Saw the show...and I got almost exactly what I expected.
Here were the pleasant surprises:
1) Phil's banter the crowd was at times amusing
2) Tony's keyboards sounds were significantly better than expected
3) the overall sound was better than expected
4) the visuals were cool
5) DS died of massive heart failure while ruining Firth of Fifth (ok that didn't actually happen)
Show opened strong. I liked the Behind the Lines instrumental. Turn it On Again was good but the tuning a whole step down hurts the song...although live it still packed more of a punch than the VH1 special or YouTube clips (but that isn't really saying a lot). I still think the Three Sides Live version kicks ass...original key, slightly up-tempo.
No Son of Mine and Land of Confusion were also good. I knew what would be my favorite part of the show was coming next. In the Cage/Cinema Show/Dukes' Travels was great...the live setting again helping the obvious key change. I've never understood why people like Afterglow so much but it was performed well.
Hold on My Heart was fascinating for me. Of course I don't like the song but what struck me was the need to extend it and jam on it a bit. I can't even get the original length of my favorite tunes but I can get an extended version of a shitty one. In a word...awesome.
Home by the Sea/Second Home by the Sea. First part good...Second Home was great. Definitely a high point of the show and basically what I had hoped for when the tour was announced. A great performance of one of the great tunes from the three man era.
Follow You, Follow Me. I can't complain. Not one of my favorites but obviously knew it was coming when the tour was announced.
Firth Of Fifth/I Know What I Like. I walked out during this as the anger overcame me. Tony's keyboard solo sounded horrible. Phil's drumming (while good for most of the show...Chester was the doing most of the drumming during the show...even when Phil was behind a kit) was totally lame here.
Even from the concession stand DS's performance was horrendous. I kept looking on the menu for thorazine to kill the pain but they didn't have it.
Read my previous rants about this. In short never ever perform this song again....(unless its the original five and the song is performed in its entirety). And kill Darryl Stuermer. This is not a joke. Kill DS. REDRUM!! REDRUM!!
And yes Phil you can still play the tambourine with your bald head and your feet. But so can a trained monkey. And to see images of Steve Hackett on screen while listening to the band rape his music was really more than I could take. I'm still seething.
Mama - yes it was good...very good I guess...but couldn't save the pattern of the show which was good song, shitty song, good song chopped to shit and ruined by DS, shitty song
Ripples - excellent. Not one of my favorites but at least they did it complete and DS restrained himself....wow we're up to two good songs in a row
Throwing it All Away. Ok I guess. Yes a hit but not one that really was essential to play (like Invisible Touch) Not one of my favorites but the camera thru the audience was entertaining. It made the joy of the rest of the crowd somewhat infectious...although a "Kill Darryl" chant would have worked better for me
Domino - the anger started to swell again. I have no understanding for this. Its a long song off an album that was thoroughly represented that evening. And Phil's head with the Doctor Who swirl on the screen was tough to take...but maybe that's just me. Nothing about the performance of this song quieted the screaming "why the fuck are they playing this" voice in my head. But let's cut Cinema Show a little bit shorter to fit this in.
Drum Duet - yes it was very good...but for me couldn't make up for the good/bad back and forth of the night.
Los Endos - also was good but not enough to win me over
Tonight Tonight Tonight - we're going to make it right tonight...too late for that. I think was performed in the Key of Zzzzz
Invisible Touch - great crowd pleaser (for most)...my brother and I made it to the screen during the camera shots. I think my enthusiasm was the catalyst for the crowd here
I Can't Dance - wow they did the funny walk thing. That was awesome. And it was really fucking awesome when some drunk NYC dudes starting doing it in the aisle daisy chain style. Wow I love being surrounded by cool drunk dudes. Especially when its clear they get the actually lyric of song. I had to keep telling myself, "you have a beautiful wife and child at home...you have a beautiful wife and child at home". Its the only reason I didn't go out in a blaze of glory last night.
Carpet Crawlers - ok. The only reason I didn't leave after the In the Cage bit.
So yes the show was better than 92...but so is a Solo Ray Wilson acoustic performance. Yes the sound was better than expected....but shouldn't it be good considering the technology available and the ridiculous $$$ being made on this tour. I'm tired of giving performances credit for what should be a given. And Phil sang great (if you can forgive that he's not 30 anymore...which I can). The visuals for the show were good too. But the set list is fucked beyond ridiculous. Two hour show, 20 minutes of enjoyment.
Yes part of that is my responsibility because I'd be a fool to think they're going to skip their hits. But I Can't Dance was never really a hit. Domino was never a hit. Firth of Firth was never a hit and this performance was a complete fucking disgrace as was I Know What I Like, and Tonight, Tonight, Tonight was also dull as hell. And extending Hold on My Heart...WTF? How long do I need to pee?