Yes & Dream Theater @ Universal Amphitheater, Universal City CA 09/19/04
HOLY SHIT! Wow, if you had told me this was a co-headlining gig I would have believed you! DT received a deafening roar compared to the SD gig, and the applause and cheering in between songs was just as spirited. This was my 4th and final Dream Theater gig of the Train of Thought Tour (officially the Yes/DT Tour at this point) and second occasion seeing Yes.
If you guys aren’t familiar with the Universal Amphitheater, it’s a 6,200 seater in Universal Studios Hollywood. A very long line had already formed by 6:00pm, the frustrated theme park patrons had to cut through us in order to get to the parking structures and City Walk. The fans started to get antsy, 6:20 rolled around and we still hadn’t moved! A big jolly gentleman puffing on a cigar asked “Did you see them at the Pantages?” I said “Hell yes I did” He said he loved both bands but was there to see DT mainly. He was convinced I was there mainly for DT, “Because you’re a young guy” he said. He then told me about how he’d seen Yes back in ’71, and how he’d seen Zeppelin and Hendrix. My eyes were popping out of my head at that point. Very nice guy. I told him about the SD show and how long it ran. He said “Shit, if the show’s that long I’m gonna have to call in sick tomorrow!”
It was cool to see all the DT shirts around, especially from different eras. There were even a few Opeth shirts, a Jethro Tull shirt and good God, dare I say it — a CAFE TACUBA shirt!!! This young light skinned guy was wearing a Cafe Tacuba t-shirt! I tripped out. For those of you who don’t know, Cafe Tacuba was/is one of the pioneering musical forces behind world music and rock en espanol in the ’80s and ’90s. Not heavy music at all, hell it’s not even that rocking. But it’s still moody, intricate, and fun as hell. I complimented the guy, and said I’d never thought I’d see it here. All I got in response was a timid grunt. Okaaaaay. But anyway, the line finally started moving much to our relief. We divided up into four lines as we got near the main entrance for the required pat-down by security. First-timers were mumbling to themselves about the strict security measures. I kept quiet and selected a shy boy. I got through with flying colors and made my way to my seat. I got some kick ass tickets off ebay again, Loge 21, 4th row! And for only $40.00 too
The house was half full as DT opened. The response they got from these early birds was impressive to say the least, especially from the pit/orchestra area. We all rose to our feet and stayed standing the whole hour. Same set as San Diego. The guys were spot on! There were some complaints of JP missing some of his ques in San Diego, but he nailed everything perfectly, as did the other guys. Kudos goes to James for hitting those nut-squeezing notes perfectly. You could tell that the guys really appreciated the crowd response, and they fed off of the energy, especially JP and James. The house was becoming filled to capacity by the end of Learning to Live.
During Trial of Tears, some dude bumped into me as he was making his way to his seat. Normally things like that don’t bug me, but he was extremely apologetic, almost as if he feared an ass kicking. I don’t look menacing at all… But anyway, at the end of the song he passed by me again and apologized. I told him it was no problem. He then said he was going to the bar and offered to buy me a drink. I told him not to go to the trouble. He asked “are you sure?” I thought for a couple seconds and said “what the hell” I asked for a shot of Sauza Tequila, blanco. The dude came back with 2! I thanked him and patted him on the shoulder. What a nice guy! These were double shots! And I hadn’t eaten. Needless to say I was feeling quite at ease during the set.
There were quite a few fans in my section (sec 21) standing. The Yes fans sat politely, and studied our boys intently…trying to figure them out. Stream Of Consciousness was up next and many in the crowd clapped along in time to the guitar intro…then DT proceeded to bludgeon us with their brand of prog-metal At song’s end the Yes crowd was left awe-struck or baffled…or both! The guys were treated to applause worthy of a hometown gig crowd.
The rest of the set went down just as well, with good audience participation during Spirit Carries on and Solitary Shell. The guys closed the seat and were treated as heroes with a standing ovation. The guys gave hi-fives to the fans in the pit area and made sure to wave to every section of the house. The guys were all smiles, ear to ear…except for JM who kinda gave a forced smirk. These guys loved this gig, and I think it would be cool if they played this venue on their own strength. Screw the Wiltern.
Stravinsky’s Firebird Suite started playing at 9:00pm sharp. The crowd went apeshit. I was looking forward to this gig, given that the Roger Dean set would be used for sure, as well as the possibility that Close to the Edge or Starship Trooper would be played. Yes played the same exact set as San Diego, but Starship Trooper was played as the encore. I feared the crowd would riot if they didn’t.
Yes were just as good in San Diego, but Steve was having more fun this time around, playing with crowd, striking poses and tearing it up on the fretboard. He even got some laughs from the crowd during “And You And I” of all songs, playing the intro on the 12-string while staring out at the crowd, looking from left to right and blinking repeatedly in this sort of comical way. I wish I could better describe it…it was classic and you just had to be there. The crowd was having a good ol’ time too, some of the women especially LOL. But I have to say the most embarrassing fans to watch in a crowd are RUSH fans. Damn those people need to stop drinking. There even a couple younger fans running throughout the amphitheater during “I’ve Seen All Good People,” as if they were performing some kind of ritualistic dance. It was freaky, very reminiscent of Woodstock.
After DT’s sonic assault I was worried that Yes would put me to sleep. And the tequila shots with no food in my belly wasn’t helping, although the crowd was keeping me entertained. Southside of the Sky tore off the roof, especially that keys/guitar duel at the end. Damn I was impressed.
“And You And I” was the moment everyone was waiting for. As soon as the intro started, the crowd let out this collective gasp. It was a great 10 minutes, and it was surreal seeing most of the crowd stand and do the Jon thing…hands outstretched, rising and falling with the music. Wow. The closer for the night was “Starship Trooper.” It sounded just as grande and sweeping as the studio original. Jon’s vocals were impeccable.
A GREAT show, helluva lot better than SD. Jon even thanked DT at set’s end, of course there was the obligatory “Fuck Dream Theater” comment I heard from behind me.