Two nights in a row of yacht rock? And with the guy who essentially created it? Sure! Probably should hand over my Metalhead Gold Card for a little while, eh? No worries, lots of metal shows coming up!
I’ve been a fan of Christopher Cross since as long as I can remember. Good easy smooth rock. Ride Like the Wind is still such a fantastic song. I took the decision yesterday to see the show and got a seat in the upper balcony of the famed Paramount Theater. I had only seen Cross when he sat in with Michael McDonald a few years ago for Ride Like the Win.
The show opened with Got To Be a Better Way from his new album. Never Be the Same was up next and he spoke a little about TV preachers, which was an intro to another song called Reverend Blowhard from his new album, The Secret Ladder. Is this a 1989 metal show?
He played a mix of old and new songs split between 2 sets. Of course Sailing drew a huge response. I was really stoked to hear Thinking of Laura and Minstrel Gigolo which featured an appearance by Eric Johnson. He mentioned that he and Eric had been best of friends since the 70s and I think it rubbed off on him.
It was a really good show and what I was most amazed by was Cross’ guitar skills. The guy is a bit of a shredder. I was blown away. I’ll really have to go back and revisit his early catalog and give a better listen. And of course his backing band was top notch. His drummer and piano player especially.
I don’t believe in “guilty pleasures”, especially when it comes to music. You like what you like and that’s that. Screw what others may think. Since the 70s and partially because of my mom, I’ve always loved Chicago and still go see them live when I can. They still sound great but I’ve never seen them with Peter Cetera nor have I seen Cetera on his own. Fortunately that changed last night.
In as much as I like Chicago, I really like Peter’s early solo work, especially 1988’s One More Story album. So as is generally the case, I bought two tickets for the show. My lovely friend, Margarita, was available to attend and is also a Chicago/Cetera fan, so it made for an enjoyable evening. In my best Troy McClure voice, “You might remember her from such reviews as ‘Lionel Richie in Austin’ and ‘Journey in San Antonio.'” haha
I bought tickets a little late so I didn’t quite get where I wanted, but still got good seats on the front row in the balcony. By yesterday, the show was only 3/4 sold out based on the Ticketmaster map. No matter.
His band comes out first after the lights go down they go right into Restless Heart. His voice sounded a lot clearer than I expected. Some recent footage I had seen sounded a bit rough. He followed up with One Good Woman, a personal favorite, and Glory of Love which drew a loud applause at the beginning and end. He then asked everyone down front to put their phones away. “Use them during the encore all you want, but for now just enjoy watching the show.” Cheers, Pete!
He mixed the rest of the set up with a mix of Chicago and solo hits, doing a few duets with his back up singer and a few with his guitarist. He left during 2 covers songs, You’re No Good and Come Together, letting the band take care of businees while he took a break. He closed the main set with Hard Habit to Break, Dialogue I & II and Hard To Say I’m Sorry/Get Away, another personal favorite. I was so happy that they did the Get Away part at the end of the song. It just brings the whole thing together. Rarely is that part ever played on the radio edit of Hard To Say I’m Sorry. The band exited the stage and people started trailing out quickly. He had stated that there would be an encore, but whatever.
Before the encore started, he finally strapped on a bass and they went into I’m a Man by the Spencer David Group and has been a Chicago set staple for years. It transitioned into Feelin Stronger Everyday and closed with 25 or 6 to 4. I sort of wish that his touring bassist would not have been playing along, but you could discern Peter’s tone between the two. He’s such a good bassist and I would liked to have seen him play more last night. It was pretty clear that they were tuned down to help him reach some higher notes, maybe as much as a full step, but he still sounded great. It was an energetic show and he was entertaining between songs. The only song I wish he would have played from his solo works is the slow roller You Never Listen To Me. So glad I got to get him off of my list of bands to see.
Last night was filled with a bunch of bad ass musicians playing great rock and progressive music. I could end the review right there, but we’ll keep going. I scored the VIP/meet and greet when it was first announced because I’ve always wanted to meet Chris Squire and Steve Howe. Unfortunately shortly after I got my ticket, Chris announced he wasn’t doing the tour due to health issues and subsequently died. Terrible.
Since they didn’t offer a refund and the pass was non transferable, I went through with the show.
Toto was the opener and while I respect them and love their hits, I’m not a huge fan. Having never seen them before, I was a bit excited to see them. Toto is a band, like Yes, who has seen some real loss. RIP Porcaro brothers. A big plus is having Steve Lukather in the band. I was tempted to buy their meet and great instead of Yes’ just to have Lukather sign my Alice Cooper From The Inside CD.
Toto’s set started promptly at 7:30 consisted of their biggest hits Hold the Line, Rosanna, Pamela and Africa. I was pretty much lost on the rest of their set, although they sounded amazing. I was impressed with Steve Porcaro’s vocals more than anything. His range is still amazing. Lukather’s vocals sounded good, too. His playing was solid. His solo at the end of Little Wing was pretty amazing.
One thing that was really cool was that they had the legendary Lenny Castro on percussion. What a treat!
The whole band sounded great and they had their original bassist back in the band as well. David Paich only sang Africa, and he was having some issues. I don’t think it’s an easy song for anyone to sing in general. They were good but I doubt I’d go out of my way to see them again unless they were part of another great bill like last night’s. The played a full 90 minute set and I was really hoping to hear 99 and Georgy Porgy, but oh well.
After a 30 minute changeover, Yes came on at exactly 9PM with a tribute video to Chris Squire with his signature Rickenbacker bass lit up in the middle of the stage.
They opened with Don’t Kill the Whale and followed up with Tempus Fugit from the Drama album, probably my favorite album by them. They went through America and Time and a Word, which I had never seen them do. It sounded great. Jon Davison does a great job on lead vocals. Billy Sherwood is handling bass duties and holds his own, but there’s only one Squire. The band is certainly older and a bit slower, but they sounded great. I love watching Steve Howe’s facial expressions and cues making sure that Alan White was ready for a break or whatever. Just like last time, it’s obvious that Alan has lost a few steps in his delivery, but he still played fine.
Seeing Steve play Owner of a Lonely Heart was quite weird. You could see that he didn’t care for it. They extend the end, though, and he gets to rock out with his own solo which was quite awesome. The whole show was except for the drunk girl next to me. We were on the front row. She and her boyfriend showed up with 2 songs left with Toto and she had a purse full of airport liquor bottles of vodka. Towards the end of Yes’ set, she was wasted and kept flipping off the band while they were playing complaining that they should be closer to her near the end of the stage. She looked over at me during the encore, Starship Trooper, and said, “Sorry. Am I bothering you?” I looked at her and her boyfriend, shook my head and just said, “You’re an idiot.” After the band finally walked off stage she turned to me again and said, “You should add me on Facebook.” I just said, “Not interested.”
They stumbled out and we went side stage for the meet and greet. I was shocked that they had about 70 people. Tour manager rambled off some procedural stuff and a few rules about how you can shake hands with anybody except Steve Howe. “No hand shakes, fist bumps, hugs, pats on the back etc.” I asked of we were at least allowed to look him in the eye and he and the crowd laughed.
They were cycling everyone through the line twice. First time for your picture with the band and the second to get stuff signed, 2 items only. As I got in front of them for the photo, Geoff Downes says, “Cool jacket, but I don’t know any of those bands except for Judas Priest.” Jon Davison stated that he loves their metalhead fans.
I was near the end of the line and when we got to the signing part, I was going to have them signed the poster given to us as part of the VIP swag and have Howe, Downes and White sign my Drama CD. All of the guys were very laid back and signed the poster. Everyone got to spend a few moments at the table. When I got to the 3 that were on Drama, I mentioned to Steve and Geoff that I had seen their Asia reunion show a few years back and that I had the CD cover with me. Steve said, “That was a fun tour. Where’s the cover?” I mentioned the 2 item limit and he smiled and just said, “I’m running this show right now, let me have it.” haha. Sweet! I finally got in my truck at 12:15AM for the 75 mile drive home.
I liked how the show was set up with two bands both playing full 90 minute sets. If Yes comes around again, I’ll go for sure.