Uncle G’s FUN Concert Memories
Spotlight: Yes – The Royal Affair Tour – Live From Las Vegas
Date: 26 July 2019
Venue: The Joint – Hard Rock Hotel and Casino
Location: Las Vegas, NV (USA)
Words and Photography by Gary “Uncle G” Brown
I’m dropped off by Lyft sometime after 3 PM, on the day of the concert. I decided it was easier to stay the night and then check out the next morning after breakfast. I check-in, put my backpack in my room, and then head to the hotel’s will call location, so to pick up my ticket.
I’m at the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino, in fabulous Las Vegas. I moved to Vegas in April of 2019. Three months later, and this would be my first time attending a concert in the lovely state of Nevada. The city of Las Vegas is said to be among the number one places in the United States, or for that fact the World, to see live entertainment. And here I am, going to find out first hand.
Just about everything that occurred on this day, played out really well. Not only did I see my favorite rock band Yes, do a fantastic show, but before their set, I witnessed some of the coolest acts from prog-rock, for this after all was a musical, Royal Affair. Music labeled art-rock when I was a young teen, back in the seventies. Was very popular with high school and college-age potheads. Several musicians toked as well, including I’m sure, those in Yes.
Under the colorful umbrella, The Royal Affair Tour, Yes projected a clever new way of presenting themselves to the ticket-buying public. An opportunity to see and hear them, plus other rock legends who made names for themselves in the world of progressive rock. Acts such as; Carl Palmer and his band which included Arthur Brown, John Lodge and his band, and Asia.
Before this evening, I saw Carl Palmer perform live, 4 times. Three of those were with Emerson,Lake, & Palmer, and then over a decade ago in Dallas Texas (27 April 2008) with the original Asia line-up.
This was my first time seeing both John Lodge of The Moody Blues, and before he hit the stage, Arthur Brown, who was ‘guest vocalist’ for Carl Palmer’s ELP Legacy. I enjoyed both performers, immensely.
My third time seeing Asia in concert. I admit to being a ‘Day One’ Asia fan. I purchased their debut album, the very day it was released, at a mall in Eatontown, New Jersey. The studio album with the cool wraparound artwork by Roger Dean might have cost about $5 or $6 bucks back then. I remember getting off an escalator with my then first wife Adele, and seeing it being displayed, and possibly on sale. I purchased it, rushed right home, and immediately played it on my home stereo. I had a good one too. All separate components. Fat ass speakers. I had a Pioneer turntable. My first listen to the whole album, and the song I was most impressed by; Time Again. Written by all four Asia members of the band, the tune is a solid rocker in which I still love playing loud, to this day.
Guess what? Artist Roger Dean was at this event as well! Just about every painting that I’ve ever seen from Mr. Dean, mesmerizes me in one way or another. I don’t know how else to say that. His art has that effect on people. I met and got my picture with the world-famous artist before the festivities even began. That was after meeting and having actual conversations with Arthur Brown (yeah…THAT Arthur Brown) and a guy who at one time played guitar for Guns & Roses, Ron “Bumblefoot” Thal (yeah…the one and only). Both men could not be any nicer to me. No pics or signatures and the fact is I never asked. But instead, and as busy as they each were, I got a few minutes, one on one, with each man, just shooting the bull. Thanks again, guys.
For myself, it was a natural high the whole evening. Well, almost, for I might have had a couple of beers. I got to see Arthur Brown sing his hit song; Fire. After that, John Lodge ROCKED! Then Ron “Bumblefoot” Thai helped carry the memory of John Wetton, as well as anyone, could have hoped for. It would be nice if we got a studio out of this exact Asia line-up, down the road, as a matter of fact. For those who know their Asia history, one with Greg Lake would have been unique. That never happened. Greg Lake and Geoff Downes did indeed work together. As they say; Google it. Back to Asia, Geoff carried the torch for a long time when no other original Asia member was involved. Steve and Carl made occasional guest appearances. My very first seeing Asia in concert, Chris Slade was the drummer. The band’s entire catalog is worth having.
Yes in Concert
The band opens with an obscure tune from their second album; No Opportunity Necessary, No Experience Needed. A Richie Havens song, the first out of three covers that the band will do that evening. The second being a Simon and Garfunkle number, America, and the third, a John Lennon classic; Imagine. Hearing the intro to this timeless classic, gave me goosebumps. What made this cover song jump out at the audience, was that long time drummer for Yes, Alan White, was behind the drum kit. The original drummer on the easily recognizable composition.
In an official Yes two-part question and answer with UK broadcaster Jon Kirkman, yours truly ends up being able to ask the drummer who played on John Lennon’s Imagine, Alan White, a question about performing the song in his lifetime, which kicks off a nice discussion about the making of Yes’ cover. Answered by several Yes members. And then Jon Kirkman also paraphrases some comments I made and even mentions that I live in Las Vegas now. All very cool, and nice of Jon to include me. The band had asked via social media (Facebook) for questions leading up to the interview. I sent, several. Is anyone reading this surprised? The main reason the Rock n’ Roll Hall of Fame inducted group was doing this question and answer session was to help promote something else I’m grateful for; a live album from this very performance. Cover art by Roger Dean. One song omitted; Gates Of Delirium. The closing song before the encores. Worth the price of admission, all by itself. Promised to us along with the rest of the Relayer album, in 2021, providing the COVID_19 pandemic has gone by the wayside. Let’s keep those sanitized fingers crossed.
A Couple Complaints
I’m in the second row, far right, directly in front of Steve Howe. I seriously lucked out as far as seat location goes. Only one seat in front of where I am sits a drunk who yells a tad too much showing appreciation for the band’s leader and guitar player. Almost comical yet over time the funny kind of wore off. Became kind of annoying. On my part, I kept my composure and didn’t start a riot. I was arrested once, basically for defending my then-wife, at a Tori Amos concert. Happened around the tail end of the 20th century. Charges were dismissed but it wasn’t a pleasant experience. Back to Yes, all the guys on stage were well aware of Steve’s ‘biggest fan’. I could have counter-acted some of that by yelling out other member’s names but decided I’d rather watch and listen to the performance than try to be a part of it.
Unpleasantry Number Two…a female security person who was on a serious power trip, downright accused me of recording audio. I’m there taking pictures with no flash, in which is allowed. Normally I’d message ahead, and get permission. And since I’m really more a writer, I usually bring a professional photographer with me. Not this night. The main purpose for this evening is really for me to chill and have FUN. Still, I’m taking photos to accompany a story, that I figured I might write one day. That is after all what I do. Anyway, I did speak out, and the sadly mistaken lard ass disappeared for the rest of the evening, never to be seen again.
Yes Meet and Greet
Usually out of range for me as far as price goes, this time I decided to pay for the Yes ‘meet and greet’. This was made even better with Roger Dean’s participation. Pictures were taken first, and then autographs after that. The photo of myself with the group, came out shitty. That’s a shame. I stood directly under a ceiling light, and its bright rays ruined the shot. The autograph part was fun. And I got to speak briefly with each of the guys. In my mind, I paid for the experience. Worth every penny. I thank Capital One for help financing the occasion. I hope to have them paid off and have a zero balance by the time Yes plays Las Vegas, again.
Update – The Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas, mentioned in the story, closed it’s doors earlier this year.
Yes’ Official Website – www.yesworld.com
Roger Dean Official Website – www.rogerdean.com
Jon Kirkman Official Website – www.jonkirkman.co.uk
End of Story
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