In this summer of revamped classic rock 'n' roll outfits hitting the road again, '70s-spawned rockers Yes kicked off this year's Summerfest with their version of the trend Thursday night at the Marcus Amphitheater.
Early in the evening came "Rhythm of Love," a hit from the band's second life, a renaissance in popularity that began in 1983 with the arrival of new guitarist Trevor Rabin.
Next came a drawn-out mood piece rocker from the band's new album, _Talk_, complete with spacey keyboards, and a musically synchronized light show. The visual splash grew strong on "Changes," followed by an instrumental and a couple more songs off the new album.
It's hard to imagine the and as Yes without founding members [sic] Rick Wakeman and Steve Howe; the keyboardist and guitarist, respectively, were the band's guiding force.
This, however, isn't meant to take anything any from the current line-up: Rabin play and keyboardist Tony Kaye are very accomplished musicians, and Rabin played an integral part in shaping the band's '80s sound. The band's rhythm section remains solid, held down by long-time members Chris Squire on bass and Alan White on drums.
Well into the second half of the show, Yes dipped into its deep past, providing crowd-pleasers from classic '70s albums like _Fragile_, _Yessongs_, and _Close to the Edge_.
One of the more interesting numbers of the night was a new one tossed in among the oldies, "Where Will You Be," an East Indian-styled track detailing vocalist Jon Anderson's interest in reincarnation.
Milwaukee Sentinel July 01, 1994 Dave Tianen
The veteran progressive rock band fell considerably short of the usual Summerfest Marcus Amphitheater sellout Thursday night.
Over the years, Yes has had more personnel changes than the Brewers' infield. The current line-up card shows Jon Anderson on vocals, Trevor Rabin on guitar, Chris Squire on bass, Tony Kaye on keyboards and Alan White on drums.
To our mind, Yes would improve markedly if space aliens were to seize Jon Anderson. Fey and pixie-like Anderson reminds us of what might happen if somebody let Richard Simmons front a rock band. Musically, of course, the real problem is that he has a small, thin voice that has diminished with the years.
Rabin, on the other hand, is a stellar guitarist and a better singer than little Jon to boot. The best moment of the band's first set was "Changes," an operatic piece that lets Rabin shine on strings and vocals.
After failing to catch fire in the first half, Yes began to gain momentum after a short intermission. "Owner of a Lonely Heart" features one of the band's better melodies and prompted a standing ovation. "Where Will You Be" from the new album _Talk_ provides some basis for optimism about Yes in the '90s.
A life after life anthem, "Where Will You Be" has a world-beat aura, part blues and part Africa. It also boasts a pristine Rabin solo on acoustic guitar. With a few more tunes like "Where Will You Be," Yes may have a future as well as a past.
Now, if the space aliens would just help out with Jon Anderson.
Milwaukee, WI June 23-July 13, 1994 Michael Popke
After more than 25 years, 10 incarnations and an all-time roster of 12 players, Yes has experienced its share of inner turmoil. Bands of lesser tenacity would have crumbled long ago.
But not Yes. Today's five-man lineup--including three original members--rides the crest of a new album, a fresh attitude and an updated, global sound, all of which contribute to this summer's biggest stage production in Yes history. The band headlines opening-day festivities at Milwaukee's Summerfest on June 30.
"This definitely ranks up there with our best," bassist Chris Squire says while taking a break from late-May rehearsals in the Los Angeles area, referring to Yes' latest release Talk, and the summer tour. "We've had a couple of monsters, and this is definitely one of them."
But despite all the excitement in the Yes camp these days and the desire to move into the Nineties, the new Yes will not completely abandon the old Yes. Squire says to look for a healthy dose of classics on the U.S. tour, particularly cuts from The Yes Album, Close to the Edge and Fragile, sprinkled in with post-Rabin material. The first leg of shows, each expected to last more than two hours, kicked off June 16.
"Certain songs, like Heart of the Sunrise, I'll never get tired of playing," Squire says. "As long as they keep drawing emotions from people, we'll keep playing them."
Incidentally, tracks from Union likely will be ignored, he says, leaving a sense that the "real Yes" would rather forget that small chunk of band history.
Ultimately, however, the songs themselves might be upstaged by an extraordinary sound system Yes is trying out on the road. Additional speakers hung behind reserved-seating sections will create a quadraphonic sound environment. Fans in the general admission seats will be treated to extra speakers placed in front of their sections as well.
And as if that's not enough sound enhancement, Yes will be broadcasting performances on its own radio frequency, 98.5 FM. Fans who want to watch the band perform live but listen to its music through headphones will be invited to a special section where reception is expected to be the clearest. Because of the one-watt transmission, the concert will not interfere with any local stations regularly broadcasting on that frequency.
These efforts to revolutionize the concert experience confirm that, even though its music no longer is considered as ground-breaking as it once was, Yes remains on rock's cutting edge.
As Squire says: "It's the only place we feel comfortable."
Milwaukee, WI June 23-July 13, 1994 Michael Popke
Back when I was younger, I used to sit in my room on hot summer nights and listen to Yes with the lights out. For some reason, the other-worldly sounds of Jon Anderson's voice and the band's celestial instrumentation and lyrics carried more significance in the dark. While the band has undergone several transitions during the last 25 years, the rhythm of the night still manages to cast its spell on Yes.
That conclusion was painfully evident as the latest five-man incarnation of the progressive rock giant strolled onto Milwaukee's Marcus Amphitheater's space-age stage on June 30, launching the 11 days of Summerfest. A curtain time of 7:30 p.m. meant that the first hints of nightfall were at least 90 minutes away. Not coincidentally, that was almost how long it took founding members Anderson, keyboardist Tony Kaye and bassist Chris Squire, along with guitarist Trevor Rabin and drummer Alan White to find their groove.
A seven-song first set opened with The Calling, the first single from the group's latest album Talk, and continued with that album's next track, the pleasant I Am Waiting. Uninspired, however, Yes plowed through Hearts from 1983, Rhythm of Love from 1987 and Real Love, another track off the new album. Not exactly a stellar set list.
Only when Rabin, dressed in tight black and red striped pants and a loose-fitting black shirt, took over the vocal duties on Changes did the aging Yes show signs of life after 40. Up until this point, the band's extended jams lacked the creativity and ingenuity that made Yes an institution and helped change the face of rock in the '70s. Anderson, who looked like Robert Plant as The Karate Kid in his long golden locks, white pajama outfit and cloth belt, left the stage to let Rabin work his magic.
Commanding a more powerful stage presence than the soft-spoken Anderson, Rabin brought the now-enthusiastic crowd of twentysomethings and baby boomers to its feet for the first time since Yes walked on stage. That surge of energy carried over into Squire's bass solo, intensified by the bass pedals he worked throughout the show. By the time Anderson returned to team with Kaye on an extra set of keys for Heart of the Sunrise, Yes was warmed up. The band sounded as if it had been working toward this moment all night. Each player hit his individual stride, and together the group worked musical wonders. For brief seconds, there was even the strange sense that the audience, transported back to 1972, was listening to Heart of the Sunrise for one of the first times--replete with psychedelic lights and dry ice. A quick look over my shoulder toward the sky told me that the night--still young--had taken over the Summerfest grounds. Then Yes left the stage for a 15-minute intermission.
Like so much of Yes' studio work, the first part of the band's live show was a tale of extremes--extremely high highs and extremely low lows. I kept reminding myself that the band only had been on tour for a week or so before hitting Milwaukee and that there were bound to be some kinks to iron out. Refreshed and invigorated by the crowd's reaction to the first set's closer, the Yesmen launched into their second set with the same ferocity that this quintet displayed on the 90125 tour 10 years ago. Cinema, 90125's instrumental piece, segued into City of Love, which led to a mean version of Owner of a Lonely Heart. The growl of Rabin's guitar continued to pump life into Yes, and the sight of Rabin and Squire strutting in tandem across the stage reassured the crowd that Yes indeed was having fun.
Lengthy and flawless interpretations of And You and I (featuring Rabin on guitar and keyboards and Anderson on acoustic guitar) and I've Seen All Good People inserted between two more new songs from Talk kept up the momentum.
The only downer came near the end of the show when Anderson pulled out a music stand, warned fans he