Original here: [Link][Link] 6 Amphitheater, Baltimore: Yes is a band which has overcome adversity and seemingly become stronger for it. The loss of a founding member, however, typically is too much for any group to endure. Yes has, of course, witnessed the departure of all its original members – with the exception of bassist Chris Squire. So, it was unclear if they could survive Squire’s sudden death on the eve of a co-headlining tour with Toto.
Fortunately for Yes fans, the band called on former Yes member Billy Sherwood to replace his friend, Squire. Sherwood’s contributions to Yes’ live show in the past included second guitar and vocals on the tours for Open Your Eyes and The Ladder; he also served as keyboardist, guitarist and second bassist on the Talk tour. More significantly, Billy Sherwood has made memorable production, mixing and writing contributions on many other Yes projects.
Filling in for Chris Squire on bass, at first, would seem to be a heady task for anyone, but Sherwood has played Squire-style bass parts before: Check out his Circa project. Perhaps equally challenging, however, is to sing Chris Squire parts. But Yes’ Baltimore stop found Sherwood firmly engrained, as the band honored the memory of Chris Squire and moved the legacy of the world’s greatest progressive rock band onward.
In fact, “Onward” served as the show’s opening tribute to Chris Squire, and it was touchingly appropriate. The track, originally recorded for the Tormato album, is a great celebration of the life and work of the bassist. The prerecorded new version accompanied a touching video tribute, along with a sole white spot light on Squire’s signature Rickenbacker bass.
The concert then kicked into high gear with another Tormato track, “Don’t Kill the Whale.” Billy Sherwood was clear and deep in the pocket with drummer Alan White, while Steve Howe blasted through the song with renewed vigor. I dare say this version eclipsed the original.
“Tempus Fugit” was up next. Steve Howe delivered once of his most blistering guitar leads in perfect step with Sherwood and White. Geoff Downes’ keyboard sound and vocoder (on the chorus “Yes, Yes”) perfectly replicated the original sound of the Drama recording. Vocalist Jon Davidson showed his versatility, spitting out the syncopated vocals with precision and power. The song is a high-powered treat. “America,” originally recorded by the Yes’ best-known, Close to the Edge-era lineup, was given a confident workout. Downes employed authentic ’70s-era synth sounds, while Davidson breezed through Paul Simon’s lyrics. “America” was strong, but I’d trade a more recent song of two from Heaven and Earth or even a Billy Sherwood-era song for it.
“Going for the One” followed and was perfect. Alan White held the band to the original tempo of the song, and allowed Steve Howe space to fly on his pedal steel songs. Billy Sherwood played perhaps one of the more challenging Chris Squire parts on his eight-string bass, and handled the harmony vocals in lock step with Jon Davidson’s lead vocal with precision and passion. The Maestro must have been smiling from above.
“Time and A Word” followed with grace and elegance. Interestingly, the song is the only one no member of the current band played on the original recording, but it seemed a natural fit. Concert staples “Clap” and I’ve Seen All Good People” both generated a favorable audience reaction, which intensifies with the Close to the Edge classic “Siberian Khatru.” “Owner of a Lonely Heart” and the show-closer “Roundabout” had the enthusiastic audience on their feet.
Yes returned to the stage for a powerful encore version of “Starship Trooper.” Steve Howe ripped off vicious solos from his hollow-bodied G
Friday, August 14, 2015 8:52 AM
The date: Exactly one year since the recording of Like It Is: Live at the Mesa Arts Center, Chris Squire's "final" Yes recording.
The place: Pier Six Pavilion in Baltimore, MD. Lovely. Basically an outdoor show in a big tent.
Yes' set opened with a tribute to Chris Squire. The video screen played a montage of Squire photos while they played a pre-recorded version of Onward. The acoustics of the venue made it hard for me to tell if this was the original, or re-recorded with Jon Davison (a news report says it was pre-recorded). Apparently they had his bass sitting out on stage with a spotlight on it as well, but I didn't notice/couldn't see it.
And then the band came out. Don't Kill the Whale - The Squire tribute continues. As straightforward of a rocker as Yes ever made, and they are better at playing that sort of thing than they were in the 70s. Total surprise, by the way. That song isn't played on many tours and was NEVER a concert opener. Downes had keyboard problems.
Tempus Fugit - The Squire tribute continues. Davison and Sherwood sang this song better than I've ever heard it sung. Sherwood's bass sounded GREAT here and throughout the show.
Jon Davison does a sort of call and response prayer thing for Squire. It's a little awkward, and I think he was making it up on the spot. JD: I want everyone to say "We love you, Christopher Squire"! Aud: WE LOVE YOU CHRISTOPHER SQUIRE! JD: "You will never be forgotten!" Aud: YOU WILL NEVER BE FORGOTTEN! JD: ...........Yeah..... AUD: YEAH!
America - Steve Howe pulls out the classic Gibson ES 175 and I am a happy boy. He played really well throughout the night. The band was better on this night than on any recording I've heard from 2008 on.
A note about the sound. Yes were LOUD. Louder than the 7-piece King Crimson. But clearer. Much better mix than Toto, and the live sound compensates for things that haven't really worked on record. Steve Howe uses less and less distortion as the years go by, but on a concert PA that guitar rings with absolute clarity. A drop in tempo is easier to take when the kick drum is so strong you feel it in your chest and the bass makes your clothes vibrate. There's plenty of sound, and no need to speed up. How to make that work on record, I don't know.
Time and a Word - Another surprise. I don't believe this has been played since 1996 or so. Lovely rendition.
Clap - Howe sat down to play it. Teased Astral Traveler in the beginning. He's been playing this piece since 1971 but he made it sound fresh and alive. And loud. I've never heard an acoustic guitar so loud.
I've Seen All Good People - Maybe the only song that was too slow, especially in the first half. But people loved it.
Siberian Khatru - Another surprise. Usually a set opener if they play it at all. Coming 2/3 through the set was a very different feel. Such a unique texture. No other song sounds like this. Downes never has found a (to my ears) satisfactory way to handle the trickier keyboard parts. Howe's solo was mostly in octaves. He really dug in. I was a happy boy.
Owner of a Lonely Heart - I didn't need to hear this one, but lots of people liked it. Steve Howe seems to have come around on playing this and least gave the appearance of being into it. He also played the strangest solo I've ever heard in this song - I think he knew what he was doing.
Roundabout - Howe used the Line6 guitar to emulate the acoustic parts. The middle section "along the drifting cloud" was percussion heavy.
E: Starship Trooper - Beautiful. I can't describe in words how beautifully balanced the sound was. The less-distorted guitar, the super-strong bass, the sparse (for Alan White) drumming all worked.
Highlights for me were Whale through Clap, and Khatru. And Trooper. They were better, much better, than any recording I've heard in the past 7 years, official o