Brno, Czech Republic

Last night Eva and I arrive in Olomouc and go to the Hotel Alley – kind of an odd name. There we see our friend Eva – head of Kiwanis of Ostrava. She gifts me with a bottle of slivovice and I reciprocate with a bottle of burcak. We’re sitting in the lobby waiting for the band to return from rehearsal. Steve Howe is first in the door, spryly speeding up the steps looking like an old, mad scientist. He has no interest in socializing. After they all return we go to the restaurant for dinner before this “party” that nobody seems to know much about. The party turns out to be a concert at a local nightclub featuring Petr Siska’s band, Legends. Yes are whisked upstairs to a room where posters are signed and a video interview takes place for Czech TV. The mayor is there – a very friendly guy and not a bad guitarist, as he demonstrates on a guitar that’s nearby.

Next, the band is brought to the stage as the mayor formally presents them with a bottle of slivovice and some official paper. The 700 people in attendance voice their approval. Alan later asked the mayor for the key to the city, so we’ll see what happens regarding that.

Tonight, Eva’s brother, mother, and grandmother are in the car with me. We gave Paul, Yes’s road manager, a list of 23 people for the guest list. He tells Alan, “I didn’t know you had so many friends over here!”

We arrive at the venue, pick up our after-show passes and locate our special seating area just to the right of the stage. I’ve seen the band three or four times before, and once again am amazed at what a grand soundscape they create. The young blood of Benoit David and Oliver Wakeman are a life-giving addition to the band. It’s a beautiful thing to see a group like Yes in a foreign country. They speak a universal language that amazes, uplifts, humbles and endears people of all languages.

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