I've managed to see every incarnation of Yes through the years starting in 1971 except for the Drama tour with Geoff Downes and Trevor Horne. This was the last time I've seen them play live and probably the last now that Chris is gone. I was really pumped to see this show because they were playing three of my favorite albums - Yes Album, CTTE and GFTO. I brought my girlfriend along and wasn't sure how she would react since she is more into dance music, but she ended up loving it and having a great time. The new singer does a good job filling in for Jon, although he doesn't always sound EXACTLY like him. Steve has lost a few steps on guitar and one only has to compare his playing on Awaken to videos from 1978 to see how much fire he used to have when he played those incredible solos. That's what 40 years will do to you. Speaking of Awaken, it was definitely the high point of the show and deserved to be the last song of the night before the encore. I'm surprised no one mentioned the glitter confetti that was shot into the air during the climax of the song. Very moving moment that added to the emotion and drama. The biggest disappointment is that they have to play the songs at a slower speed than they used to. It was very noticeable on Perpetual Change, which is a drag because that's my favorite Yes song. Otherwise, a near perfect night of my favorite music. And it was great to see Chris Squire one last time and see him playing just as well as he did every time I've seen Yes.
Wednesday, July 31, 2013 8:53 PM
"Yes Bring the House Down in Los Angeles With Epic Three-Album Show"
Review By Chris Epting
Late last year, it was announced that the iconic, Grammy-winning band Yes would hit the road to present three of their classic albums in their entirety. Yes, after many lineup changes over the years, is now comprised of guitarist Steve Howe, keyboardist Geoff Downes, drummer Alan White, bassist Chris Squire and newcomer vocalist Jon Davison. They would be performing Close to the Edge, Going For The One and The Yes Album. The tour would mark the very first time the band had performed an album in its entirety since 1973.
Last night (March 6), at the tour’s fourth stop, in downtown Los Angeles at the historic Orpheum Theatre, Yes demonstrated why they remain one of the most vaunted and respected musical forces in progressive rock among both fans and players alike. The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame may not feel a need to acknowledge this seminal group, but judging from the emotion and positive energy from the sold-out house, the legions of Yes lovers don’t care about awards and stuffy critic accolades. What they do care about is soaring, intricate, timeless music that transports the listener into another time and space.
As the lights dimmed and the strains of “The Firebird Suite” filled the theater just after 8 p.m., the band members stepped into place and the journey began with a full reading of 1972′s Close to the Edge. The last album to feature original drummer Bill Bruford, the title track of the record was inspired by Hermann Hess’s book, Siddhartha.
Singer Jon Davison, now a year into his role as front man (he replaced Benoit David) demonstrated from the outset that he is more than up to the task. Evoking the pitch and range of original singer Jon Anderson, Davison, who once spent time in a Yes tribute band, seemed comfortable, earnest and a little in awe of the music himself (his childhood pal, Foo Fighters drummer Taylor Hawkins, was also in the house).
After Close to the Edge, it was time for 1977′s Going for the One, notable back then for featuring shorter, punchier songs as opposed to the sprawling epics that by then had come to define their approach. The album provided a nice counterpoint to the weightier Edge, and culminated with a confetti blizzard that turned the vintage theater into a spacey, winter wonderland.
After a brief intermission, Yes closed out the night with 1970′s The Yes Album, the band’s third effort and the first to feature guitarist Steve Howe (who remains a compelling, professorial focal part of the Yes life experience). This was perhaps where the band found its most effervescent groove, opening with “Yours Is No Disgrace,” then featuring Howe’s nimble-fingered acoustic vamping on “Clap” before rolling through one of the band’s most beloved signatures, “I’ve Seen All Good People.” The well-oiled rhythm section of drummer Alan White and bassist Chris Squire provided many subtle flourishes, as did keyboardist Geoff Downes.
The encore was the swirling and knotty FM radio staple, “Roundabout.”
Blending elements of jazz, classical, blues, funk, country and more, Yes reminded one that “prog” music as it is become known, is not merely about bone jarring time changes and lightning fast playing proficiency. At one time it was about exploration, experimentation and an elegant, seamless blending of many musical styles into one space-age storm that remains inspired, atmospheric and very hard to categorize.
This was a feast for the followers; faithful renditions for the many die hard starship troopers that were no doubt reliving many scrapbook Yes memories over the years. But the show was not about mere nostalgia. This is a band that still feels strangely new, simply by doing what they do, pushing the boundaries and presenting songs that, like the wildly colorful and original Roger Dean artwork that represents them, are just be
Orange County Register
Wednesday, July 31, 2013 8:30 PM
"Yes reborn by revisiting its glorious past on tour"
Review by Ben Wener and Crew
The 60-somethings break in new O.C.-based singer Jon Davison the hard way, with three full albums at the Orpheum, and come out revitalized in the process.
Regardless how many aesthetic-shifting phases and lineup permutations these particular prog-rock legends have undergone in more than four decades of work, one thing has remained constant: Yes never says no to big ideas. Grandiose designs, epic pieces that eat up entire sides of vinyl, banks of keyboards and drum sprawls that take up more stage space than your average punk band requires – this most unfairly vilified of the excessively progressive groups that rose to popularity in the early ’70s rarely comes across an outsized concept it doesn’t like.
But Wednesday’s nearly three-hour show at the Orpheum Theatre in downtown Los Angeles was an altogether riskier proposition.
A year ago Yes announced it had replaced original vocalist Jon Anderson’s replacement, Benoît David, with a relative nobody out of Laguna Beach named Jon Davison. Plucked from tribute band Roundabout (and still frontman for another prog outfit, Glass Hammer), he’s a childhood friend of Foo Fighters drummer Taylor Hawkins, who strongly recommended the singer to founding bassist Chris Squire, the only constant in Yes’ lengthy career.
After easing Davison into the role with retrospective shows last summer, however, the band has now baptized him in deep prog waters. While downsizing their choice of venues (the 2,000-capacity Orpheum is the norm) they have upsized sets by performing not one but three classics: The Yes Album, their defining 1971 breakthrough; Close to the Edge, arguably the group’s zenith, from 1972; and the underrated Going for the One, a return-to-form after the lambasted double-disc disarray Tales from Topographic Oceans (1973) and its good-not-great follow-up, Relayer (1974).
Even in this era of full-album tours, that’s more than most artists would dare in a single night, and it would have been a daunting – perhaps impossible – task for Anderson to pull off convincingly at 68. Unlike Squire (who just turned 65) and longtime guitarist Steve Howe (66 next month), virtuosos whose chops haven’t rusted in the slightest, Anderson and his high-flying voice have suffered unavoidable deterioration as senior years have set in. Enter Davison, more than 20 years their junior, who is to Yes what Steve Perry sound-alike Arnel Pineda is to refashioned Journey – an uncanny vocal facsimile who effortlessly and powerfully nails even the most skyscraping notes. Close your eyes and you’d insist the original had been cryogenically frozen and teleported to the future. Open them again and you discover Davison also somewhat resembles Anderson. His innately spiritual and spritely demeanor, not to mention lanky dirty-blond locks and penchant for psychedelic garb, perfectly evokes the hippie-in-space vibe that endeared the real thing to generations of fans. In every note, you can tell how seriously he takes this endeavor, how profound he finds the songs, no matter how convoluted the lyrics.
He’s a spot-on simulation. Yet I was initially distracted from noticing because Yes doubled-down on its three-in-one gamble. Instead of presenting the albums chronologically, as they just had in San Francisco, they chose to open with Close to the Edge – or, more to the point, its 20-minute title track, the sort of behemoth better served by allowing both audience and band time to warm up before indulging. Its almost free-jazz opening movement played out not as carefully controlled chaos but like a stretching exercise, with none of its grand pauses delivered with the precision that emerged as the night wore on.
The mix also left something to be desired at first, with Howe’s astonishingly fluid fretwork too high, Squire’s equally dexterous bass playing too low, and the pacin
Friday, April 19, 2013 9:44 PM
Review by Shawn Perry
It’s not your Grandfather’s Yes anymore. Just don’t tell that to the fans (many grandparents themselves) resistant to the perpetual change the band has experienced in recent years. Maybe it’s just something the old codgers are going to have to get accustomed to: High turnover affecting the bands we love and grew up. Either that, or they retire and we’re left with the old records and tribute bands. It’s a tough choice.
The Yes situation has been a sensitive issue for some time. Jon Anderson, the group’s original singer and a major player in their success, is actively recording and touring. He’s publicly expressed misgivings about his dismissal from Yes after suffering from acute respiratory failure in 2008. And indeed it was a bit of a shock when the band elected to carry on, hiring Benoît David, a singer from Yes tribute act Close To The Edge, to tour and make Fly From Here, the last Yes studio album. Many complained that Yes should pack it in, including the band’s flashiest former keyboardist Rick Wakeman.
When David’s own health problems cost him his job with Yes in 2012, many speculated in the immediate aftermath that Anderson’s return was palpable. However, Jon Davison, a singer from another Yes tribute band Roundabout, was quickly brought in to finish out 2012. Tonight at the Orpheum Theatre, the third show of their 2013 spring tour, was to be a real test for Davison, who along with guitarist Steve Howe, bassist Chris Squire, drummer Alan White and keyboardist Geoff Downes, would be performing three classic Yes albums — Close To The Edge, Going For The One and The Yes Album — in their entirety.
Within the comfy confines of the Orpheum, just about anyone on that stage is bound to be spectacular. But the turnout for Yes bore a special glow, and anticipation was running high. Predominantly in their late 40s, 50s and beyond, the diehards still hold fast to their ideas of Yes, many wishing Anderson was there, but in full acceptance that after five years, that isn’t going to happen anytime soon. The key to tonight was really the three albums themselves. Speculation ran far and wide as to how certain songs, especially the ones rarely played live, would be interpreted. The lights lowered and the fluttering waves of Stravinsky's "Firebird Suite" messaged the devoted. You could feel the mounting excitement in the room about hearing this music, regardless of who was on stage.
OK, that last part isn’t entirely true. Steve Howe was hands-down the VIP of the night from the moment those first angelic notes of “Close To The Edge” splayed their effervescence over an ebullient audience. He spent a good portion of the show reaching over one guitar to play another while nimbly nudging his pedal steel on wheels off to the side. This is the kind of stage craft and instrumental wizardry that sustains the group’s credibility.
Actually, the whole band found their footing quickly from the very first number. A video of discordant images and swirls played overhead while epic piece unfolded. And if you closed your eyes, as many did to the sway of the melodies, you just might think Davison’s vocals were everything the songs needed.
Under as much scrutiny was Geoff Downes, tasked with playing those intricate little parts so well conceived, placed and integral by Rick Wakeman. Like the caped wonder, Downes was surrounded by an arsenal of keys, his attack a tad less elegant but just as lethal. Like Davison, serving the songs without derailing them into stratosphere is his job with Yes. When the music is this precise, even the slightest alteration can stir the cauldron of bad consequences like porridge at the petting zoo. You just don’t mess with a sure thing. To that end, there was little deviation from the original recordings.
The always reliable “Siberian Khatru” ended the first album of the evening before images from Going For The One graced the screen and the band
Thursday, March 7, 2013 7:17 AM
Wow!! What an awesome show! Back to starting off with Firebird Suite, CTTE, then GFTO, Intermission and TYA, with Roundabout encore. (What was that intro piece to TYA?)
A bit rough out of the gate on CTTE with a few flubs by nearly everyone. GD notably sloppy on the tricky bits. Not an easy piece to hit the stage running on. AYAI was nearly flawless and gave my goosebumps! JD vocals are pure and soaring and CS was on his vocal game tonite most of the time although I think he was wearing out a bit towards the end of the night. None of the barking I heard in the YouTube vids from New York and Seattle. Steve flubbed the intro to SK and briefly walked off in disgust (10 seconds max with a wave off). He was visibly pissed at himself. After that he regained his stride and nailed the remainder. GD keys were a bit muffled at times depending which one he was playing.
A brief greeting and mention that it was the first time the CTTE album had been played on stage in LA "in order" by Chris, the Steve setup the next album. Moved smoothly into a very tight version of GFTO, although it was lacking some of the keyboard licks on the chorus. TOTC was incredible and seemed to go very well for all concerned. The tempo and sync were maintained even on the intricate key/guitar segments. Again, JD's vocals shined here. Steve once again directing the beat with head nods as described in other reviews. Parallels was a treat, played at the correct speed and with all parts very close to the album. Wonderful rich keys here! WS was incredibly powerful and rich! The vocals were very tight by all. And of course, my favorite piece, Awaken, played to near perfection by all. No, Geoff is not Rick, and he does make a few shortcuts on the most intense runs, but the variance is slight and he really does have a good grasp of the piece. This piece almost always brings me to tears when performed live and this was perhaps one of the richest performances of it I have seen in many years! I could pass on the confetti at the climax, but it doesn't detract from the moment. Climax it did and then let us down gently and warmly into the Intermission and the first bows of the night. They all appeared to be enjoying themselves.
TYA kicked off with a great very tight version of YIND, and the simpler keyboard parts of this album are obviously far more comfy for GD. Steve was back in amazing form for his solo on the Clap and even when the audience "clapped" and as always got out of time, he kept right on at it, driving the beat with his left foot. ST was good fun and well performed. AGP was nice (as always) and I really want to thank the drunk 50 something guy in row H just in front of us who spent the entire song demonstrating his best belly dancing and hula moves while all around him remained seated. A Venture is not a track to bring down the house and was probably the least well received piece of the evening. Performance of it was a little rough in spots. Set wrapped up with PC played very well and the vocals throughout were nice and rich although by this point Chris had stopped sustaining many notes. A very appreciative crowd all on their feet for this bow and they came back for a rousing version of Roundabout... true to the album with a slightly extended ending.
All in all, one of the best Yes shows I have seen in many years, far better than the tour last year with JD and better by far than the one before that with Benoit, although I originally enjoyed him on his first tour with the band. I think JD has an incredible voice and he really nailed 98% of it tonite. Alan was right there tonite and kept things humming at a good clip. None of the songs seemed to drag at all for me. As I said, all of them had their moments, but just shrugged them off and carried on without skipping a beat. Was this just another rehearsal as some have said? Sure... it's a rehearsal every time they play. Yes music is incredibly intricate and even thou
Thursday, March 7, 2013 5:56 AM
Here is my review:
I overall thought that the show was fine. A few minor glitches and mistakes were sprinkled in every so often, pretty much by everybody. Looking at the overall picture, it was definitely a great show, excellent vibe and energy there. Now to more details:
I was really skeptical before the show how the Firebird Suite would sound leading into CTTE. I felt that it wouldn't be a great way to lead into it. After being there live, my opinion on that one definitely changed! What a way to open a Yes concert with such a classic, epic piece. Geoff seemed to stumble a bit on the keys, yet, those are some tricky parts. AYAI was spot on and really moving. The beginning of SK was simply a trainwreck! I didn't realize that it was the song they were playing at first! Steve really messed up there. Very sloppy beginning to the song, but as it went on they all really got into it, and the song was redeemed!
GFTO was good. Good to see it back in its original key. GD really lacked in this song. He didn't do a whole lot of playing, but when he did, it was very quiet and I could barely tell the keys were playing. I sense this song was very under-rehearsed, especially with Geoff, which is definitely understandable with his tragedy. He just didn't seem very ready for it. TOTC was absolutely beautiful. Davison really shined on this one, and Geoff did a remarkable job. It's a tricky song, so there was definitely a lot of communication between the five guys on stage, such as Steve nodding when it was time for Geoff to do the piano part, etc. Parallels was great, and sounded very much like the original recording, unlike when they played it with Benoit. Wonderous Stories and Awaken were probably the key songs of the show. They were terrific. Geoff has improved big time since last tour on the organ solo in Awaken, as well as those tricky scales in WS that he did not do great on last year.
It was nice after a ~20 minute intermission to hear YIND. I felt the rest of this album kind of lacked the 'energy' than the previous two albums. Steve's "Clap" really slowed things down at the get-go, as it was only the second song after the intermission. Not that it was bad from that point on, but it really showed that the guys were not as 'into it,' as before. Starship Trooper and ISAGP were nothing more than 'good.' Those two songs were rather sloppy, and net well put-together. Not bad though, but just not the same 'magic' when you compare it to the beginning of the show. A Venture was excellent, yet it's really just a simple, slower song so again, the vibe kind of was slowing down and not as strong as the beginning of the show. Perpetual Change was actually excellent! It was strange to go from a slower feel to all of the sudden a great way to end the show! Well, with the exception of Roundabout, which could never be complained about!
The vibe was great, it was a pleasure to be there, and I really loved it! I still wouldn't compare it to the tours JA were in such as the 35th Anniversary, Masterworks, and so on. I really felt it was good, but it was really lacking having the "JA Feel," which in my opinion truly makes it YES. I don't know how well JA would do in the band now, with his health and everything, but none the less, it was a terrific show! I've seen lots and lots of improvements compared to last year. Geoff the most. Steve, Chris, and Alan all seemed on top of their game, as usual. Davison sang beautifully! To wrap it up, it was a great YES experience! I'd really recommend it to anyone who is skeptical of going, especially later on in the tour! Overall, YES was on top of their game!
“It’s strange, you know,” former Yes drummer Bill Bruford once told me. “Songs like ‘Siberian Khatru’ sound really hip these days.”
Bruford was right. The six studio albums that British quintet Yes released between 1971 and 1977 have aged well, standing today as a paradigm of progressive rock and its infinite ambition: the desire to stretch the concept of rock & roll to the limit, incorporating elements of jazz, classical music, sweet psychedelia, noisy dissonance and Eastern mysticism.
Decades after prog rock was vilified as a bourgeois disease in need of an antidote (namely, the Sex Pistols), albums like Fragile and Relayer surprise with their edgy sensibility, an almost compulsive need for experimentation and, most importantly, the relentless beauty of their soundscapes.
Wednesday at the Orpheum Theatre in downtown Los Angeles, the current incarnation of Yes embarked on one of its most ambitious projects to date: performing three of those classic albums – Close to the Edge, Going for the One and The Yes Album – in their entirety, following the original song sequence. For studious fans of the band, it was a sumptuous treat.
But was this really Yes? In 2007, when original vocalist Jon Anderson faced serious health issues and a lengthy recovery, the remaining bandmembers – in a decision of Spinal Tap-like genius – enlisted Canadian singer Benoit David from a Yes tribute band. When David experienced health problems of his own last year, Jon Davison from neo-prog outfit Glass Hammer was brought in.
Interestingly, this incarnation doesn’t quite feel like Yes with a new vocalist. Instead, it sounds like a Yes tribute band with some of the original instrumentalists as guests. (When Peter Gabriel left Genesis in 1975, the remaining members briefly considered turning the band into an instrumental act. Such is the staying power of a charismatic lead singer.)
As the concert progressed at the Orpheum, you could feel your brain scrambling to block Davison’s singing and focus, sometimes desperately, on the vocal harmonies by bassist Chris Squire and the virtuoso guitar lines of Steve Howe. Not surprisingly, the brief instrumental passages performed by Squire, Howe and drummer Alan White were the highlight of the evening. Howe was the protagonist throughout, using an arsenal of stringed instruments to conjure up the ghosts of bluegrass, flamenco, jazz fusion and primal rock & roll.
Davison sounded alternately goofy (the 20-minute epic “Close to the Edge”), raucous (bravely attempting the breathless dynamics of “Going for the One”) and genuinely affecting (a fine job evoking the delicate pastoral mood of the underrated gem “Turn of the Century”). Putting any of the blame on him would be cruel. The original vocal lines by Anderson are just too specific and richly textured to be emulated, and in retrospect, Anderson had a strong presence as an MC, even with his occasional New Age musings. By contrast, Davison chose not to address the crowd between songs.
Keyboardist Geoff Downes added more problems to the mix. A founding member of the Buggles and Asia, he excels at the intersection where prog rock meets early Eighties new wave. Downes programmed the keyboard menu lovingly, playing basically the same notes but adding subtle variations of sound. When the songs required chunky organ chords heavy on the bass, everything was fine. But when it came to playing the baroque, spidery lines originally performed by resident genius Rick Wakeman, they sounded frantic and sloppy.
It is debatable whether Yes is tarnishing its legacy by continuing to tour with a lineup that is still able to generate excitement, perhaps, but is imperfect in so many ways. In interviews, Anderson has expressed his disappointment at having been cast aside. Since he is currently touring the world as a solo act, he could theoretically rejoin the band and perform a select number of shows.
Yes was once known for its spirit of inclusiveness (remember that 1991 tour with eight dudes on a revolving stage?), so it wouldn’t be out of the question keeping both vocalists on the fold. In the spirit of good old fashioned prog rock integrity, perhaps it’s time to take a deep breath and pick up the phone.