Progressive rock took center stage Saturday night when one of the corner stones of the genre, Yes, returned to the Hampton Beach Casino Ballroom for the venueís opening weekend. For someone that has seen the band three times previously, there was still something new for me to enjoy. The band was playing three albums in their entirety, of which was plenty of material that I had never heard live before. Also, the band was sporting a new lineup, and most notably, a new lead singer John Davison. Davison had previously fronted a progressive rock band called Glass Hammer. The tricky part about a long time band finding a new lead singer is whether or not the new singer sounds like the long time front man, in this case, Jon Anderson. The bandís previous singer, Benoit David, sounded so much like Anderson, that if you closed your eyes, you probably wouldnít be able to tell Anderson and David apart. I donít know where the band finds these new singers, or if they have a lab where they breed these guys, but Davison sounded eerily similar to Anderson as well, despite being under the weather.
The band took the stage at 8pm to the sold out crowd and opened with close to 19 minute title track from Close to the Edge. Close to the Edge is the bandís fifth album, and the title track took up the whole first side of the original album. It was quite the song to open with, and I wasnít quite sure what order they would play the three albums in. After the band opened with Close to the Edge, they then moved on to the next track from the album, And You and I; another great progressive rock song, which clocks in at ten minutes. They then closed out the album with my personal favorite track from the Close to the Edge album, Siberian Khatru. Close to the Edge is a great album and the band did an amazing job pulling it off live.
After a short ten minute intermission, the band came back and played Going For The One; an album that casual Yes fans might not be all too familiar with. I know that I wasnít previous to the show. The album features shorter tracks than some previous works, maybe with the intent on getting more radio friendly. The album starts again with the title track, which starts with almost a hillbilly guitar riff from Steve Howe, which would sound out of place on some of the bandís earlier albums. The band followed with Turn of the Century, and then with probably my favorite track of the album, Parallels. The song features the sound of a more traditional organ and a heavy bass groove. The song was originally written for a Chris Squire solo project and was written by the bandís long time bassist. Perhaps thatís why it features such a rocking and predominate bass groove. The band the closed out the album with Wonderous Stories and then the 15 minute Awaken, which had bassist Chris Squire pull out a triple necked bass guitar.
After another short intermission, the best was saved for last with The Yes Album. The Yes Album is filled with hits and deep cuts. It might even be my favorite Yes album, which says a lot, because Fragile is usually considered their best album. All it took was the opening notes of Yours Is No Disgrace to get the crowd on their feet. Next, Steve Howe took the spotlight, much like he did all night, but this time, he had the stage for himself as he busted out an acoustic guitar and played Clap. Clap was actually originally on The Yes Album has a live recording, and the studio version was later thrown on as bonus track of the re-mastered version of the album. Howe plucked that guitar and made it sing some sweet sounds and the crowd got into it by doing what the title of the song suggested; clapping. The rest of the band then came back out and did a rocking rendition on Starship Trooper, followed by Iíve Seen All Good People. Both songs have been Yes staples at shows for years, as both are some of the bandís bigger hits. It was then followed up by A Ve