Yes at the Ryman auditorium in Nashville was my second concert for the summer, the first being Jack White at the Saenger Theater in New Orleans. You may recall that my Jack White concert experience was not so great, and this is why:
- We were informed by one of Jack’s henchmen upon arriving that we were at a rock concert, and as such, were expected to stay out of our seats and on our feet throughout the show.
- We were then informed by this same Jack-like sycophant that we were not allowed to take pictures or videos and it was implied that those who tried to do so were crass and ill-mannered.
- Being crass and ill-mannered, I then got yelled at by a cell phone-Nazi in official looking black polyester pants to put away my phone.
- A lot of the audience members were obviously Jack-imitators whose primary motive was to look, act, and sound just like him, down to his mannerisms and vocal affectations.
- I was nearly blinded by a floodlight on stage that was aimed directly at the audience, not that it mattered anyway, because I couldn’t see the stage as I stood there in my little pocket of extra-tall Jack-imitators for hours, listening to distorted, overly-loud music.
- There was an overall vibe of coldness and negativity and rigid conformity, along the lines of Tommy’s Holiday Camp or the concert scene from The Wall, and it was apparent that the whole thing was as much, if not more, about fashion and fad as it was about music, which is unfortunate because Jack is a talented musician, in spite of everything.
So now that you have all that concert misery firmly in your mind’s eye, imagine the direct opposite of each point. Friendly, helpful venue staff and an ancient elevator operator that tells you jokes on the way up. A non-pretentious looking audience of mainly middle-aged people, mostly wearing jeans and tees, and all sitting down comfortably. And using their cell phones to take the occasional video or pic. No big deal. All sharing happily in the joy of sublimely beautiful, perfectly clear music, performed by a band that looks as relaxed, friendly, and non-pretentious as the crowd.
To put it succinctly, as I sat in the concert, experiencing all this, the thought popped in my mind, “these are my people, and this is my music”. I’m sure I’ve conveyed my love for the music of Yes in my previous concert review and in my post about the Roundabout Fiasco of 1979, so I won’t belabor the point. However, I do need to compare this concert to the Yes concert I saw in Jackson last year.
The Nashville concert reinforced to me how very special the one in Jackson was. Not that this one wasn’t great, because it was, but the show in Jackson was extra special. The band had been delayed for two hours due to weather and had chartered a plane and flown through bad weather to get to us. Jackson waited; hardly anyone left. I’m sure the band was tired and stressed, and I don’t think they expected the incredibly enthusiastic reception that they got from the audience. Perhaps they weren’t aware that Jackson, po-dunk town that it is, had one of the ass-kickinest album rock stations in the nation (WZZQ) during the 1970s; thus, we were all heavily exposed to Yes during their heyday and love them vehemently still, although they hadn’t played here all these years, what with us being po-dunk and all. So when Yes got extended, passionate, emotional ovations after each and every song they played, and I’m talking the best ovations I’ve ever heard in my life, you could see the surprise and gratitude in their faces. All of them were smiling ear to ear, including the normally stoic Steve Howe. Chris Squire, one of the nicest guys in rock, who lives and breathes Yes, was so emotional you could see the mist in his eyes. But he was not alone – half the audience was in tears. An amazing concert and a profound experience for all who were there – band and audience alike.
So the Jackson concert gets an A+ and the Nashville concert gets an A-. They played Close to the Edge in reverse order, which kinda messed me up a little. They played two songs from their new album Heaven and Earth, and they were just okay. And they just didn’t seem quite as tight as they were in Jackson, but I think that’s because they were giving it all they got at that show, since we were definitely giving them all we had that night.
I feel so lucky that they are still touring and I got to see them again. They still speak to me in those old, sweet accustomed ways…
And uh…this is for you know who and his concert henchmen, because we’re not gonna take it. We know how it’s supposed to be. This was recorded at Woodstock. Where people sat, stood, rolled in the mud, or whatever they wanted to do…
And by the way, we’re still free…
Okay, one more, I can’t resist. So glad to be a part of the Yes generation. And The Who. It’s my generation, baby…
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