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Siberian Khatru February 18, 2010

Posted by Amir Roth in education, family, music.
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I was the YES concert at the Warner Theatre in Washington, DC on Monday night. Row B. About 15 feet from Chris Squire. 12 feet from Chris Squire’s gut. And only 8 feet from the speakers. Oy, my ears! It’s been two days and there is still a low-grade ringing! Also, I had the flu and on the drive down could hardly bend my fingers around the steering wheel. But ears and flu aside, it was amazing.

Despite collectively being 180+ years old, Squire, Steve Howe, and Alan White absolutely wailed. White did a 5 minute drum solo in the middle of Astral Traveler. Howe (one of the most underappreciated guitarists in rock history) was ridiculous. I spent half the night just watching his fingers. The other half I spent watching his face. He looks like the Crypt Keeper. And this is actually less freaky than he looked when he was younger. Squire rocked too although at times I thought he was bass-syncing. The three original members certainly out-wailed the two younger “replacements.” For this tour (or maybe even permanently), Rick Wakeman was replaced by his son Oliver. Or maybe a time machine brought circa-1980 Rick to the present. Either way, except for Siberian Khatru (one of my favorites) and Astral Traveler (another) he wasn’t featured prominently. Jon Anderson was replaced by a French Canadian named Benoit David who was separated at birth from Peter Scolari and who doesn’t sing at the nearly-female register that Anderson did. A quick Google search performed seconds ago shows that Benoit is the lead singer of a YES tribute band called Close To The Edge. Hmmm. If I were to form a YES tribute band, and I would if not for my lack of musical talent, it would be called MAYBE. Actually, I don’t need to form my own YES tribute band of my own, Close To The Edge must be looking for a frontman. Call me, guys! I know the words! Mostly.

The audience was as ridiculous as the band. I had floor tickets for a Violent Femmes concert once. I was also on the floor at a Bowie concert. OK, so this wasn’t like either of those. But it was pretty wild considering I must have been one of the ten youngest people there. The median hair color at the concert was gray. Going in, there were multiple faces I recognized. I am not from Washington and I am not a YES groupie despite what you might think from this post. One of them may have been Eric Bach, a professor at the University of Wisconsin (Eric, was that you?) But the others must have been politicians or other national figures. Steven Chu? Rahm Emmanuel? Who knows! There was a 50 year old behind me who screamed “WE LOVE YOU!” after every song and sometimes within songs. YES songs are long. Behind him was a 90 year old guy in a wheelchair with his two 70 year old sons. The sons knew the words to every song. The guy on my left was wearing a YES hat, a YES tie, had a YES license plate with Bill Bruford’s signature on it and watched most of the concert with is eyes closed. During the encore a bunch of 50 year old women rushed the stage. One of them may have been Michelle Bachman.

But the most amazing thing about the concert was that my little brother got us the tickets. When I said to him “I didn’t know you liked YES” he said “I have YES on the brain from growing up with you.” Not that you read this blog, E, but I love ya. Oh, and thanks for letting me crash on Monday night.

P.S. While on the subject of Washington, DC … happy birthday American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. What would we have ever done without you? Maybe things would have been much worse. Possibly. Maybe things would have been the same. Possibly. Maybe things would have been better. Not likely. At any rate, you are now just a political football and a $862 billion check my kids will pick up. Cheers!

P.P.S. Great article about teachers in this month’s Atlantic. Actually, most Atlantic articles are great. This is just the only one I’ve read from this month’s issue.

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