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Live In Chicago, 2002

Review by Gary Hill

First things first, a warning since the tour is still underway, if you are one of the people who is going to see one of the shows, and if you like to be surprised, don't read this review until after you see them - because there are spoilers in the review.

Next, I need to touch on something that has nothing to do with the band or the performance. I usually don't do things like this, but last night was bad enough that I need to touch on this. Let's go over concert etiquette here. Now, odds are if you are reading this, you care enough about music to not be one of the people mentioned here. However, on the hopes that at least one person who needs to hear this will read it, it is worth posting. The first thing is, if you go to a concert to ignore the band and carry on a loud conversation. Save your money and stay home. You are wasting not only your money, but also the money of those around you. The rule of thumb as far as shouting out songs you want to hear in the middle of other songs is this - if you are more than three rows from the stage the band might hear you between songs, but certainly not during them. I can guarantee that unless your name is on the ticket the people around you don't want to hear you. Shouting "Steve" during a quiet passage of Howe's is questionable etiquette. Besides, I am sure that he knows his name. What is acceptable - dancing, singing, applauding and other forms of showing your appreciation for the performance. Please note - off key singing - although not the most pleasant experience is still acceptable. Well, now that I am stepping off the soapbox, it is time to review the show. However, please note that there are sections of the concert that I could not hear due to constant conversations all around me - despite numerous requests for people to be quiet.

The first two comments to be made about the concert are short and sweet - Rick Wakeman and "South Side of The Sky". As to the first of those, it is so good to have Mr. Wakeman back. I had forgotten just what he added to the Yes sound. What that is, in a nutshell, is this. He adds a sense of style and magic that no other keyboardist to have been in the Yes fold has ever managed. Truth be told, in the world of keyboardists, with the possible exception of Keith Emerson, has no equal. Wakeman sounded so good in this performance. What a great thing to have him back.

As to that song from Fragile, "South Side of The Sky" is a Yes favorite that the band has only performed (until this tour) a handful of times. It seems that it is going to be a standard for this tour, and that is a great thing. I know that that song in particular is one that I had been thirsting to hear live for a very long time. They put in a great and dramatic performance of the piece, although it felt a little slow at times. The group put in an interesting and somewhat altered arrangement of the composition.

It seems like the return of the caped crusader has brought a new vitality and energy to the band, and they really look like they are having fun - more than they have seemed since probably the 90125. The performance overall, with the possible exception of a weird double false start to "America" was top notch and right on. As to that "America" thing, I really don't know whether it was a technical problem, error of just the band messing around. Everyone in the band seemed to have a new fire to their performance. Steve Howe was simply scorching the fret board, and Chris Squire played impeccably and at times like a man possessed. Alan White, always the consummate professional put in an expected strong performance, and of course Jon Anderson is always Jon Anderson. It is a great time to be a Yes fan.

Other highlights of the show included "Awaken", "Revealing Science of God", a stellar rendition of "Heart of The Sunrise" and a very interesting take on "The Fish". Even that old classic "Roundabout", which often comes across as a bit "tired", had a renewed energy, and worked quite well in this show.

If you make this show, and if you are a Yes fan and make no other Yes tour, make this one - expect a three-hour, minus intermission, piece of magic.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2002 Year Book Volume 3 at
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