The Palladium in Carmel is undoubtedly the best sounding live music hall in the region, just a beautiful place to see live music. Kansas, who played there last Friday, seemed like a perfect fit to the hall. Bombastic pomp rock fits in very here. Yeah, songs like "Point of No Return" and "Hold On" sounded good, but for whatever reason Kansas seemed overwhelmed by their environment and put on a show that was a bit stiff and lifeless.
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Sure, there were some bright spots including a glorious "Song For America" and a thunderous "Carry On Wayward Son." but the band, which included original vocalist Steve Walsh, never truly took flight resulting in a dull listless show. You know a band is having a bad day then the opening band is more memorable. Brooklyn's Arc & Stones opened and thanks to their little lead singer who did his best to be, act and sound like Chris Cornell, right down to the mandatory Jesus Christ pose every 2 seconds, scared the old people a little. The rest of the band looked and sounded like wholesome christian rockers. The music was, of course, horrid. The crowd politely endured the spectacle with the same air as if they were watching a really bad special needs Christmas pageant.
It will be interesting to see how Diana Ross, an artist who is as dazzling as the building, handles her self. My guess is it's gonna be the show of the year.
Three nights later, Yes was at the Old National and I decided to keep the prog-rock train a-rolling. This time, Yes was in control of their shit and pulled out a masterful performance that truly honored the band's classic output. Kicking off with the classic prog-rock milestone Close to the Edge, the band started to hit on all cylinders by the time "Siberian Khatru" came along.
The band was awesome, lead by a group of Yes veterans. Guitarist Steve Howe had no trouble reeling off a rich tapestry of the band's signature sound. "Yours is No Disgrace" and "The Clap" made the crowd jump for joy. Keyboardist Geoff Downes, drummer Alan White and Bassist Chris Squire were world-class throughout. Going For The One's "Awaken" really displayed the jaw-dropping skillz these old timers were effortlessly pulling out of their asses.
Squire looked like a Hindu bass god playing his three necked bass like it was a child's toy. Geoff Downes was always the best Yes keyboardist after Rick Wakeman, and his florid keyboard work kept the background moving, which help the rest of the band shine. Alan White tore the drum kit apart attacking the drums with the same force and agility as someone a third his age. And this stuff is really hard to play.
The unexpected hero of the night was the Lead Singer, Jon Davidson who cut his teeth in Sky Cries Mary back in the day. Davidson looked and sounded like a young Jon Anderson. But that's not what made him so good. No, it was an extreme air of confidence that enabled him to take charge of this legendary cast of players. Davidson has an angelic throat and a range that made even a daunting passage through "Starship Trooper" and "I've seen All Good People" look like a walk in the park.
He was a master percussionist with chimes and tambourines and more, more, more cowbell. He, too, was fond of the Jesus Christ pose, but from a more positive Wayne Coyne / Polyphonic Spree hippie dippie place. He had the crowd infused with such energy that they stayed on their feet for a good thrid of the show. I mean if you can get a roomful of mostly 50 & 60 year old men of means and privileges to stand and boogie and get down then you know you are putting on a damn fine show. It was a study in contrasts. Here was a young nobody who made grown men cry and dance and hug each other. While three nights before The singer whose voice graced three of classic rock's best songs barely kept himself from yawning. Incredible, just incredible.