Yes – Evening Sunburst 1998 (Highland HL257/258/259/260)

Evening Sunburst 1998 (Highland HL257/258/259/260)

Shibuya Kohkaido, Tokyo, Japan – October 8th & 9th, 1998

When Yes released Open Your Eyes in November 1997 they toured for almost a solid year with very little breaks between the various legs.  The final five dates were in Japan opening with two, on October 8th and October 9th, in Tokyo.  These were Yes’ first gigs in Japan since the end of the Talk tour four years before and the first time they played the Shibuya Kohkaido since 1973.  When the tour began on October 17th, 1997 in Hartford, Connecticut the setlist was very ambitious with the expected hits including two from the Trevor Rabin era, solo sections for all the members, “The Revealing Science Of God,” three songs from the new album and even “Children Of Light” from Keys To Ascension II.  “No Way We Can Lose” was dropped after the first night (and played only one more time the following July), and by the time they came to Japan both “From The Balcony” and “Children Of Light” disappeared.  

The sets they played in Japan aren’t exactly stripped back (the two Tokyo shows are both over two hours long), but it seems they lost faith in the newer material after the album failed to sell and the show reverted into a greatest hits revue.  It is a shame they didn’t work the new songs more since, despite the critics, there were many good ideas which could have taken new life on stage.  Regardless, after these five shows Yes would meet up again in Vancouver to work on the brilliant The Ladder album and tour.  Evening Sunburst 1998on Highland collects two excellent quality DAT recordings from the opening night.  This is one of several releases from this tour and one of the better ones in terms of sound quality, performance, and relevance.  It is packaged in a standard four disc fatboy jewel case with effective artwork and photos of all six band members in action.

Disc 1 (73:23):  Opening – excerpt from “Firebird Suite”, Siberian Khatru, Rhythm Of Love, Yours is No Disgrace, Open Your Eyes, And You And I, Heart Of The Sunrise, Mood For A Day, Second Initial

Disc 2 (68:15):  Clap, Aka-Tombo, Wondrous Stories, keyboard solo, Long Distance Runaround, The Fish (including Tempus Fugit, Ritual, Sound Chaser), Owner Of A Lonely Heart, Close To The Edge, I’ve Seen All Good People, Roundabout

The first two discs cover the opening show on October 8th in an excellent stereo audience recording. This was the first show since the North American tour ended on August 8th in West Palm Beach in Florida and the rust and nerves show.  The Open Your Eyesambient track wasn’t played over the PA before the show but only the “Firebird Suite” opening.  “Siberian Khatru” and “Rhythm Of Love” both drag, but Steve Howe injects some energy into the show during his solo in the thirteen minute “Yours Is No Disgrace.”

Jon Anderson goes into a long introduction afterwards, saying, “I’d like to take this opportunity to introduce to you a new member of the group….what are the chords to the chorus?  Where’s he gone?  ‘D’?  Wow, that’s very loud.  Can you hear this?  ‘A’  Turn it down a bit, I can’t hear you…I’d like to introduce you to a guy who’s been working with the band for the last four years, doing production and writing songs with us.  He’s a great guy.  He’s all the way from Las Vegas.  He’s a real gambler, Mr. Billy Sherwood.  Oh sorry, it’s not working, my guitar is not working, so i can’t do the solo bit.  Here’s a song Billy wrote with Chris and then we all joined in and it became a song that you might have heard on the radio quite a lot.  The chords to the chorus are, what is it?  ‘D’, ‘G’, ‘C’, ‘A’, ‘D’…”  They play the title track with  great urgency and it comes across very well onstage.

“And You And I” begins as it does on Close To The Edge but Anderson forgets a verse in the beginning and waits a few measures before starting again.  The rest of the song follows without a hitch.  Howe has his section of the show beginning with “Mood For A Day” and “Second Initial” (the liner notes erroneously call this “Sketches In The Sun.”)  Before concluding he says, “Thank you very much! It’s great to be back in Japan, great to be back in Tokyo tonight…  I’m going to wrap up my little spot here now with my old faithful.  I hope you’re wanting to hear it again. I’m still trying to get this right, it’s called ‘Clap’!”

Jon follows by singing the traditional Japanese folk song “Akatombo” (“Red Dragonfly”).  He couldn’t memorize the words so he sings it having it played on a tape on a small tape recorder.  The audience sing along before the band starts “Wondrous Stories.”  Igor Koroshev plays a two minute long solo as a prelude to “Long Distance Runaround” in which, reviewers say, Howe wore a big Mexican sombrero.  Chris Squire and Alan White play “Whitefish” for ten minutes with references to “The Fish,” “Ritual,” “Tempus Fugit” and “Sound Chaser.”  “Owner Of A Lonely Heart” is played in the extended fashion as on the Union tour with Koroshev taking Wakeman’s solo in the coda.  “Close To The Edge” replaced “The Revealing Science Of God” as the set closing epic in June.  Before the encores Anderson says, “we’d like you to sing along please if you can remember the words.  If you don’t know the words, just hum.”  Squire quips, “do you remember the words?”  “I hope so.  It’s been a tricky night” Anderson replies before “I’ve Seen All Good People.”  “Roundabout,” the final encore, is played in shortened form with a short “Tour Song” reference to Tokyo at the very end.   

Disc 3 (73:16):  Opening – excerpt from “Firebird Suite”, Siberian Khatru, Rhythm Of Love, Yours is No Disgrace, Open Your Eyes, And You And I, Heart Of The Sunrise, Arada, Mood For A Day, Sketches In The Sun

Disc 4 (71:04):  Clap, Aka-Tombo, Wondrous Stories, keyboard solo, Long Distance Runaround, The Fish (including Tempus Fugit, Ritual, Sound Chaser), Owner Of A Lonely Heart, Close To The Edge, I’ve Seen All Good People, Roundabout

The second show in Tokyo starts off with the Open Yours Eyes ambient track but only a snippet is audible right at the beginning of the “Firebird Suite” opening.  The tape for this night is louder but contains upper end distortion in the very loud parts and has a slight bias towards the right channel.  It is the only slight flaw in what is otherwise a great recording of the superior second night.

Yes didn’t change the setlists for any of the dates in Japan.  The only differences can be found in the solo spots and in the performances within the group tracks.  “Siberian Khatru” again sounds a bit slow, but “Yours Is No Disgrace” sounds even better than the previous evening with Howe injecting much energy into his long solo.  Anderson gets into his normal introduction of Billy Sherwood before “Open Your Eyes,” again the only song from the new album actually played.  Before “Heart Of The Sunrise” he talks about their first shows in Japan, “we played here twenty-five years ago and I know we did this next song.  Actually I was, I think, over here…I was right in the middle…”  

Howe, the “maestro of the guitar” plays a bit of “Arada” as an introduction to “Mood For A Day” (which Highland mistakenly calls “Surface Tension”) and then plays “Sketches In The Sun” (Highland mistakenly calls this “Second Initial”).  Afterwards Howe says how he wrote “Mood For A Day” for his wife and then proceeds with “Clap,” “something I always play.”  Anderson comes onstage for his “big moment” to sing “Akatombo” which fares much better this night after the first night’s onstage “rehearsal.”  Something really strange happens next.  There is a lamb bleat and a chicken squawking.  Anderson says, “Is that a chicken?  That was a chicken!   Okay, the killing of a chicken.”  Howe chimes in “you said one chicken.”  Without the visuals it is difficult to follow what is occurring on stage, but the then play “Wondrous Stories.”    

Koroshev plays a different solo than the first night, the same solo he played on the fall 1997 tour.  Alan White dominates Squire during the Whitefish segment and its tremendously exciting to hear.  Before the encores a cow is heard lowing and he chicken makes a reappearance!   Strange noises can be heard throughout the “Your Move” section of “I’ve Seen All Good People” over the PA.  And like the first night “Roundabout” omits the middle section but has the short tour song for Tokyo at the very end.  Evening Sunburst 1998 is the final Highland release of the well documented Open Your Eyes tour and is a great release to have, especially since it is the only silver pressed tapes from the tour of Japan available. 

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