"Unique as ever, Yes affirms fans' faith Group displays its hybrid sound in mixture of old and new material in Kirby Center performance." December 2, 1999 By Alan K. Stout Times Leader Staff Writer
WILKES-BARRE -- Did you ever watch a band perform on stage and think, "These guys were simply born to play in a group together"?
Did you ever listen to a band and think, "How does one even begin to write songs like this?"
If your answer is "yes," then perhaps you've seen the group Yes in concert.
The polished progressive band performed on Tuesday at The Kirby Center in Wilkes-Barre, engaging the crowd of 1,500 with its unique hybrid of rock, pop, jazz and classical sounds.
The group opened the show with "Yours Is No Disgrace," and soon followed with the new "Homeworld (The Ladder)." "Lightning Strikes" and "The Messenger" were also among the new numbers performed early in the set, with vocalist Jon Anderson dedicating the latter to the late Bob Marley.
In addition to pristine sounds, Yes' concert also offered a fine visual display that included brilliant lighting and an enormous video screen, which offered serene spacey images that seemed to correlate with the music.
Classic Yes songs also brought roars from the crowd, and the band was met with several standing ovations throughout the evening. "And You and I: Cord of Life/Eclipse/The Preacher The Teacher/The Apocalypse"-- from the renowned "Close to The Edge" LP -- was one such occasion and a lengthy performance of "Awaken" inspired the same response from the audience.
Still, melodic newer numbers such as "It Will Be A Good Day (The River)" were also warmly received. (If you like Yes, the band's new LP, "The Ladder" appears to be a more-than-worthy companion to the catalogue.)
Anderson had a warm rapport with the audience, and although his soft-spoken nature sometimes made his dialogue with the crowd hard to decipher, his gratitude to the Yes fans for their loyalty, his well wishes for the upcoming holidays and his excitement at the arrival of a new millennium appeared sincere.
Steve Howe's guitar work consistently displayed virtuosity and often brilliance, and guitarist Bill Sherwood complemented his work well. Chris Squire's bass-lines were rhythmic and punchy, Alan White offered fiery percussion and keyboardist Igor Khoroshev also brought the appropriate flare to each number and anchored what remains an integral part of the Yes sound.
The set ended with "I've Seen All Good People (Your Move/All Good People)" and encores included a slightly extended version of "Owner of A Lonely Heart" and a spirited performance of "Roundabout."
More than 30 years after its debut, Yes proved on Tuesday it still has much to offer its fans. The new material was particularly strong, and the older work served as a pleasant reminder of just how vastly different and how pioneering the sounds the band first brought to pop music were and still remain.
Just as other older groups who have visited the area this year -- Jethro Tull, The Moody Blues and Styx -- Yes continues to do its own thing and do it well. And considering the music industry's consistent desire to mold artists' sounds and images to fit certain criteria, that's something for which Yes should be most proud.
Yes concert: The Past is destined to repeat itself By Jerry Kishbaugh Citizens' Voice Entertainment Editor
Audience-pleasers - Yes. Great instrumentalists - Yes. Great harmonies - Yes. Long songs - Yes. Dated music - Yes.
I know the many Yes fans who attended Tuesday night's concert at the F.M. Kirby Center may not like my assessment that the music of Yes is dated, but it is. The days of 15 and 20-minute songs are long gone (unless you're a Deadhead or a Phishhead, but that's another story).
And, yes, I'm well aware of the fact that the Yes contingent - lead vocalist Jon Anderson, bassist Chris Squire, drummer Alan White, keyboardist Igor Khoroshev and guitarists Steve Howe and Billy Sherwood - performed as well or better than they did when they started 30 years ago. However, long, drawn out songs are a thing of the past.
The progressive rock that Yes dishes out features Anderson's soaring vocals (which tend to become a bit taxing), intricate four-and five-part harmonies and complex, meandering song structures. I won't deny that the band sounded fresh and clean, but during each lengthy song I began to feel as if I was immersed in the same old song during the spiraling, incessant instrumental breaks.
At times, the music was mesmerizing, but more often than not I found myself slipping into the world of ennui (boredom). I sorry, but the swirling psychedelics and computer-generated graphics playing on the large screen behind the band only served to enhance my desire to drift off to another world. Yeah, it was somewhat relaxing.
As Yes veered off on its instrumental tangents and took you along for the ride, it was Howe's blistering, extraordinary guitar licks that brought you back to the environs of the Kirby Center. If any one player stood out, it was Howe, whether he played one of his many electric guitars or the six- and 12-string acoustic.
The concert opened with a film and photo collage of Yes - from the beginning to the present - as the band members took their places on the stage to pre-recorded music. Howe, who appears to be at odds with the band's newer guitarist (Sherwood), stood at opposite ends of the stage, flanking Anderson and Squire. On risers behind the foursome were the keyboardist and drummer.
Most notable, besides the fact the original Yes members haven't aged well, was the attire of Anderson and Squire. Brian the circulation boy summed Anderson's clothing up best when he said it looked like he bought his togs at a yard sale featuring Bea Arthur's wardrobe from "Maude." Squire's white knickers, long doctor's jacket and combat boots made him look like a character from a Dickens' novel.
The two hour and 10-minute show, which seemed to consist of five or six songs, opened with a sparkling rendition of Yours Is No Disgrace. And Yes wasted no time in mixing the old with the new by following up with Homeworld from their 1999 release, The Ladder.
Throughout the night, Yes interspersed songs from their self-titled debut album, as well as their other big-selling albums (Fragile and Close To The Edge) with select tunes from The Ladder.
Of course, no yes concert would be complete without the obligatory tunes: I've Seen All Good People, Your Move, Lift Me Up and the closers Owner of a Lonely Heart and Roundabout, among others. One of the highlight's from the new album proved to be the island-flavored tune, The Message, which Anderson said was a tribute to Bob Marley.
For what it's worth seeing Yes in concert is like taking a trip back in time. However, there are times when reliving the past just doesn't cut it.
As I said, the band played and sang as good or better than they did back in the early '70s. The sad part is that the new millennium is upon us and it's time for Yes to move into the future. I realize this is not a "wondrous story," but at Tuesday night's Yes concert I couldn't help but think we were
Was at the Kirby Center show last night. I just got back home to D.C. this morning, and decided to post a few thoughts on the show:
This show was AWESOME! Easily one of the best two Yes shows I've ever seen (for perspective, I started attending shows on the ABWH tour). Last night was just about flawless on everybody's part. Steve and the whole 'bad attitude' thing. Bullsh*t! I sat in the second row about 10 feet from Steve, and he was really into what he was doing. He came out with "YIND" all guns blazing and just destroyed the place. Easily the best I've heard him solo on that song, and that includes his excellent work on Yessongs and the QPR video. But all of his solos were rhythm parts were fantastic last night. I didn't hear a single bum note. As far as him being 'disengaged', I have two comments: (a. the show is not quite as geared to spotlight Steve as the last tour, since "Siberian Khatru" and "America" were not played--so there were parts of the show where Steve had less to do. Rather than stand around with his hands in his pockets or something, he bowed off the stage during those parts--especially when Billy was featured. Some could interpret that as a sign of disrespect, but I look at it the opposite way. I thought it a highly classy act to give Billy the sole guitar spotlight in those sections. (b. Steve showed no outward signs of boredom or displeasure the entire show. What did seem different is that Steve seemed much calmer on stage. There were some moments when he did his patent 'head bob' during heated solos, but he seemed to work with an economy of motion at this show. He *was* focusing very intently on what he was doing, and if you notice the amazing amount of 'choreography' he goes through to change instruments during songs, you can understand why. Someone I spoke to last year said they saw Steve backstage after one of the shows on the '98 tour, and he looked exhausted. So perhaps Steve is trying to conserve energy for the entire show. He looked to me as if he could have played for another couple of hours last night. If you want a guitarist hamming it up on stage, go see Eddie Van Halen, ferchrissakes!! The setlist. I thought it worked well. Of course, they could play for 4 hours and not play everything I would like to hear, but I thought the set was a nice balance of the various elements that make up Yes music, and the pacing was good. I'm glad they decided to play the shortened "Roundabout", since that meant more room for other material that I haven't heard a zillion times before. Note: there were *no* solo spots...even Steve went without one last night. I liked that. "Hearts" and "Awaken" worked very well onstage...maybe for the first time ever. "Hearts" was much improved with Igor's wicked Hammond soloing, Steve's steel guitar parts to give that oddball touch, as well as the de-emphasis on heavy guitars. This lineup may be the ideal one to play "Awaken", with Billy around to augment the vocals and guitars, and Igor around to finally play the damn thing right onstage. Both numbers benefitted greatly from the decision to play them at a more brisk tempo. "Awaken", in particular has been really draggy on stage in the past, but it sounded much better at the same tempo as on the album. The sound. I'm not the best person to evaluate this, since I was only about 6 feet from the left speaker bank!! I made sure to wear earplugs to save my already questionable hearing. The keyboards were pretty high in the mix, but they often tend to be emphasized in the FOH mix to compensate for the fact that they often get lost in the mix further back in the room due to acoustical problems. I agree with others that the bass seemed low in the mix, except for Chris' bass pedals, which were a teeth-rattling presence!! Billy. His guitar playing seemed a much bigger part of the show this time around. Being so close to the main speakers, I could hear him putting in lots of guitar work, even in the older songs
A great show! Well Duhh! Tight as a band can be. Alan was right on and having a good time.
Igor looked plastered (O.K. maybe he wasn't, but he looked it). Played wonderfully though. A lot of fans seem to have warmed up to the "Mad Russian" with a lot of calls from the crowd "IGOR!"
Billy played some good lead guitar on Lightning Strikes with Howe supporting on acoustic rythm.
The slide show on the screen behind them was very cool! I liked the computer animated hummingbird that played during Awaken. Very cool.
Steve was as on as can be.
I got autographs from Steve, Billy, Chris and Alan. Jon came out and touched a few people and thanked us for coming and slipped out with Janie (helping him get him some). After all that a roadie said it was time to leave as Igor wasn't coming out.
Ed Q: Why!?
Roadie A: "Igor slipped out the side entrance with two women."
"Igor is as happy as a pig in s*** right about now."
I'm telling you comrad, this capitalism will be the death of us all.
Just got back from the Wilkes-Barre show. To those that said Howe wasn't into certain songs and seemed distant well he was "smoking" tonight. Set list was the same, mix was good, Jon's voice great. He asked if Pennsylvania was famous for "beer" which got a rise out of us coal region dwellers. Took my 18 year old son (his third show) he got off on the "Homeward" video said it put him in a trance. Great show, the Band was loose any seemed to enjoy the crowd. Alan was enjoying the hell out of And You And I. To those who haven't seen em yet you would be disappointed. Toon Army!