Ultimate Reunion (Highland HL217/218)
Jones Beach Amphitheatre, Wantagh, NY – July 21st, 1991
Disc 1 (65:10): Firebird Suite, Yours Is No Disgrace, Rhythm Of Love, Shock To The System, Heart Of The Sunrise, Clap, Make It Easy/Owner Of A Lonely Heart, And You And I
Disc 2 (72:58): I’ve Seen All Good People, Solly’s Beard, Saving My Heart/Whitefish/Amazing Grace, Lift Me Up, Wakeman Solo, Awaken, Roundabout
Ultimate Reunion utilizes an excellent stereo audience recording for most of Yes’ Jones Beach show. Coming in the middle of the second US tour this year, this is two weeks before their final US Union show and one of the last ones overall. Playing in the amphitheater at Jones Beach means this is one of the very few shows not played in the round. The taper was in a good position to capture the show with very minimal hiss, little audience noise but with small cuts after “Heart Of The Sunrise,” “I’ve Seen All Good People,” Wakeman’s solo and “Awaken.” There is an unfortunate cut after “And You And I ” which eliminates Tony Kaye’s solo spot and “Changes.” There are versions of the tape now floating around that are complete now but the label may not have had access to them at the time.
“Firebird Suite” leads into “Yours Is No Disgrace” where again Howe and Rabin trade guitar solos with it being unclear who the winner is. Howe misses the cue for the return to the final theme at the end but recovers nicely before there are any major breakdowns in the song. “Rhythm Of Love” follows, the first Rabin era Yessong of the set. Afterwards Jon Anderson exhorts the Long Island audience to “Loosen up a bit…Sunday night by the ocean.” He goes on to dedicate the show “to the white whale…travels about a hundred miles all the way up to Canada, all the way around the world.” Anderson is of course speaking about Migaloo, the white humped back whale first spotted off the coast of Australia in 1991 and made many headlines and is still seen migrating the oceans today.
Steve Howe is given the honor of having the first solo section in the setlist. Anderson introduces “Clap” as “one of the first songs that we put together many years ago down in Devon,” referring to the sessions that produced The Yes Album. “We went down to Devon to write an album. This guy was with us.” Howe plays “Clap” with an “On Wings Of Gold” interlude that he introduced into the piece on the old Relayer tours and which he recorded in 1989 for his Guitar Player album.
Jon Anderson continues his allusions to Migaloo before “And You And I,” saying, “C’mon who saw the white whale on TV? Isn’t that beautiful. The white whale sailing around the world. Isn’t life wonderful really. Screw the other stuff. White whale. It’s true.” The performance of the Close To The Edge classic follows from the ABWH shows with the original acoustic introduction.
The recording picks up with Anderson getting the audience ready to sing, saying “Jones Beach. This will be known as the Jones Beach sing along contest. Or something like that. We want you to sing along with this song. Very important. We’re recording tonight as always, Jones Beach, so we’re gonna kick off in the key of E.” This is the normal introduction before “I’ve Seen All Good People.” Trevor Rabin has his solo “Solly’s Beard” afterwards. It is an interesting piece since Rabin is playing dueling banjos by himself. “Saving My Heart,” one of Rabin’s best songs in the Union project, is followed by Chris Squire and Alan White’s number “Whitefish” which ends with Anderson joining in for “Amazing Grace.”
Anderson introduces Rick Wakeman’s solo spot by saying, “There’s one guy who puts so much humor in the band. Crazy humor. Really crazy humor. Keeps us all in touch I think. He’s also the wizard of the keyboards.” The solo begins with The Six Wives Of Henry VIII before segueing into themes from Journey To The Centre Of Earth and other numbers. Rabin and White join in to add to the fun. The set ends with “Awaken,” and song that never sounded lovelier than on the Union tour although Steve Howe sound rather tired during the opening sections. “Roundabout” is the only encore. Union boots on Highland are frustrating lot since it’s hard to find them complete for some reason. The sound quality and performance would have made Ultimate Reunion a must have, but missing “Changes” when the tape is complete is inexcusable. It is however a commendable effort and is packaged as well as this label is able.
It would be nice to see Virtuoso issue some Union shows on silver. A definitive version of this show could be a good start.