It seems like some of the very best concerts are the ones that you almost miss. This was certainly the case with the Yes show on Wednesday night at Cain Park.
For me, it came down to time. It had been a long time since the tour was announced, with the first details trickling out in December of last year. At that point, I really wasn''t sure that I needed to see Yes again.
After all, I've seen many a Yes show, starting with the first time that I saw the "classic" Yes lineup in 1997 at Music Hall. That's a story by itself. That was another Yes show that I almost didn't go to. I grew up as a fan of the 90125-era of the band and had little interest in the '70s material. But a friend asked me if I could get free tickets for him to take his girlfriend to the show and I figured that as long as I was making the effort to get tickets, I should try to score some for myself and take a chance on the show.
I went to the show that night at Music Hall and got a huge education on all things Yes. Besides a smattering of tracks from Open Your Eyes, the band's current album at the time with a couple of '80s Yes tracks wedged in for good measure, it was all about the epic '70s stuff, with tracks like "The Revealing Science of God," "Heart of the Sunrise," their famous version of Simon & Garfunkel's "America" and "Starship Trooper" as the closer.
Each year after that, I found my way to a Yes concert at least once per year as long as they were on tour, with the band's lineup shifting slightly (mainly on keyboards) in that time. 2003 would put a wrap on my "classic Yes" experience with a lineup that featured Jon Anderson, Rick Wakeman, Steve Howe, Chris Squire and Alan White.
The band would take a short hiatus in 2004, returning in 2008 sans Anderson with Canadian vocalist Benoit David at the helm. As much as I was against the idea of a Yes that didn't include Anderson, I gave it a shot and it was an enjoyable evening of music. With David, the band returned to the studio with Trevor Horn producing and in the midst of the recording sessions, Horn's former Buggles bandmate Geoff Downes rejoined the lineup on keyboards as well. Fly From Here was the result of their efforts and against many sets of odds, it was a new album that sounded a lot like classic Yes. Who would have thought?
Sadly, David encountered vocal issues in the midst of the touring for Fly From Here and found himself jettisoned from the group, replaced by another relatively unknown vocalist, Jon Davison.
Here's where my hesitation came in about attending this summer's tour. Do I really need to see Yes performing three classic albums with a new replacement singer, taking over for the previous substitute vocalist not named Jon Anderson? Having seen Yes with a lineup of Anderson, Wakeman, Squire, Howe and White, I wasn't so sure.
But earlier this year, I had the chance to interview both Chris Squire and Steve Howe separately regarding the tour and my interest grew. The jury was still out regarding the new vocalist, but I was willing to spend an evening with Yes and find out.
I was intrigued by the album choices, something which predictably either got a thumbs up or thumbs down reaction from the Yes fanbase, who are always ready for a good debate. You can't argue with Close To The Edge and The Yes Album, but Going For The One was an interesting pick.
When I spoke with Howe, he was a bit perturbed that the band wasn't performing the albums in the order that they were released.
Seeing the concept in play on the night, I can't argue with the path that the remaining members of the Yes brain trust chose. What could be more epic than seeing Yes open the night with the lengthy title track of the Close To The Edge album? The entirety of that segment of the evening was awesome.