Tuesday, March 12, 2013
10 years and 18 days ago
The Aspen Times
Tuesday, August 27, 2013 9:43 AM
"Can progressive rock still soar? Yes answers in the affirmative"
Review by: Stewart Oksenhorn
ASPEN - The members of the British rock band Yes look convincingly, almost comically, like the stereotype of the aged rock star: thinning, graying hair, still kept long and unruly. Most of them have grown paunches; the one who hasn't is entirely too thin.
But the way the band performed Tuesday night at Belly Up Aspen, in their local debut, was anything but the caricature of the old band dutifully and nostalgically trotting out the big hits from decades of yore. True, the band did play the old songs, and nothing but - the current tour features the performance of three albums, all from the 1970s, in their entirety. But Yes' renditions of its past catalog crackled with fresh energy, not the reproduction of familiar guitar riffs. The crowd seemed to be there not for a social event, but a musical one, which is what they got.
Jon Anderson, the singer whose voice has graced almost all of Yes' work, is no longer in the band. But it's hard to imagine a better replacement than Jon Davison, an American whose resume includes a stint in the Yes tribute band, Roundabout. Davison nailed not only the original sound - not an easy thing, given Anderson's distinctive high pitch - but also Anderson's elfin persona. But Davison didn't disappear into some nostalgic character; he had plenty of personality to offer.
Still, it was the old blood that provided the biggest sparks. Guitarist Steve Howe, who has been on and off as a member since 1970, remains a spectacular talent. Progressive rock, the genre with which Yes is closely identified, might be about oversized musical constructions and grand instrumental playing, but Howe's guitar work has also a more intimate quality that translated well to the small nightclub. Many of the night's highlights came when Howe slipped more into the role of a jam player, improvising jazz-oriented licks, including toward the end of the song "Siberian Khatru." Another high point was Howe's solo acoustic turn, when his style veered toward folk-blues.
Chris Squire is the only member to have been through all eras of Yes. That seems fitting for a bassist, and Squire played well the role of the band's solid center, musically and spiritually. It was Squire who made a toast to Peter Banks, the original Yes guitarist who died on Monday. With Squire and drummer Alan White, who has been a consistent member since 1973, Yes' rhythms, emphasizing precision and sharp turns, were expertly handled.
The lone piece that failed to impress was keyboardist Geoff Downes, who, tucked away toward the back, seemed a minor presence. Much of Yes' heyday was defined by the splashy synthesizer work of Rick Wakeman, and Downes, who was a member of the band for a short spell in the '80s before returning recently, seemed reluctant to step into that prominent a role.
Progressive rock might have seen its day. But on Tuesday at Belly Up, it sure had its night.
Mike's Classic Rock and Prog Reviews
Wednesday, July 31, 2013 7:52 PM
"Yes Live at the Belly Up Aspen: March 12, 2013 Concert Review"
On a warm evening in the Spring of 2013, I had the pleasure of seeing Yes live at the Belly Up Aspen on their Three Album Tour, so named because the band was playing three of their classic 1970s albums in their entirety: The Yes Album (1971), Close to the Edge (1972), and Going for the One (1977). Despite a few minor mistakes, the show was generally excellent. Although I was worried that the band members, most now in their sixties, would have trouble reproducing live the music they created 40 years ago, I clearly shouldn’t have been.
Yes has become notorious for its unstable lineup over the years. In Aspen, they featured founding member Chris Squire on bass, Steve Howe on guitar, Alan White on drums, Geoff Downes (also a member of Asia) on keyboards, and newcomer Jon Davison on lead vocals. Founding member and original leacd vocalist Jon Anderson was absent, as was keyboard virtuoso Rick Wakeman, both due to a combination of health problems and personal differences. This is not the first time both men have been outside of Yes. Wakeman has joined (and quit) Yes a total of five times over the years, and Anderson left the band due to personal differences in 1980 before returning in 1983 for the band’s chart topping 90125 album. When I saw Yes in the fall of 2012, Davison and Downes did a superb job filling their void. Needless to say, I had high expectations.
The first album of the night was Close to the Edge. Its twenty minute long title track is a very challenging song to open with, and while I thought the intro was a little messy, it wasn’t long before the band got it together. The rest of the song went off great. Davison, Howe, and Squire nailed their vocal parts, and all played well, with the possible exception of Downes, whose keyboard solo near the end I found sorely lacking. “And You And I,” however, was spot on. “Siberian Khatru”, the final track off Close to the Edge, was one song I was worried about. Could Yes do justice to such an energetic, fast paced song at their age?
Apparently they could.
It might have been the highlight of the night. Downes played all of Wakeman’s parts perfectly. Squire held down the low end with expertise. White drove things along at a great pace. And Howe, despite having some trouble with his complex guitar parts at the end of the song, was on fire. Afterwards, Squire announced it was the first time the band had ever played Close to the Edge top to bottom in Aspen, before Howe introduced The Yes Album.
Right out of the gate, “Yours Is No Disgrace” rocked. This version was miles ahead of the one I saw at the Paramount in Denver last year. Howe’s solo was a thing of beauty. I swear he didn’t make a single mistake. Same goes for “Clap”, Howe’s short solo spot where, armed with nothing but an acoustic guitar, he was able to surpass the album version from 40 years ago. The next song, “Starship Trooper”, one of my personal favorites, was spot on, with rock solid performances by all. Steve Howe’s trademark guitar solo at the end was, once again, a highlight of the night. After excellent performances of “I’ve Seen All Good People” and “A Venture” (played on this tour for the first time ever),the band launched into album closer “Perpetual Change,” which was was perfect. Squire really shined here, playing his bass like it was a lead instrument. He was clearly having a good time.
After a twenty minute intermission, Yes returned to the stage for Going for the One, the last album of the night. On the first song (the title track), Davison’s vocal performance stood out above all else. He was effortlessly able to hit some of the highest notes in rock music. The only real rough spot of the night was the next song: “Turn of the Century”. The first half went off all right (even though Howe seemed a little slow). The instrumental middle section was hard to watch. Downes was clearly struggl
Thursday, April 4, 2013 1:04 PM
Steve Howe is not right to tell the crowd to be quiet at the start of Awaken. Since 1997 he has done this a few times. In 1977 people were going absolutly nuts at the start of Awaken. He wouldn't dare tell them to be quiet. The way they play and sound now, they have no right to say anything to anyone. They should be glad those people are in the crowd to see this fake YES.
Wednesday, March 13, 2013 2:15 PM
the venue had a capacity of 450 people. a little like ronnie scotts in london. before i mention the gig, at the end of the first set CTTE,TYA, SH, AW, GD and JD stood at the side of the stage while CS took to the mic and explained the band only found out about PBs passing the day before. he then gave the most perfect, simple, non patronising tribute to peter banks. short, simple, perfect.
The sound in this place was stunning even by YES standards. after the break it was time for the GFTO album. the crowd where quite loud at times and during the start of awaken SH SHUSHED the crowd (and quite rightly so). then came something a tad bizzare. during the guitar solo SH walked off stage and stood in the isle/gangway at the side of the venue and played the solo perfectly while peolpe had camara phones in his face flashing away. he just stood there looking at the crowd with "that" stare of his while playing. stunning stuff. JD was also stunning. his voice was 100% perfect. i briefly chatted to his partner? wife? at the end raving about how good he was.
I'm not normally one for writing much about shows but this was f**king superb. small venue, as the pics will show, amazing sound and stood approx 15ft from stage.
what a perfect night.