"Warm up tour in advance of new album finds prog rockers right on target"
Review by Andy Argyrakis
If there appears to be a renewed sense of excitement brewing in the Yes camp these days, it's probably because the progressive rock legends are gearing up for the first new studio CD in exactly a decade. Though the tentatively titled Fly From Here isn't expected to bow until later this summer, a fire's been lit behind the fivesome of familiar and fresh faces, as channeled into the current "Rite of Spring" tour.
For those keeping close tabs on the group, it's no surprise that Jon Anderson's no longer involved, though his much younger replacement Benoit David bears an eerily similar vocal resemblance, while Rick Wakeman has since retired from the road and recruited his son Oliver on keyboards. Along with the chemistry-filled nucleus of guitarist Steve Howe, bassist Chris Squire and drummer Alan White, Yes dug deep into its 40-plus year history with a liberal mix of surprises and several regular staples.
Die-hard followers were no doubt pleased with the back to back pairings of the keyboard-saturated prog popper "Parallels" and the sputtering guitar groove "Tempus Fugit." Additional warhorses like "Yours Is No Disgrace" and "Close To the Edge" have since transcended their time periods and become certified classics, while the experimental jam "Machine Messiah" served as a welcome addition from the rarely revisited *Drama* era.
Of course, not everyone in attendance was as fervent of a fan, and Yes obliged with the classic rock and pop side of its catalogue for a few major crests. "South Side of the Sky" and "Long Distance Runaround" still sounded inventive and enjoyable, though "Owner of a Lonely Heart" hasn't aged well and the programming came across especially poor in the live setting.
Nonetheless, the epic "Starship Trooper" and radio regular "Roundabout" rounded out the two hour and fifteen minute evening on an uplifting note, loaded with instrumental proficiency and David's sky high range. It may not have been quite the marathon Yes enthusiasts are used to, but it sure did wet their appetites for what will hopefully be an expanded outing in support of the upcoming album.