Spirit Mountain Casino 2014
I'm being honest with you, that I did not
want to write this review, as it took me a long time to figure out where to come
from and how to approach it. In general, for me, it is best not to write when
things come up in that manner, which normally means there are things you want
and like, and things you don't want and dislike.
So I went to see YES, at the Spirit Mountain Casino here near Portland, Or, and ... and ... and ... and ... when I left the show, what was in my mind was the evening at the Long Beach Arena, after the Tales from Topographic Oceans tour, when I had tears in my eyes, because I knew that no one, not a single band, would ever play a bigger, better and more valuable piece of music than the one I just heard. And I thought the concert was even better than the album, although a bootleg I heard 10 years later would show me that half of it was better the other half was just fine.
I did not have any expectations, as to what this was going to sound like. I had not heard the new singer before (never bothered with his band as yet) and/or the previous singer. I tried to keep an open mind and ear, and I had not even heard the new album and any of its pieces, as I wanted to see how they would jump at me, if they did at all!
This was a show about their early days. From their 3rd album on. And the next album, and then the next album! ONLY.
Which to me was disappointing. In essence the band stuck to the set of music that made them famous in Southern California radio and eventually the biggest staples of the early FM days ... Roundabout and Close to the Edge.
The renditions were good from an instrumental point of view, although I thought that Geoff Downs was tied to having to be way to dependant and close to the correct sound that Rick Wakeman had created, which ... while fine for the folks living in the past, provided to be rather boring for me. I was hoping to hear something new and fresh, and instead I got to hear the same renditions of the same thing for the same few years.
All in all, and you can see it in concert, YES is tied to Steve Howe and Chris Squire being able to work on each other. And they were both very good all night long and Chris was specially sharp, while on occasion it would seem that Steve was trying to find a new scale or sound on his guitar. This, limits the ability and the continuity of what once was the main thrust of this band ... a combination that was very strong, that brought out some amazing music.
In the end, this was not one of my favorite concerts. The only time I got excited was during "I've Seen All the Good People" which was the song that got me to go after the album. It was not a happy time for me, and the album provided a nice uplifting moment.
The singer ... I don't think that people will like what I'm going to say. The voice was fine, and I had no issues with some of his interpretations, although I thought he was trying way too hard to get the message across. By stretching his arm to the left, or to the right as if that circle and movement made some kind of important meaning for the audience to accept and pick up. I found that lacking, and considering the stature of the band, to have what amounted to an amateur carry their material, is not the right thing to do, and given the circumstances and the lack of training and ability, it was like ... he has no idea what the lyrics are about anyway ... well, hell's bells, neither do most of us, up to and including some of us that have this idea of some quasi-spiritual vision that some of the songs are supposedly about.
Maybe it was that in those days, Jon Anderson actually lived the words he wrote. He knew what they meant and he did not have to "show you" what the words meant ... and this shows, even on his foray with Transatlantic! And finding that this version of YES has a singer that is not well trained, or has the ability to take the words and the music to a different level that can carry the band, a lot further ... made it a sad evening for me.
It felt like your best friend, you're both old and sick and tired, and he's on his last days, and you can feel it, and all you can do is remember a few sights from the old days ... the girl you went with to the show, the fun you had later, the moment you first heard Close to the Edge at home all of them ... minute visions in a miriad of years and time and space, long gone, no longer satisfying, that leaves you sad ... you can't bring back the glory. You can't hope for a miracle, because it is not likely to happen anyway, and you will, eventually, just walk away, feeling despondent, and wanting to put it all aside, because it has all become a sad memory now.
I treasure the work this band did in the early days. They were also a vital part of my internal constitution, however, I did not get stuck on the fan thing, and the top ten thing like most people did. I knew more music out there, and more arts. Most people around me didn't! They didn't even know the difference between Chuck Berry, YES and YoYo Ma! But they knew their Rolling Stones and their Led Zeppelin. I had gone way beyond all that into many other bands and music by that time, and YES lost its strength with me after the demise of TFTO and a couple of their members did not have the inner strength to stand by their music, and trashed it for many years. How would you like to trash you own life's work? So you spent over a year putting something together and all it was for ... the public ... was some sort of masturbatory exercise in rock music?
I don't think so.
And it's also ... "I don't think so" about the concert as well. And maybe the band should invest in teaching the young man to sing, and stop with chiche expressions that are meaningless and boring. It might help the band come off a bit stronger than otherwise, some 40 years after the original. In this case, the original was still better ... way better
Please email me with questions and/or comments
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