I found myself standing in the aisle next to a drunk guy wearing two laminated passes on a lanyard around his neck. I later learned that his name was Bill (his photo is below!). A security guard approached us, unhappy that we were loitering in the aisle. He went up to Bill first and asked him where his seat was and Bill responded by telling him that his laminated pass allowed him to sit in any open seat. The security guard seemed to accept this. The guard then turned to me and asked where I was supposed to be sitting. I, somehow, had the presence of mind to notice that Bill had two passes around his neck and told the guard that I was with Bill who was holding passes for the two of us. The guard bought it and just told us to find seats quickly, which we promptly did about 15 rows from the stage!
After the show I thought we could try and use Bill’s passes again, so I egged him into trying to get backstage. It helped that he had consumed some liquid courage during the show. He was game to at least try to get backstage. So, we headed over to the backstage doors and, by that time, there was already a line of people there, but none seemed to be wearing a lanyard. I could not help but notice that at the front of the line was local radio personality Michael Smerconish and I can’t help but say I had a certain sense of satisfaction in passing by him in line.
Bill and I got to the backstage door and we told the guard there that we had these passes which granted us access backstage. The guard seemed confused but allowed us back anyway. Upon reaching backstage, I entered a corridor where I saw the dressing rooms for the band and, out of nowhere, Chris Squire turned a corner and faced Bill and I head on in the corridor! As soon as I saw him, I thrust out my hand to shake his and tell him, in, honestly, a typical fanboy sort of way, how big of a fan I was and how much I enjoyed his show. I have to say that Squire is a pretty big guy, but his hand was huge, a lot bigger than I expected. He was very gracious to me and thanked me (and Bill) for the complements. After doing so, he sort of wondered out loud something like “how did you get back here, I didn’t know they were letting people back here already” and almost immediately after saying that, someone with very large 80’s hairband hair, who must have heard Squire, burst out of one of the dressing rooms and quickly ushered Bill and I out of the backstage area, and informed the guard that our passes are not for backstage access.
Well, even if my passes were not for back stage access, I did get back there and got to meet one of my heroes face to face with a firm handshake. Between seeing the classic line up for the first time, getting back stage at a Yes show, and going to Yesday earlier that day (I will post on that soon, see here), this was one of the greatest days of my life! By coincidence, August 8 is also my wife’s birthday, and this was the first one I had the opportunity to commemorate with her after we had first met barely a month before. Also, I took the bar examination a week before this concert and was feeling both the stress of waiting for the results and the relief from finally finishing all the studying for, and taking, the examination. So, needless to say, this was a rather momentous week in my life!
Below are some photographs I took from the show; enjoy!