Tuesday 24 November 2009

Yes @ The Hammersmith Apollo, Tuesday 17 November 2009: Part 2

The show song by song:

Siberian Khatru: As always, and this is a perennial complaint, the band took a song or two to get going. The mix was still improving through “Siberian Khatru” with David far too quiet. The performance was so-so.

I've Seen All Good People: It feels like an odd position to be playing “I've Seen All Good People”, second on the set. “All Good People” works well as a closer or an encore, but as a way of introducing the band? And I still wasn't quite convinced by the new line-up at this point, worried my girlfriend would not enjoy her first Yes experience.

Tempus Fugit: here was the first “new” song, “new” only in the sense of not being a regular in the set and new to me, I've never heard it live before. By now, things had come together. The band were in good spirits and they played tightly.

Onward: “Onward” feels odd in this context; its balladry makes it quite unlike the other songs in the set. The Drama songs fit in very well with the Fragile material; even “Owner of a Lonely Heart” is not as different. Still, it was a good performance; Howe most of all.

Astral Traveller: A great performance, Howe and Wakeman both shone. However, the drum solo did nothing for me; it just seems pointless!

And You and I: The band were well in their stride by now: another strong performance.

Yours is No Disgrace: As ever, a good excuse for Howe to go crazy!

Steve Howe solo: A fantastic performance of “Corkscrew” began Howe's solo slot. I think of the piece as “Countryside” (released as a bonus track on Tormato) and Howe's performance made me wish for a full band version of this song. Next was “Sketches in the Sun”, another lovely performance.

Owner of a Lonely Heart: Howe introduced this tune explaining the band had done it “while I was away doing something else”. With his Trio and the cover versions in Asia's set, Howe is becoming a keen interpreter of other people's material, and he does it well, with gusto. Howe was having fun at being an 1980s guitar god with some great solos.

Machine Messiah: Another highlight, even if they had to extend the intro when Squire was late to come in.

South Side of the Sky: Those great songs, they just keep on coming. Oliver Wakeman was good on the piano section. However, as in the early '00s, I'm not convinced by the trading solos at the end and here Wakeman's work was disappointing.

Heart of the Sunrise: The opening remains effectively a Squire solo spot. Overall, another highlight.

Roundabout: A good performance, but forgive me if I find it too familiar.

Starship Trooper: A good closer and a rousing finale.

The show, as with most on this leg, is available to buy on MP3. I got it at the venue straight afterwards (with the last few songs available for download afterwards). It's a nice souvenir, if no Yessongs. Like the show, it suffers from an uneven mix at the beginning (Squire's vocals are almost louder than David's on “Tempus Fugit”), but it's good to have some of these performances preserved, like Howe's take on “Owner of a Lonely Heart” and “Astral Traveller”.

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