Yes Magic (Highland HL134/135#Y23)
Universal Amphitheatre, Los Angeles, CA – December 7th, 1997
Disc 1 (44:47): Opening – Siberian Khatru, Rhythm Of Love, America, Open Your Eyes, And You And I
Disc 2 (40:32): Heart Of The Sunrise, From The Balcony, Children Of Light, Owner Of A Lonely Heart, I’ve Seen All Good People, Roundabout
Yes had been on the road for the better part of two months by the time they played Los Angeles on December 7th. The Open Your Eyes tour was the first in several years since Talk in 1994 and the first after the debacle the previous year. Yes Magic comes from a radio broadcast which was broadcast on January 10th, 1998. The sound quality is excellent.
The only negative is much of the show was edited for broadcast. Missing from the tape are Steve Howe’s solo set with “Valley Of Rocks,” “Masquerade” and “Clap.” Igor Khoroshev’s keyboard solo and “Long Distance Runaround,” Chris Squire’s and Alan White’s “Whitefish,” “The Revealing Science Of God” and the final encore “Starship Trooper” are also eliminated.
While the cuts are understandable for radio broadcast, they are tragic because this is a phenomenal show. The band are loose and Jon Anderson is in a chatty mood. The tape starts at the very close of the “Firebird Suite” taped intro. “Siberian Khatru” opens the show. Koroshev makes sure to use the harpsichord sound in his keyboard solo. “Rhythm Of Love” follows. Only their two 1980s hits are played from the Rabin years. The final Rabin-lead album Talk is completely ignored.
“It’s great to be with you here in LA. Thanks for coming out” Anderson tells the audience. “We’ve been traveling around America. North America, South America, Central America. America will find itself in the 21st Century very shortly and we’re going to keep touring until then. Just keep going. Here’s a great song from Paul Simon all about America.” This cover was resurrected for the San Luis Obispo shows the previous year. They play the shorter arrangement and Koroshev adds a little jazzy melody to the instrumental.
“Open Your Eyes” is an excellent song but this and “From The Balcony” are the only songs played from the new album. They deliver a nice version of the new single and afterwards Anderson jokes: “As you can see we are practicing the Beatle bow.” He then tells the long story about how “And You And I” was recorded back in 1972. “It was many years ago, it was a Tuesday, No, it was Thursday afternoon. It’s four o’clock. It’s time for tea. We’ve been rehearsing the next song for about ten minutes.
“We were tired, exhausted and we needed some magical mint tea and Eddie Offord, our great engineer at that time, was getting..uh things ready as engineers do. They’re rolling their tapes and stuff like that get everything. So this song really changed my life or was it for the tea? It’s was a combination. Anyway, we were all quiet. It was Thursday afternoon in London and I heard in the corner of the studio some harmonic sounds and I said ‘I can’t hear anything’. Oh, there it is. I said ‘Eddie quick, start recording now’ So this is how it finished up.”
“Heart Of The Sunrise” follows. They have a very long pause after the opening instrumental which builds a tremendous amount of tension before it’s released. It is a simple but effective trick unique to this tour.
The broadcast continues with “Children Of Light,” a surprise addition. For a long time this was the only studio recording from the Keys To Ascension albums to be played live. It’s inclusion establishes that they were promoting those albums in addition to Open Your Eyes. The expected hits close the broadcast: “Owner Of A Lonely Heart,” “I’ve Seen All Good People” and “Roundabout.”
Yes Magic was an early release on Highland and one of the first contemporary recordings issued by the label. Having the complete show in this quality would mark this as the definitive Open Your Eyes show. As it is, it’s a good document to have. It is packaged in a double slimline jewel case with era photos on the artwork.If you liked this review, buy me a cup of joe. (Suggested: $3 a shot or $7.5 for a double)