Although nearly everyone at the show was already wearing the band’s t-shirt, the Yes merchandise booth at the Sands Casino acquired the atmosphere of a frenzied convention in the minutes leading up to that band’s appearance on stage.
On this night the progressive rock icons had promised not one of their entire classic albums, but a full trio fleshed out by The Yes Album, Close to the Edge, and Going for the One.
This sparked quite a stir of excitement among the band’s faithful.
Despite an aggressive touring schedule in recent years, the live album concept coupled with the acquisition of a new lead singer brought Yes a nearly sold-out crowd in the newly constructed Sands Event Center in Bethlehem, PA. "YES Reignites Classic Albums"
There was a palpable curiosity surrounding the freshest face in Yes, Jon Davison, who oddly enough bears a structurally similar name to his original predecessor Jon Anderson. (This coincidence also struck Journey when Steve Augeri replaced Steve Perry).
But Davison has much more in common with Anderson than a name. It became quite clear just minutes into the epic intro piece “Close to the Edge” that their voices are nearly inseparable.
With the perfect vocals in place, the rest fell together quite easily for the five piece.
Steve Howe had the look of a mad professor at work as he traded guitars to re-create the intricate sounds he first put to vinyl over 40 years ago.
It was as pleasing to watch Chris Squire pluck away at his bass guitar as it was to hear the thunderous booms it produced during a fantastically done “Starship Trooper”.
Sonically, Yes remains one of the most ear-pleasing bands on the road today. The task of reproducing three decades-old albums in a row? Hardly challenge for them.
Thursday, April 18, 2013 3:04 PM
Concert Review: Yes, Sands Casino, Bethlehem, PA 4/7/13
In recent years, the legendary progressive rock band Yes has stuck with a greatest-hits approach in live shows, typically playing the most recognizable, radio-played songs in its formidable catalog.
Fair enough, but for longtime fans who’ve seen the band live multiple times, hearing another rendition of 80s comeback hit “Owner of a Lonely Heart” may not be too exciting.
That’s why it’s so cool—at least to this longtime fan—that Yes changed things up for its Spring 2013 tour, playing three classic albums—Close to the Edge, The Yes Album and Going for the One—in their entirety at each show.
This tour has raised the eyebrows of some fans, as only two current Yes members (guitarist Steve Howe and bassist Chris Squire) were on all of the original albums being played (drummer Alan White was on Going for the One). Is it valid for this version of Yes to play these albums? When I interviewed current Yes lead singer Jon Davison earlier this year, (read the interview here), I asked him about this controversy.
“Though it’s important to acknowledge the artists of the music during such an event, it’s most important, in my opinion, to acknowledge the music itself, which transcends the personalities behind it,” was Davison’s reply.
Fair enough, and based on the way the 2013 Yes “acknowledged the music” at the show I saw on this tour, I’d say that it is indeed valid. This may be the best show Yes has put on in years, perhaps even decades. And judging by the reaction of the sold-out crowd, I’d say I’m not alone in this conclusion.
The concert I caught was held at the Sands Casino in Bethlehem, Pa., a small town about 1.5 hours of drive time away from Philadelphia. I’d never been to this venue before, but it turned out to be a great place to see a show. The casino’s Event Center was a nice arena—not too big to be overwhelming, but large enough that I felt like I was at a major event. And what an event it was!
The 2013 Yes comprises Squire (the only person to be on every Yes album and in every lineup), Howe, White, Davison and keyboardist Geoff Downes, who was in Yes from 1980 to 1981, and rejoined in 2011. Howe has been the band’s guitarist since 1970, and White joined in 1972, so neither they nor Downes are newcomers to the Yes family. The big question mark here was Davison, who became lead singer for Yes in 2012, replacing Benoit David, the vocalist who himself had replaced the band’s original, iconic founding lead singer, Jon Anderson. Anderson has been out of Yes since 2008, the year in which he fell ill and the band enlisted Yes tribute band David to stand in for him in an arrangement that became permanent. When David himself became ill in 2012, Yes hired Davison, an American best known for singing with the band Glass Hammer. The band’s replacement (two times!) of Anderson has been controversial, with some longtime fans boycotting all Yes shows and new recordings (the band released a new studio album, Fly From Here, in 2011) to protest Anderson’s absence.
Their loss. It is a shame that Anderson is no longer with the band, but Davison did a spectacular, peerless job in his place. I never got to see the band with Benoit David fronting, but I read reports and heard live recordings of shaky performances. Understandable—this is a very demanding repertoire to say the least. Anderson’s alto lead voice was an anomaly on the band’s classic records—soft and melodious where other rock vocalists were aggressive and forceful. To sing this music and cut through the roar of the band’s instrumentation is a formidable task, and Davison handled it with poise, energy and most of all, great spirit.
Scheduled to start at 7 p.m. with no opening act, the band came on around 7:15 to the sound of its usual entrance music, Stravinski’s “The Firebird.” Not that any of this music is easy, but Yes began the show with on