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Notes from New Haven (3)

David and I attended the Yes concert tonight at the Oakdale Theater in Wallingford CT. The opening band (also from the UK), Porcupine Tree, was inspired by Yes, and a handful of other 70s art-rock bands like Rush and ELP. They wandered on stage at 7:25 pm, and played for about 40 minutes.

Yes walked on stage around 8:40 or so, and played a solid two hour set. The crowd was mostly over-35s, many of whom bought a lot of beer, and screamed their lungs out, trying not to embarrass their kids in many cases. Sitting two seats from us was a guy with his 17-year old kid. The kid told us he was seeing Yes for the 12th time, and his dad was attending his 44th concert. When Porcupine Tree would finish a song, he’d scream, “WHERE THE HELL IS YES??”, and after the second time, someone a few rows down yelled, “PUT A CORK IN IT!”. We sat in the second balcony, and the seats were fine. Mostly older people surrounded us (yes, I include myself in the definition of “old”), so no one stood up and danced through the 11 songs the band performed. (The set list is below).

Surprisingly, the band rocked through their set. Chris Squire appeared to be having the most fun, walking about the stage with his cordless bass guitar. He offered the audience a 10-minute solo piece with Alan White, which was a much longer version of The Fish (Schindleria Praematurus), from the album Fragile. He received an deserved extended ovation when the song ended.

Rick Wakeman was surrounded by four keyboards, and would often run between two of them so as to not miss a beat. Jon Anderson sang, played guitar on a few tunes, and various percussive instruments on others. Steve Howe stood his ground, alternating between a number of guitars, including one mounted on a unit on wheels that could be moved away from him when he wasn’t playing. Howe is one of my favorite guitarists, and after 35+ years, he still has his chops. Both he and Wakeman seemed subdued at times – I think age has taken a toll. But they both worked hard and made great sounds. Alan White sat behind the four and provided solid rhythm throughout.

Set list:

1. Magnification (album: Magnification)
2. Don’t Kill the Whale (album: Tormato)
3. In The Presence Of (album: Magnification)
4. We Have Heaven (album: Fragile)
5. South Side of the Sky (album: Fragile)
6. Close to the Edge (album: Close to the Edge)
7. Heart of the Sunrise (album: (album: Fragile)
8. Long Distance Runaround (album: Fragile)
9. The Fish (Schindleria Praematurus) (album: Fragile)
10. Starship Troopers (album: The Yes Album)
11. Roundabout (album: Fragile)

Quibbles: When the technicians were setting up the stage and doing final sound checks, one of them played the opening chords to Yours is No Disgrace, perhaps my favorite Yes song. As you can see from above, the band didn’t play it, nor did they play Owner of a Lonely Heart, Your Move, or And You And I. But I digress. It was a great show, and I still have my hearing.

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