Friday, August 20, 2004

Off to Atlantic City:

To see Yes and Dream Theater at the Borgata.

Update: One word to describe the show: Phenomenal. Although I like many different styles of music, one thing I really dig about progressive rock is the respect that the musicians have for musicianship, i.e., playing music that is technically demanding (as is normal for jazz & classical music). A lot of rock bands out there are decent players and good songwriters, but their reliance on their raw creative talents and studio production in “perfecting” their sound often leads to lackluster live performances (Smashing Pumkins comes to mind as an example of this—they sucked live).

These two bands played their music—music that is highly technical (but that is still good, "heart & soul" music)—practically flawlessly. I was so impressed by how the guys in Yes—who are pushing 60—sounded every bit as good as they did 30 years ago. Jon Anderson has got to be the happiest man on Earth (he just exudes positive vibes). And his voice in particular sounds just like it did 30 years ago (this is important—many rock singers have no formal voice training and thus don’t know how to “take care of” their voices. Years and years of screaming on-stage takes a toll. And many prominent middle-aged rockers, for instance, Robert Plant, Greg Lake, Steven Stills, and even my favorite progressive rock signer, Steve Walsh [of Kansas] don’t sound like they did in their prime. Even some of the jazz greats—like Frank Sinatra—start to gradually lose the quality of their voices as they get on in years).

Dream Theater are of the next generation. But even they have been around for some 15 years or so. And the guys are starting to get into their mid to late 30s. Their music is arguably even more demanding than Yes’s and from what I’ve heard, Dream Theater mandates a “clean” lifestyle (no drugs or alcohol) while on tour and the members work out vigorously. You could tell that they keep their bodies in really good shape.