"The line-up may have changed,but the sound remains the same"
Review by Andy Argyrakis
The idea of line-up changes within the Yes camp are nothing new, nor is a tour without its original front man Jon Anderson. In the current case of the progressive rock luminaries, the line-up features the core nucleus of guitarist Steve Howe, bassist Chris Squire and drummer Alan White, plus new keyboard player Oliver Wakeman (son of former member Rick) and front man Benoit David (plucked off the web from a Yes tribute act).
Though the personnel shift scaled the band down to clubs as opposed to the usual arenas, it gave faithful a rare glimpse to see the players up close and personal, alongside a chance to size up the new members in a small space. Granted, the same fivesome hit the Chicago Theatre in late 2008, but this time through, everyone appeared to have gelled all the more and the set list was shuffled up to inspire repeat customers.
The current incarnation performed a fair mixture of commercially viable and critically acclaimed tunes, plus a handful of chestnuts rarely dusted off. On a more familiar note, "I've Seen All Good People" and "Roundabout" were runaway highlights, with David sounding just like Anderson for those who closed their eyes. His backers were much more impressive though, building upon each tune with additional instrumental flourishes to avoid redundancy from the record. Unfortunately, the same couldn't be said about "Owner of the Lonely Heart," which remained plagued by its dated keys and cheesy effects, though at least this appeased the radio faction of its fan base considering it's the band's most famous cut.
To most however Yes is an album act and the troupe obliged with the obscure "Machine Messiah" from Drama, a resoundingly approved choice considering Anderson would never sing those songs live since he wasn't their originator. Other old school nuggets included "Yours Is No Disgrace," "And You and I" and "Heart of the Sunrise," all of which defined the prog rock movement and continue to be a grand example of that complex playing style. Yet a grand finale jam of "Starship Trooper" truly brought that epic appeal to the forefront, assuring longtime listeners the retooled Yes hasn't lost its touch and is still sounding solid after over forty years in business.
I thought the show was very good overall. Acoustics have always been an issue at HOB. Yes were competent throughout, and maybe phoning it in a little towards the beginning. The band really started to cook on Astral Traveller and from there they took off like a rocket!
Benoit NAILED Onward. I've never particularly enjoyed this track, but he was just sublime. Machine Messiah totally ROCKED; worth the price of admission alone.
Chris' playing was on as usual. He was in particularly good voice. Steve's playing is aging like fine wine. He's still lost in guitarland!!!
The current line up does seem like the Chris & Steve Show, but I do think that Benoit and Oliver are fitting in better than they did last summer. Even if this tour is one of the last contributions to the Yes Pensioners' Retirement Fund, we shouldn't judge. Chris, Steve and Alan have devoted their lives, careers and passion to a body of work that will stand for decades. As long as they continue to perform competently, paying to see these bona fide music legends is a bargain at any price.
To those who haven't seen this lineup, go see them while you still can! Take your kids, too! Chris, Steve and Alan are master craftsmen. The younger bands should take a page from their books and watch how it's done!
What a great evening and performance by living legends. Sound mix is a challenge at the House of Blues in Chicago and can vary especially from what vantage point you listen but it is what it is. The chemistry between veterans Howe, Squire, and White continues to amaze by delivering tight musicianship and energy and leads their new partners Benoit and Wakeman in the YES! fold with enthusiasm and open arms. Oliver has big shoes to fill and indeed his father should and likely is proud of what his son brings to the stage. Benoit's vocal talents are excellent and just wonderful justice to Jon's prior work. My 25-year-old son who was with me for the performance grew up listening to YES! and did notice that David's voice has a slightly less "smokey" quality than Jon's which is fine because he brings his own timbre and character to the stage. We both commented after the show that often David nailed the tone and flavor or the lead vocals and had a fine performance. Steve Howe continues to amaze and truly is in my opinion, one of the greatest guitarist alive today. Thank you Steve! What I was amazed to see was the joy in Chris' performance. He actually smiles now which was very rare in the "old days". I had the rare opportunity to meet him after the show and commented to him that he's no longer has the "stoic English presence" that he used to have. Chris told me that he's trying conscientiously trying to smile more. He told me that is having fun out there. I could clearly see it. Chris is real gentleman in every sense of the word and other band members that I met, Alan and Oliver both were also gracious and a true pleasure to meet. I recommend that you see YES on this tour and bring someone younger with so they can appreciate their wonderful music and unique and rare talent and chemistry.
Like many of you, I've been enjoying the boys 'live' since the '70s. And, like many of you, the performances have ranged from mediocre (1) to phenomenal (10). Tonight was a 5. Chatty crowd, muddy sound, but intimate venue. Steve appeared less enthusiastic than in prior shows this tour. I spotted him blowing /wiping his nose off-stage frequently, so that might explain his lack of energy. He hit a few clams during his solo spot, but grateful for "Diary of a Man Who Disappeared" rather than "Clap". On the up side, "Tempus Fugit" was stellar!
BUT - my biggest concern (not complaint, mind you, just CONCERN) is the setlist. I went to this show because I'm a Yes fan - that's it. Always good to hear them. But I won't be going to another show on this tour because it'll be the same songs we've heard the last two years. Classics, sure, but it's time to mix it up. Benoit and Oliver are talented enough. I won't bore you with my "fantasy" setlist, as no two Yes fans' would be the same anyway. But what is everyone else thinking? Am I alone here? Again, I'm not complaining - just a bit disappointed that I left the show feeling less inspired than, say, the Masterworks era.
The sound mix was a little off. Steve's guitar was loudest while the vocals (Benoit) and keyboards (Oliver) were lacking. It was nice to hear Steve so clearly though, he is really enjoying himself on stage and he sounded great. I think he is having the most fun on this tour but all played well.
I thought the band played better as the night progressed. Machine Messiah, Yours-Disgrace, Heart-Sunrise and Starship really had a good feeling to them. I'm glad Steve made a comment after his solo regarding all the talking that was going on. I can understand that at an outdoor festival but it was a bit much during this show and really stood out during the acoustic solo.
It was great to hear some songs off Drama. I wish Jon would acknowledge that album and open up the catalog for future tours. I'd like to see him return soon and maybe even take some requests from the fans for the set list. It would be nice to see the band having so much fun (especially Steve!) with Jon in the lineup.
Tenth time I've sen them and they still amaze me. sound started a little rough but got much better. Benoit was good although I miss Jon Anderson. Rick Wakeman would be very proud of his son, Oliver. Actually the new members seem to rejuvenate the rest of the band. I'd like to see this lineup make an album. Great show
what a blast to see our rock heroes on stage and so close and intimate! steve was fantastic, chris and alan were great, benoit and oliver did a great job benoit is much maligned in previous posts - he did a great job, had integrity and talent, and obviously the veterans really enjoy having him up there! in fact, judging by many dvds of the band you'd wonder why they bother with eachother, but this lineup has chemistry - stage chemistry that makes them a joy to watch!!! i saw them one other time for the famed pod tour of 1976, an a mazing and inspiring experience, but - whoa! it's the here and now ladies and gents, and it was a blast to see them as they are!!!!
new music please!
House of blues isn't the greatest venue to see Yes. Way to noisy, everyone was talking during the show. The sound was terrible. The band was GREAT. Highlights were, Astral Traveller, Yours Is No Disgrace And You And I Machine Messiah Heart Of The Sunrise Starship Trooper They pimped us No SSOTS... The band started about 15 to 20 min late which is surprising for YES. The sound mix got better into the show, but still after seeing the band over 60 yes 60 times, this was the poorest sound I can remember although I can't remember much from the 70's and 80's... I might go back Friday night just out of love for the band. I recommend this show for any yes fan and even if you are not a fan, It's great. I took a Tull fan with me and converted him, too little too late. I wish he could have been there in their hey day. All in all a great time. Peace
Seeing Yes back in 1978 for the Tormato tour and then seeing them tonight invoked a lot of memories. I thought the show rocked, Steve Howe was entertaining for his facial expressions and comment about doing a song from that "fantastic album 90215", while Steve does not particularly care for that album his guitar playing made it his own, Steve also is meticulous when it comes to his own playing and these facial expressions tell the story. Benoit more and more is sounding like Jon, Chris thunders with his bass runs, Alan is still a solid drummer and although showed his talent during a solo, it is in the lengthy compositions that his showmanship truly shines. Finally, Oliver Wakeman, although Oliver did not do any outrageous solos, he made sure that he did his dad's work proud and also added the elements of previous keyboard player's for YES. The show ran two hours and fifteen minutes....making up for the previous comment about them starting late. Highlights were Astral Traveller, And You and I, Heart of the Sunrise and the encore Starship Trooper. The rest of the set list did not disappoint. The audience did provide a concert atmosphere and nothing nor did anyone get out of hand. This was a 50th birthday present from my cousin and her husband ( I went with him ) and I truly had a great time ( was only twenty feet from the stage )!