Ladders On The Strip (Highland HL454/455/456)
House Of Blues, Las Vegas, NV – October 31st, 1999
Disc 1 (44:26): Firebird Suite, Yours Is No Disgrace, Time And A Word, Homeworld, Perpetual Change, Lightning Strikes
Disc 2 (52:51): The Messenger, Nous Sommes Du Soleil, And You And I, Close To The Edge, It Will Be A Good Day, Face To Face
Disc 3 (54:23): Hearts, Awaken, I’ve Seen All Good People, Cinema, Owner Of A Lonely Heart, Roundabout / Las Vegas Jam
Two weeks into their tour for The Ladder is when Yes filmed and recorded what is supposed to be the ultimate and definitive souvenir of this particular tour. The venue is the 1,000 capacity House Of Blues in Las Vegas on Halloween night. The resultant House of Yes: Live from House of Blues CD, DVD and VHS were issued about a year later and contained a good show from the tour. Ladders On The Strip on Highland was actually issued before the official releases and is sourced from an excellent, well balanced and eminently enjoyable soundboard recording. Allmusic complains that the official offering “in many places the CD feels very over-produced, losing much of its live texture.”
Highland sounds a bit more raw and complete since it has the two songs, “Close To The Edge” and “Hearts,” that were omitted. There is a very harsh cut in “It Will Be A Good Day” at the very end, and a very abrupt and sloppy edit into “Face To Face.” There is also a small cut between “Hearts” and “Awaken.”
The recording starts off with the Firebird suite leading into an extended reversion of “Yours Is No Disgrace” where Steve how expands the guitar solo for several minutes. “Time And A Word” unfortunately a short, one minute snippet used as an introduction for “Homeworld,” the opening cut from the new album and the song closest to the classic Yes sound. “Perpetual Change” follows continuing the trend in the first hour of the show in alternating songs from The Yes Album to The Ladder. Perhaps this is not done consciously, but the juxtaposition is interesting by associating their first classic progressive album with their latest release.
Jon Anderson has great fun introducing “Lightening Strikes,” saying: “As we travel around America singing these songs. It’s great fun I gotta say. Thank you all for coming this evening very special. Thank you. Want to hear a samba. It’s a samba. Oh there it is!” as the pre-recorded tape from the album brings them into one of the best of the new songs. It not exactly lighthearted, but has an optimism that is infectious. Afterwards he tells the story of “The Messenger,” which was encouraged by the producer Bruce Fairbairn “who’s now in heaven” and is written for Bob Marley who influenced his life.
“Nouse Sommes Du Soleil” is a short snippet serving as an introduction to “And You And I,” the perennial stage piece. Yes attempts “Close To The Edge” for the seventh and final time. Perhaps they wanted to included one of the old epics in the video and live album, but the piece falls apart during the “I Get Up I Get Down” section and in general sounds limp and uninspired. Yes would resurrect the piece with much better success for the Masterworks and Symphonic tours.
Anderson dedicates “It Will Be A Good Day” to “my beautiful wife Jane” and, followed by “Face To Face” are the last two new songs played in the set. “Hearts” fits in very well and Billy Sherwood, whose contributions were very subtle to non-existent, is given a chance, filling in Trevor Rabin’s spot. “Awaken,” with attendant confetti, is the set closer. The encores resurrect “Cinema,” again lead by Sherwood, as an introduction to “Owner Of A Lonely Heart.” An edited version of “Roundabout” leading into an impromptu “Las Vegas Jam” closes the event. Packaged in a fatboy jewel case, the artwork reflect the era very well and has photographs from the tour. With so few documents on silver from this tour, any one with good sound quality is worth having and Ladders On The Strip is a fantastic release.If you liked this review, buy me a cup of joe. (Suggested: $3 a shot or $7.5 for a double)