42 years, 7 months and 13 days ago
Saturday, October 18, 1980
Yes: Theatrics Remain, But Vocals Slip
By Cindy Atlee
When Yes gives a concert, their arrival is like that of a seasoned socialite - fashionably late and as dramatic as possible.
In keeping with that tradition, the band's arrival at Hampton Coliseum on Saturday night couldn't be upstaged by very many groups. The concert was given in the round, with a circular stage right in the middle of the coliseum floor.
As the lights went out in the coliseum a spotlight swept across the floor, pointing away from the stage. The audience turned expecting to see Yes enter from the right as a circular curtain fell from ceiling to the stage.
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Bathed in blue light, the curtain slowly rose to reveal the band members, already on stage as if by magic.
But the grand entrance was not the only theatrics of the night. The stage began revolving as the band started to play and as the evening wore on, the drummer and his entire drum set were elevated on a revoving platform, banks of light descended and rose, and lights swept from the stage to the crowd.
The theatrics of a Yes concert are much like their music, a synthesized, technical, orchestrated sound.
Nothing has changed in the Yes sound since the group was last here, but the band members have. Vocalist Jon Anderson and keyboardist Rick Wakeman, integral members of the band since its inception have departed to pursue solo careers. The remaining Yes members recruited Trevor Horn and Geoff Downes, formerly of the Buggles to replace the duo.
The revamped Yes has produced some mixed results. While the band retains its strong instrumental base, fronted by lead guitarist Steve Howe and bassist Chris Squire, the group has lost much vocally.
Comparisons to a departed band member may seem unfair, but Yes is still performing the older songs that were so powerfully sung by Anderson. Horn, unfortunately, just can't carry the clear, beautiful lyrics that made Yes vocals so awesome.
But then nobody else could either, and Horn probably gets as close to the Anderson sound as possible.
Yes opened the show with "Does It Really Happen To You?", a cut from their latest album, "Drama." Some technical problems distorted much of the vocals on the song, but that was soon cleared up.
The group performed 13 songs from their 12-year musical career, offering up old favorites like "Yours is No Disgrace" along with unrecored tunes such as "Go Through This."
It's obvious that the band has lost none of its instrumental expertise, and each member was highlighted in various songs. Howe played a rousing version of "The Clap" on acoustic guitar, with Squire spotlighted on a lengthy version of "The Fish."
Unfortunately, Squire's spot began to resemble an endurance test after a while, mostly because of a superfluous version of "Amazing Grace" thrown in at the beginning and the end.
Drummer Alan White though shined on "Starship Trooper" and shared bullet-like licks with Howe on "Into the Limit" [sic] And while Downes can't carry of the majestry of a Wakeman, he demonstrated fine work ona n interesting version of "White Car."
Yes worked the crowd up to a fever pitch, with fans rushing the stage for the "Starship Trooper" finale and cheering wildly until the group returned for a rousing encore of "Roundabout."
But when the show ended, the band members walked calmly off the stage, a rather dull finale after the earlier histrionics. Couldn't they at least have disappeared in a cloud of smoke?