In The Presence Of America (Audio Pubisher AP-003/004)
Tweeter Center, Camden, NJ – August 8th, 2002
Disc 1 (79:54): Firebird Suite, Siberian Khatru, America, In The Presence Of, We Have Heaven, South Side Of The Sky, The Revealing Science Of God, Leaves Of Green, The Little Galliard, Tour Song, Show Me
Disc 2 (79:55): Wakeman Solo/Wondrous Stories/And You And I, Heart Of The Sunrise, Magnification, Don’t Kill The Whale, Whitefish, Awaken, Roundabout, Yours Is No Disgrace
Philadelphia has always had a special relationship to Yes since the beginning of their career. And it was nowhere near proven when Yes visited the region on the Full Circle tour in the summer of 2002. With the “classic” lineup touring for the first time together in twenty-five years, August 8th was proclaimed “Yes” day. Mayor John Street of Philadelphia read the proclamation on August 7th with the band members present and each received a miniature replica of the Liberty Bell. Yes were being honored for having sold out more shows than any other act in the city’s history.
They were given a tour of City Hall and appeared on WPHT with Michael Smerconish, speaking about their career, their music, and even speaking to my wife who called in. On Yes day they played their Philly show across the river at the Tweeter Center in Camden, New Jersey. The venue sits right on the water with a breathtaking view of the Philly skyline. The concert was videotaped and professionally recorded. In The Presence Of America on Audio Publisher was released about six weeks after the show and is sourced from a very good to excellent video soundtrack except for “tour song” on disc one, which is sourced from an excellent audience tape.
Camden is one of the few shows from Full Circle to be pressed on silver and is without a doubt the most deserving. The love with the region has for the band, and visa versa, was palpable being there in person and is apparent in this recording as well. The opening song “Siberian Khatru” does start off a bit slow, but the festivities begin afterwards when Jon Anderson speaks to the audience, saying: “Thank you so much. It’s great to be with you evening. Thanks for coming along this evening you people. This beautiful, this wonderful Philadelphia, yeah and, you know, and this side as well. Okay. You know. We’ve been traveling around America in cars we decided not to do the airport thing. So we’ve been seeing more and more of this beautiful country. It is an amazing country. It is a exceptional people. Here’s a song from Paul Simon that says it all okay?”
The performance of this piece raises the energy level in the venue especially when Anderson sings about the New Jersey Turnpike. “In The Presence Of” is played early in the set. Anderson describes the song being about, “an amazing energy that surrounds us and we sorta lock into it now and again and we feel so good and we don’t know why. We don’t know where it comes from. But we know it makes us feel really good. The song is about locking into it as many times as you can.” What is remarkable is how Wakeman is able to duplicate the intricate orchestra arrangements accurately on the keyboards.
Anderson speaks about touring the city afterwards, mentioning how he met “some council people … a judge, a radio dude and the mayor and their all great people. Philadelphia, you’ve got great people taking care of business and..uh it was a great day for us.” The addition of “We Have Heaven” and “South Side Of The Sky” which follow was the big news going into the tour. Although the song was attempted several times in the seventies, never before had it been duplicated on stage as a regular part of the set.
“The Revealing Science Of God” is the first big epic played that night. It includes the special introduction found on the 2003 remaster and, except for Anderson coming a bit too early in one of the verses, is pitch perfect. The first half of the set ends with Steve Howe’s acoustic spot. Instead of “Clap” or “Mood For A Day,” he plays “Leaves Of Green” from “The Ancient” and “Little Gallard.” It is a refreshing change to hear him play other pieces.
Anderson doodles a tour song for the beginning of the second half before speaking about “Show Me,” his solo composition which he says is: “I’ve been doing some songs in the, in the garage of my studio and..uh I just say..gotta say one thing. Love is everything. Love is not domineering. Love is giving. Love is so powerful. Me and my honey Janey she’s here. We walk around every town, city we go to. Today we were walked around Philly. Just amazing just walking around and having a good time. So this is a song for my love. My soul mate. I just..uh sorta wrote it a couple of months ago. I’m still, still writing this song song I hope you enjoy it.”
Rick Wakeman’s solo spot begins with “Six Wives Of Henry VIIIth” before segueing into “Wondrous Stories” and “And You And I” in an arrangement from his solo tours in the nineties. Anderson joins in for the latter song and when they are done Chris Squire shouts: “Jon and Rick together again in Philadelphia.”
“Don’t Kill The Whale” was another addition to the set list, a song that hadn’t been played live since the Tormato tour. Squire introduces his solo spot by saying, “that was a song about mammals and here’s a song about a fish.” “The Fish” goes through “Tempus Fugit” and “Sound Chaser,” some of his more prolific bass moments in the Yes catalogue. “Awaken” closes the set and for some reason sounds very slow and uninspired. This is a very long show and it makes one wonder if they were running out of steam at this point. The encores are strong however and especially “Yours Is No Disgrace” displays some of the fire from the early days.
Having the professionally shot video is also recommended. Connecting the visuals to the music always helps in it apprecation. The video hasn’t been pressed on silver, but was issued as a bonus DVDR that came with the first copies of Mike’s Mint (Virtuoso 006/007) in 2007 titled Multi-Camera Spectacular. It is no longer available but is worth hunting down. In The Presence Of America is packaged in a double slimline jewel case and duplicates a newspaper review of the show. AP also has a picture of the band c1998 with Koroshev and Sherwood on the inside. Despite this little oversight, this is an excellent release all around of what is a latter day legendary Yesshow.If you liked this review, buy me a cup of joe. (Suggested: $3 a shot or $7.5 for a double)