Wasn't going to bother seeing them when I found out they were touring with a tribute-band singer, which seems somewhat lame. But I was persuaded by the possibility of hearing stuff from Drama (an underrated album that Anderson refuses to perform any songs from since he wasn't on it).
I'm glad I went. We got two Drama tracks and though the show wasn't as good as when I saw them in 1991, it was far better than when I saw them in 2004. I would've liked to hear On the Silent Wings of Freedom and a couple recent tracks (like Homeworld, which IMO is on par with their old stuff), but the tracklist was good overall. David Benoît's singing and Oliver Wakeman's keyboards were buried in the mix, but they both did well. Chris Squire and Steve Howe were tight. Alan White was a bit of a letdown... he seemed to just be going through the motions (I noticed that he skipped some fills here and there).
BTW for others who went to this show, I put Tempus Fugit on youtube (not great quality as it was taken with my phone, but it's still a nice momento).
Fabulous show This was my 5th Yesshow, my first since 1980, and my second without Jon and Rick (having seen the "Buggles" version of Yes in the Boston Garden in '80). I could not ask for more in terms of the musicianship, the set list, and the length of the show (although Owner of a Lonely Heart is not a favorite). I was blown away by the Steve's guitar work and my teenage son (what a joy to share the show with him!) really liked Chris' playing and showmanship. I thought the sound mix could have been better as Chris's voices seemed louder than Beniot's at times. And the drums were not loud enough -- Alan seemed to be working harder than I could hear him. I thought Oliver's keyboard playing was terrific even though he seems to be the "quiet one" in terms of stage presence. I was pleasantly surprised by Benoit. He seemed a bit quiet at first, but his vocals were really quite good and when I closed my eyes he sounded amazingly like Jon.
I am not saying that Jon and Rick were not missed. But this was a great show, and if the Drama/Buggles version of Yes was legitimate, then so is this version. I was amused that someone was making the effort to protest outside by handing out postcards allegedly quoting Jon and Rick saying that this was not "real" yes. Get a life!
Setlist: The band appears to be following the same set list at all shows: Firebird Suite Intro, Siberian Kahtru, Your Move/All Good People, Tempus Fugit, Onward, Astral Traveler, Yours is no disgrace, And you & I, Steve Howe Rondo solo, Owner of a lonley heart, South Side of the Sky, Machine Messiah, Heart of the Sunrise, Roundabout, and the onchore; Starship Trooper.
As the two senior (pun intended) members of the group, Howe and Squire are now the frontmen of the act. Oliver Wakeman, Rick's son, is a good keyboardist, but is held, musically, in the background most of the time. One exception is on Starship Trooper, where he shines. Alan White was unspectacular, with the exception of his solo during "Astral Traveler". Vocalist Benoit is an adequate fill in for Anderson, but his presense, and Oliver Wakeman's, has a tendancey to tilt the interplay of the band. In prior incarnations, all 5 band members were equals and this led to a balance. Now, it's the "Steve Howe and Chris Squire Show" with special guests. Howe handles the role well, but I found Squire overbearing. The group also is diminished by the loss of Anderson. Jon is a better vocalist than Benoit, with greater range and is also a spritual prescense that was missing in this show. Howe was slow to start, but became spectcular as the show went on. He started the show on a modified, walnut finish Gibson ES-335 and his Fender pedal steel. The ES-335's thinner sound made "Siberian Khatru" a bit mellower that the original. On the 5th song (Onward), he finally started using the (previously hidden offstage) Gibson ES-175, his trademark guitar. The 175's growl was a welcome addition. Howe also used what appeared to be a Parker Fly and used a red Strat on Tempus Fugit and Owner of a Lonely Heart. He also used the signature vachalia on "Your Move". Howe channeled Peter Banks on "Astral Traveler" the oldest song performed. Howe scorched on "South Side of the Sky", a real treat. Howe also performed a solo on acoustic guitar, based mostly on his song "Masquerade". Squire's vocals were still good. He played his Rickenbacker 4001 almost exclusivly, except for using a Fender P-bass looking Lakland Bob Glaub on Astral Traveler and a bizarre looking, green Mouradiann on "South Side of the Sky". On Tempus Fugit and Owner, he used what I believe may have been an Electra bass. Benoit doubled on acoustic guitar on South Side, as well. All in all a good show and worthwhile, but definitly would have been better if Anderson was in the fold.
What a great Show!
Benoit David sounded really great - what a treasure.
The Keys and vocals were way to far back in the mix - I was disappointed looking for the monster Hammond runs that were barely audible.
The small theatre experience, tough, was special - the band seemed to enjoy the crowd silence during the period movements of the songs, followed by the thunderous standing ovations for EVERY song -
This was as good a show as was the Anderson,Bruford,Wakeman & Howe '89 shows - and that is saying a lot.
What a treat to see this incredible band in a small theater! It took them a couple of songs to get in the groove, but then they really rocked out! Chris was having such a blast playing his bass like a lead guitar. Steve played as well as I have ever seen him, which is many times. The sold out crowd was doing standing o's from the beginning. While Benoit doesn't have the same visual presence as Jon Anderson, if you close your eyes, you would be hard pressed to hear the difference. For me, the highlight of the show was "Heart of the Sunrise".
The performance was top notch and the sound excellent. Oliver Wakeman was the best I've seen him. But for me the big thing was the way YES won over the crowd. The crowd was enthusiastic from the start, but by the time the band got halfway through the set, every song was receiving thunderous applause and a 100% standing ovation. I was in the 6th row and when I turned around after "Heart of the Sunrise" I saw a sea of very happy people. What fun!
Benoit: What an amazing surprise! He sings like an angel, hits and holds all those high notes with confidence, and has stage presence, too. I imagine it was a bit nerve-wracking for him to join the band, but he is MORE than good; he's GREAT. These songs demand a certain unique voice sound, and Benoit has it and more. The concert was wonderful overall. What a joy to see Yes in such an intimate setting (the crowd rocked the house)! Steve Howe is as terrific as ever --- a mesmerizing guitarist. The set list is designed to showcase Steve, and he carries it off with mastery. Chris had a lot of fun out there, as usual, and still has a lovely, pure voice (the harmonies overall were superb). The only off song was "Owner of a Lonely Heart," which incorporated way too much synthesized pre-recorded layering in order to recreate that over-produced studio sound --- most unnecessary, and wound up sounding fake. All the other songs were awesome!