LOS ANGELES – March 26, 1984
Authored by Dale Nickey:
I can bear witness to the re-birth. I woke up one early morning in a half conscious state to what I thought was the voice of Jon Anderson. Impossible, since the station I was tuned into only played contemporary pop. However, incredibly, this was Yes. I had lost track of the band after “DRAMA” and was busy with my own group and a new day job with the government. However, I rushed out immediately and purchased “90125”. Mmmmm…. different album cover for sure. Obviously they are thinking outside the box. Good for them.
Now I am sitting in a packed Los Angeles Forum. This will be their first L.A. gig as a Billboard certified # 1 act. Supposedly the support act Berlin will be opening. However, the stage setup does not look support band friendly. Sure enough, a Bugs Bunny cartoon on the screen at the back of the stage serves as opening act. A good one too. The one about Bugs bullfighting in Barcelona. My inside sources tell me Berlin was put out about the late cancellation and are considering legal redress. I was victim of this come on before when Steeleye Span was advertised as opener on the “Tales From Topographic Oceans” tour. I got some singer-songwriter on a stool instead.
Trevor Rabin is quite obviously the young blood in this veteran band. Jon Anderson looks a bit like a “glammed-up” Robin Williams in his “Mork” phase. Appropriate, given the space-age ambiance of stage set for the 90125 tour. Gray, spartan, uncluttered, and modern, just like the album cover. Chris Squire is robust and playing better than ever although he obviously has aged. A modern brush back cut and a layered couture’ are used to good effect to mitigate father time’s indiscretions. He looks a bit like a human incarnation of a brown onion. Tony Kaye is an eye opener. He plays all the old classics faithfully with contemporary sounds. He plays the tricky riff for “Long Distance Runaround” with both right and left hands. He is obviously there for good reason aside from historical continuity. I would have loved to see Eddie Jobson with the band as originally planned. But, Tony deserves the good karma after his brusk dismissal at the beginning of the group’s mass popularity. His token nod to space age fashion is a Silver metallic sports coat that conceals a rock and roller clad in black sleeveless T and black trousers.
Trevor is obviously a gifted EVERYTHING and has looks to boot. His guitar playing is definitely from the Widdely, Whammy, hey LOOK AT ME!!! school of rock guitar. Van Halen, Schon, Lukather… you get the idea. However, in this genre he is clearly the most nuanced and melodic. Having a producer like Trevor Horn doesn’t’ hurt either. Anyway, back to the concert:
The band opens “Cinema” followed by “Leave It”, A spirited manifesto for multi-tracked harmony singing. It is the closest the Trevor
band would ever come to the old Yes sound. All members contribute vocals. The concert is off to a successful start. I am seated close to the stage at the side and have a full view of Tony Kaye’s back and his keyboard rig. “And You And I” fairs the worst from the Yes makeover. Trevor’s obvious “No Howe” policy leaves him sitting short at the table in the face of a magnum opus of this scale and detail. His execution of the simple 3 chord verse is perfunctory and passionless. The dive bombing, string bending approach to the solo is likewise out of place. Chris Squire performs “The Fish” for the first time in several years and brings down the house. “Amazing Grace” is referenced as a bass solo. His tune “It Could Happen” is also very well received. It is apparent that this band is very much a Chris baby with Trevor taking over full time nanny/custodial care. Let Steve Howe go make kazillions with ASIA. It is now Yes’ turn as a # 1 hitmaking band. Quite a saga if the critics cared. They don’t.
Not much more to say. Yes remains a sell-out live attraction, but the ante has been raised. They are now at the top rather than in pursuit of the top. Different paradigm. Yes will TORMATO us again with “BIG GENERATOR” (Horrible record cover and disjointed collection of songs with a couple of gems). Anderson will tire of the starmaking machinery a go running back to the more artsy/European sensibility of ABWH. Yes will never be this popular again. However, the team has finally won their first World Cup. They now have some laurels to rest on before moving on to the third act.