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YES, Wembley Arena, 16th June 2004

The first UK date on the 35 years tour turned out to be an eventful evening.  7:30 said the ticket, and by 7:40 the lights had dimmed for the intro music, The Firebird Suite.  The blue curtain fell to a warm cheering audience, and straight away, Steve Howe hit the opening notes to Going For The One.  The stage was decorated in Roger Dean creations, and we could make out they were birds, Whales and claws.  Some other people might have made their own minds up what they were, but that’s my opinion!

Sweet Dreams was next, with Alan White having a nice giant revolving set of drums at the sides of his normal kit.  I must point out that the sound was not very clear until the next song, I’ve Seen All Good People, and this got everyone on their feet after the Your Move part of the song.  Next from the Keys album, was Mind Drive, and this had Alan White and Chris Squire in perfect sync with each other.  Mind Drive was split in half, and between the two parts came South Side Of The Sky, Turn Of The Century and a section of Footprints.  Now for me, South Side and Century were the highlights of the first set, and it was nice to hear Turn Of The Century again, as it is a personal favourite of mine.  Steve Howe’s guitar just glided with ease through this, and Jon Anderson’s voice was a joy, as he has a unique voice anyway.

Closing the first set was Yours Is No Disgrace, and Jon Anderson announced before it was played, that the band was going to take a break for a cup of tea and a biscuit.  Sure enough, a break of 15 minutes came after the song, and everyone was on their feet clapping as the band left the stage.

Set two opened with seven acoustic songs, and a Steve Howe guitar solo.  First Rick Wakeman appeared on his own and sat just left of centre stage behind a piano.  He started to play, then Jon Anderson arrived next to him and The Meeting was performed.  The remainder of the band soon arrived on stage, Chris Squire complete with sunglasses and acoustic bass, and the kilt wearing Alan White, as introduced by Jon Anderson and Long Distance Runaround was performed.  Jon then told a tale about recording in Switzerland in 76, and he said good luck to our boys tomorrow, as in the Euro 2004 England V Switzerland match.  He spoke of eating lots of cheese, and lands not far, and of course, it was Wondrous Stories that followed.

Chris Squire then recalled the tale behind Roundabout, and how he and Rick Wakeman conjured up the Chicago Blues type piano sound.  This gave it a nice feel, and most of the crowd were clapping in time with Alan White’s bass drum.  After Show Me, the Rabin-inspired 80’s hit Owner Of A Lonely Heart was performed next, again most of the crowd were singing along.  Steve Howe then played a solo entitled 2nd Initial as the roadies behind him dismantled the acoustic instruments, and shortly the band were full electric again.

From Big Generator, Rhythm Of Love was aired, and Jon Anderson went walkabout accompanied by two stagehands with flashlights through the crowd.  Next, And You And I, for me was the highlight of the second set, and a true classic on hearing everyone else’s reaction.

Ritual ended the second set, complete with a Chris Squire bass solo, and kettle drums played by the aforementioned, and the band left to a very impressed near capacity crowd.

Encore time, and there could only be one song to end, yes, it was Starship Trooper.

So, that was it. Many fans were happy, on hearing, a hand-full had mixed reactions, but as far as any show, you get fans saying they should had played this and that, but I was a happy fellow, I put it on par with the other YES shows I have seen, so there!

One punter who was happy was journalist, TV personality and prog fan, Jeremy Clarkson.  I know he had a great night.  Yes, top gear?  On tonight’s show, it would be a ‘thumbs up’.

Danny Mayo

 

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