Updated: Sep 4
I'm writing this blog with a personal twist, not being strictley a music review but instead also about an experience I had on my way to a gig. It told me that we all need to be way more aware of our surroundings. Too many people walk the streets looking down at their phone.
As I sit with my feet soaking in a tub, from blisters occurring from running unexpectedly in inappropriate footwear. Sitting and reflecting on an eye opening experience that I have most definitely have learned from.
So, I'm not great with directions. OK, truth be known...I'm downright directionally challenged. Its horribly debilitating at times...this was one of those times. Directions to places...I thought thats what GPS was for, but last night, either my GPS was stoned or perhaps I misunderstood how my GPS was directing me. Sadly the latter may be closer to the truth.
I was on my way to The Warfield to see and photograph YES, on Market Street, in San Francisco. I guess my first clue that something wasn't right was that there were several parking spaces available on this one street as I drove around and around the general neighborhood searching for somewhere to park. I parked my car, got out and within a few feet, I felt an unease with my surroundings yet not bad enough to get back in my car and search around for another space. Thinking that the venue was just around the corner and I had found a convenient spot, I left my car and set off to the venue with 30 minutes to spare before the start of the show.
As I walked, my surroundings got more and more unfamiliar. And crowds were on the sidewalks everywhere. Crowds of what seemed to be homeless people that were inebriated and things weren't feeling good. There was the strong smell of urine flowing through the air. Actually the situation at this point in time got bloody scary! I started to walk through these crowded sidewalks, weaving through people, still thinking the venue was just round the bend. The more I walked, the thicker the crowds of what seemed to be drug addicts, drunks and homeless grew. Having my camera bag with me, and being a women...and blonde...did not help me in my safety zone. It was clear to me, I was in a very unsafe area for a women holding a camera, and started to run. I ran through the crowds, being grabbed, prodded and spoken to in a threatening manner. At this point I started fearing for my life. Whilst weaving through the people, one guy grabbed my camera bag strap, another grabbed my arm, and there were even a couple of ass grabbers, whilst another was shouting a sex act that he would like to do to me. Though I must admit...thank fuck there were no 'pussy grabbers'!
Whilst I'm weaving through the crowded sidewalks, not one groper got a tight enough grip of me or my bag, enough to hold onto, and as I was a moving target, that was definitely working in my favor. Ahead, I saw what looked like Market Street, (a shopping district full of people and lights). I ran towards it. This is where this starts to sound like a movie...so I'm running down these streets filled with junkies, drunks, and harassers. When I got to about a block before Market Street I heard what sounded like gun shots behind me, about 8 or 10 of them. I kept running (away from the shots, duh), and everyone I passed around me on the streets stopped and turned around to see where there coming from. They sounded like a block or two away. The area from which I had come. Like an action film!
So I'm running and running and I must have overshot The Warfield and run another mile or two up Market. Stopping occasionally to ask if anyone knew where the Warfield was. I must have asked between 15-20 people...no one knew.
All this time I'm looking at my GPS trying to figure out which way its telling me to go, re-routing constantly. When I had turned around and ran in the opposite direction, about a mile ahead was where I stopped and asked yet another person where the Warfield was, finally I got an answer that was music to my ears, "its right up there, a half block up," in front of me.
Hallelujah! The Warfield at last! I got to the will call table, sweating (it was 100f) and in tears, so releived I had made it. And I made it with two minutes to spare. I had been running for 30 minutes. I told the guys at will call why I am so emotional, they asked whereabouts I think I left my car, when I told them, possibly around Turk and Leavenworth or somewhere around there. They told me that area is "The hell of hell"...they suggested I go get a drink as soon as possible, even gave me a drink ticket to make sure I did so, to calm my nerves. And then told me that they would be personally making sure I get back to my car safely. I went straight in, the band entered, I shot my two songs and went to the bar for a glass of vodka. Some people I knew, recognized me, and hugged me until the trembling stopped or until the vodka was working. I then tried to forget about my experience and enjoy the show. And I did. Living in the moment!
The 6 peice band walked on and began with "Survival", then into a beautiful "Time and a Word", "Yours is no Disgrace", "You and I" followed by 9 more YES songs. Considering the average Yes song is longer than a Beatles or a punk tune. 13 songs were pretty filling. That night the music was beautifully orchestrated and expertly carried out. These were such seasoned fine tuned musicians. Steve Howe was a masterpiece. After ten songs, they left the stage to come back with, "Madrigal", "Roundabout" and "Starship" for the encore. The audience was ecstatic. There were many empty seats in the venue. But the people who were there, fully enjoyed the huge sound of YES.
Jon Davison, the lead singer, replacing Jon Anderson sounded very much like the original. I had seen this lineup 6 years ago at The Wells Fargo Center in Santa Rosa, and wasn't impressed, due to the lead singer replacing Anderson. He told me after the show that he was either brand new back then or perhaps it was the French Canadian Jon Anderson replacement before him that I saw. If he was new, it may have been the reason that I thought there was no feeling behind the lyrics he was singing. Six years later, Davison has had several years to get used to the music, he was much better this time around. Truth be told...I thought that I was seeing the YES that I hadn't seen before, the version with the original lead, Jon Anderson. Although I was surprised, I wasn't disappointed in the music.
The show was great. Started exactly at 8.30 and they played for 90 minutes. This is one of the two versions of YES. Sadly, the band split in two, one with Jon Anderson, and this one.
After the show, my friends and I went backstage, got to meet the band. Steve Howe, uses Sfarzo Guitar strings. Greg Sfarzo and his wife were the people who I knew at the show. It was an honor meeting Howe, and Geoff Downes (keys), Alan White (drums), Dylan Howe (Steves' son) drums, and Jon Davison (lead vocals). Next time I see Yes, I'd like to see the other version and compare.
An interesting fact of this split is, only one of them are allowed to use Roger Deans familiar logo, and its not Jon Andersons' Yes, its Steve Howes' Yes that is allowed to use it. Very strange that there are now two bands both playing the same music, both calling themselves Yes.
...............Why can't they all just get along?
© Cheryl Alterman Photography 2017