One of the activities of the Veranos de la Villa (along with King Crimson, Carlitos Brown and many others) was the show that Yes offered at Patio Conde Duque in Madrid. There were around 3000 people although I thought that there were going to be less people just before the show began. Anyway, few minutes before the concert, the sold out was confirmed. And those who watched the show close to the stage could dance, jump and clap for two hours and a half with the music of Jon, Rick, Steve, Chris y Alan.
More or less at 21:30, the recorded sound of Stravinsky’s “Firebird” made the people clap for the first time. Immediately the all times best keyboardist Rick Wakeman appeared on stage covered by –yeah- a cloak: this time a black and gold cloak. After that the rest of the band appeared, Jon Anderson, Steve Howe, Chris Squire and Alan White, all of them wearing bizarre clothes, specially White who wore a sort of black maillot. Sure he sweat a lot behind his drumset. Howe hasn’t his guitar collection but his two bodied Fender was on stage ready to be played by the master. Rick’s keyboards and many parts of the stage and equipment were covered by a metal clothe. Chris wore a big orange shirt and a dark coat that disappeared when he began to jump on stage. Anderson wore happy and bright clothes according to his spirituality. Wakeman, on the contrary, had a very serious face during all the show. Squire tried to make him laugh in order to offer an image of normality, but all of us know that image doesn’t exist. Finally a big and enlightened “Yes” logo hang behind the band.
As they did in Sweden and Paris, after “Firebird”
the band played “Siberian Kathru”.
The first seconds showed us that the sound was going to be crystal
clear. Very smart and powerful. At the end of the song Steve played
a good solo and the crowd went wild.
Although everybody agree that “Magnification” is not the best of their songs, and after a brief Jon’s speech who said that he felt comfortable in “this nice place” and explained that the song is about magnifying all the goodness inside us all, the band played the song and it sounded really great. In fact I felt that the song wasn’t as bad as I thought. Anyway the repeating refrain and the mediocre melody made me wake up from that dream; even Squire must be bored because he did some mistakes singing backing vocals. The band introduced some changes at the end of the track linking it with “Don’t kill the whale”. Wakeman’s fingers became invisible as they played the keyboard solo in the second half of the song. Steve’s guitar and White’s drums gave the song lots of energy as Anderson, with his eyes closed and pointing his head to the skies, sang all the lyrics with passion. At the end he said: “don’t kill the whales, don’t kill the trees... because without them we are nothing... nothing... nada...” this in Spanish language.
“In the presence of”, well performed, is one of the best tracks of "Magnification", although the refrain is very boring. Rick created a good mood with the keyboards and that was the best of the song. Anyway people were waiting for “We have heaven”, the next song. The vocals could have been better if the band had a third vocalist because Chris voice doesn’t suit with this song – anyway he did the backing vocals very well in the rest of the show. After that song a great “South side of the sky” made the people leave their seats.
Chris and his bass began to jump across the stage. His powerful bass and the magic hands of Wakeman were the highlights of this song. The piano notes played by Rick sounded perfect and crystalline among Conde Toque’s walls. The oniric ambiance he created was broken by a powerful epilogue with a duel between Steve’s guitar and Rick’s keyboards. The strings talked and the keys answered in a typical rock crescendo. Everybody went wild but not everybody was prepared for the following.
Steve Howe took an acoustic guitar
and began to play the notes of “And
You And I”. In the very first moments we couldn’t
listen to it because of the claps and there were people who asked
for silence. Finally the main part of song began brilliantly with
the peculiar sound of this classic track. The symphonic landscapes
seem to be played by an orchestra. What an ambient, what a power
inside Wakeman, and how did Jon
Anderson’s voice sound after thirty years! Alan
White hit the drums with lots of energy and everybody was
hypnotizes with the rhythm of this wonderful and complex song.
After the final ecstasy, the entire crowd began to sing, showing
the band that was one of the happiest nights of our lives and
we wanted more
As a counterpoint after all the watts, Steve played two songs sat on a chair in the middle of the stage. Very thin and with a long white hair, he played two songs with fingers and pick. “To Be Over” and “The Clap” sounded great and the audience went wild once more.
Jon Anderson was the star of
a funny, bizarre and emotive moment when he told the audience
he was in love with his wife Jane, who was in the third row of
seats wearing a nice blue dress and modern sunglasses. After that
he sang a beautiful song, “Show
me”, helped by Rick Wakeman.
The song is about orfan children lost and alone in the world.
The lyrics, the melody and the wonderful voice of Jon
Anderson were perfect.
After that Rick Wakeman was alone in front of his mountain of synths and played an accelerated version of “Excerpts from The Six Wives Of Henry VIII” with parts of “Catherine of Aragon”, “Catherine Parr” and “Jane Seymour”, as well as fragments of other compositions (The Criminal Record, came to my mind). Perhaps it was the last time that Madrid saw this virtuoso on stage. With a serious rictus, Wakeman and his long hair over his shoulders, entered in our brains and there he’ll be forever with the impressive sound of his pipe organ.
We had to wait for Chris and Alan solos until the middle section of “Heart Of The Sunrise”, a long awaited track that sounded very well and powerful. Chris and Alan played their parts with energy and happiness. Chris jumped across the stage until he got tired (he’s not a teenager) and Alan White hit the drumset as his maillot got definitely wet. The Patio´s walls almost went down. It was an explosive track. Anyway Chris Squire didn’t finished yet and the band evoked the early years as they did in Yessongs with “Long Distance Runaround” linked with “The Fish (Schidleria Praematurus)”, so he took the bass and for never-ending minutes he played only accompanied by a tireless Alan White.
Then Rick Wakeman began to play the greatest Yes song, “Awaken” (in opinion of José Antonio). This song wasn’t born to be played on stage because of its complexity and length. In the same way some fragments create a very oniric ambient difficult to express in a show. Those who knew “Awaken” well asked for every atom of beauty and this time there were moments where that ambient got lost, mainly in the middle section. Anderson did a good job with the harp, but Wakeman and Howe failed when they began to create the crescendo that led to the final climax. Wakeman introduced lots of sounds and it sounded confused. The following two minutes were glorious and sounded great, with a Jon on ecstasy and Howe playing improvisations. The last and calm part took us down to the real world.
The band went out and quickly returned to the stage because of the wild crowd that asked for more. They played two “out of program” tracks. The band introduced a happy and festive feeling with “I’ve Seen All Good People”. The audience sang along and clap with that song, as the band already knew that they were in front an expert and wild audience. Jane danced in the backstage but she came out sometimes in order to kiss her husband. It was a happy experience followed by “Roundabout”, a great ending. The musicians thanked the audience for a long time but Rick seemed sleepy.
Well, I can’t talk anymore because I haven’t more
adjectives. A perfect show by a fistful of musicians who love
their fans and enjoyed by an audience who love his idols. All
of us sang along with Jon moving along the sound created by Yes
that we learned years ago. There were no teenagers, nobody smoked
during the middle section of the show, many people bought caps
and t-shirts, and the bar was empty since the show began.
A Yes night !!!