As most people already said, it was a very good show. Of course it was Benoit who had to endure the hardest scrutiny from the audience, including me. You know, obviously, if you know me, you know how insanely I love Jon Anderson and how much his music and his presence means to me. I'm a Yes fan, because I'm a Jon fan, so on some level, it was quite difficult even for an open-minded fan like me, to accept this change. Enter Benoit David. And you know what? He pretty much did it for me. Though there were still songs I found almost somewhat obscene without Jon as they are manifestations of the very spirit of Jon, most of them worked pretty good under the circumstances. Benoit found his own different way to sing the songs, his stage presence is different from Jon's, his charisma is different. He's no mere impersonator and that's what counts for me.
The main star of the night was obviously Steve Howe, who was every bit as good as ever and then some. The same goes for Chris who delivers his bass licks well cooked as we all love them and Alan, who might've slowed down a bit over the years, but still hits hard and precise as we are all used to from our favorite drummer of all time! I was a little sad Oliver wasn't given more spotlight and just played his parts. He is a great keyboard player worthy of the name Wakeman and I would love to hear some more of his keyboard extravaganzas during the gig.
Generally, the premise of this tour, at least for me, was to showcase the still- amazing instrumental skills of this Jon-less lineup and I think this begs for more solo spots which were absent, except for Alan's solo and two guitar pieces by Steve. Come on, throw in the Whitefish medley, let Oliver play his arsenal of keyboards and perhaps also Benoit could sing a song of his own, I'm sure he has something in store. Just my thought....
As good as the performance was, I still couldn't shake off the thought that the stage was kind of empty. Although I think this lineup works for what it is, I still missed Jon SO much. Something just wasn't right. Just the other night I watched a couple of older Yes DVDs and all felt so right, so perfect. It feels kind of bittersweet. But we'll see... I'm looking forward to what future brings, from the current Yes guys and from Jon alike. And then, twice in the history of Yes nobody hoped Jon would return. Maybe he will for the third time, too.
I'm thankful for this amazing chance to hear Yes music live once again, and if I sounded a tad critical, never mind that, it was still a great show and if you are open to accept this whole new face of Yes, you're in for a treat. My heart is still with with Jon, though...:)
After the show, thanks to a great friend of mine, I had an opportunity to meet and greet the guys backstage. We had a great time. All of the guys were so cool to talk to and be with. Especially the new guys, Benoit and Oliver. Great lads. They're so talented, such great future awaits them, and they're still so humble and just happy to be there with the fans. A thousand thumbs up to you and hope to see you again...sometime....somewhere.
Mood for a Day was not dropped. Steve solo was Mood for a Day, and Intersection Blues.
This review is by a Canadian (Vancouver), in Slovakia on extended business - someone who was caught by complete surprise by a poster in downtownish Bratislava, heralding the arrival of the only band/music I would take to the proverbial deserted island (it's been that way for nearly 40 years!) . . . by someone who got hooked at around the release date of The YES Album and has been able to be utterly amazed and inspired by perhaps 10 or 12 concerts from that period until this one.
The Bad - Sadly, it felt like a relaxed and uninspired rehearsal :( Since there can be no 'weak links' in a YES performance, it was also unfortunately marred by no real musical space for Oliver Wakeman to shine and so his role looked and sounded like 'I'd rather be somewhere else'. The first 3/4 of the sound production kept that rehearsal feeling going - huge lack of the rich majestic sound-scape that is so critical for a true YES experience. In keeping with the rehearsal feeling, there were also many musical,equipment and production flaws - from mistuned guitars and feedbacking mics to the lyrical cues and words forgotten or unknown. Steve, the ever consummate performer seemed to be in a constant state of 'fixing' the events of an itinerary - not losing himself in the musical space that the audience and he expects to hang out.
The Good - It was a very, very small crowd; but it was definitely a warm, dedicated and enthusiastic crowd. Chris is not just the musical guardian and glue for YES, he has always been as was this night, the terra firma of any live event that I've been witness to. This performance was no exception. While it is true that Benoit is no Jon, he no mere fanboy. He has a real awareness of the material and as I have read elsewhere he really can take you sonically to the places where Jon works his craft and majic. No matter the whiny criticisms I have written, that I have been privileged like so many other 'fans' to have had a pure ecstasy filled and life-changing earth time because of having discovered this real treasure so early on, any time they share and play: There's Is No Disgrace - It Will Be A Good Day!