Steven Sullivan. You are correct when you say: Next up were a perfunctory 'All Good People' (that rocking problem again, and where were the giant bass pedals at the end of Your Move?), then side two of 'Close to the Edge', and here my spirits sank low from the ongoing contrast between what worked and what didn't. On top of that, there's his tendency since at least the 1990s to play behind the beat (like, during the intro to 'Siberian Khatru' .every.damn.time), and it's extremely distracting and 'distancing', for this fan. I was *hoping* that would happen during Siberian…but no, his solo didn't reach that place. And a studio-replica 'And You and I', while benefitting from nice Moog work by Downes, didn't spark into life either. Steven you are correct. No power at all, at all, at all for the transition from Your move into All Good People. Also, during And you and I, the coins and crosses section into eclipse was weak! The is YES music with Steve Howe and company! Waste of time trying to analyze. Used to be 5 gods from Mount Olympus on stage. Now there are 5 mere mortals, on stage, of which 1 used to be immortal. HOWE
Wednesday, September 14, 2016 1:02 PM
Steven Sullivan. You are correct when you say: Next up were a perfunctory 'All Good People' (that rocking problem again, and where were the giant bass pedals at the end of Your Move?), then side two of 'Close to the Edge', and here my spirits sank low from the ongoing contrast between what worked and what didn't. On top of that, there's his tendency since at least the 1990s to play behind the beat (like, during the intro to 'Siberian Khatru' .every.damn.time), and it's extremely distracting and 'distancing', for this fan. I was *hoping* that would happen during Siberian…but no, his solo didn't reach that place. And a studio-replica 'And You and I', while benefitting from nice Moog work by Downes, didn't spark into life either. Steven you are correct. No power at all, at all, at all for the transition from Your move into All Good People. Also, the coins and crosses section into eclipse was weak! The is YES music with Steve Howe and company! Waste of time trying to analyze. Used to be 5 gods from Mount Olympus on stage. Now there are 5 mere mortals, on stage, of which 1 used to be immortal. HOWE!
Tuesday, August 16, 2016 10:26 AM
Originally posted on Forgotten Yesterdays's Facebook page
// I've waited some days to post my review of the Staten Island NYC show, to give my thoughts a chance to distill. So here we go. I've been attending Yes concerts since 1976. Been a fan since a few years before that. Someone like me -- any fan of any band that's been through decades of 'changes' -- has to wrestle with stubborn, not totally fair expectations with every new concert, every new album. So, you try to listen with the most open heart and see if a spark ignites. When it happens, if it happens, the years fall away. Spoiler alert: it happened twice, maybe thrice, at the Tuesday show. It took awhile to happen, and it didn't hold, but twice, maybe thrice, was honestly 2 or 3 times more than I expected Drama was performed first, extremely competently, but with a sort of dutiful museum quality. The notes and tempos were mostly all there (Steve Howe missed a few of the faster ones) but it didn't really rock – by that I mean, make you *forget* about whether this part is 'played right' or missing or loud enough or fast enough or ….the music just lights up and burns away such quibbles. Was it just me, or did the rest of the audience seem a little dismayed too, as the excitement of the opening bars of 'Machine Messiah' devolved into something unsatisfying? Part of the problem was a certain sameness of level, a lack of true dynamics. When a song needed to step to the next level, it was too often anticlimactic, because the 'next' level wasn't that different from the 'first'. Hard to say if that was coming from the stage, or the sound system , which was worryingly set at shrieking treble level for 'The Young Person's Guide to Orchestra', though that translated to excellent clarity for the keyboards and guitar and vocals (something that is NOT always the case at Yes shows recently…)
…and yet, and yet: once we got through 'Into The Lens' (a song that's at least a chorus too long, sorry) , the spark finally ignited during Run Through the Light, of all things. You never can tell, it just worked, it was a pleasure to hear. 'Tempus Fugit', however, *needs* to be on fire, or it just doesn't fly. It wasn't and didn't, and maybe can't, not with Howe struggling to keep up at a tempo that keeps drawing attention to itself. It was frustrating really, because vocally, these guys were nailing it, including the brutally exposed 'Yessss' chord near the end.
Next up were a perfunctory 'All Good People' (that rocking problem again, and where were the giant bass pedals at the end of Your Move?), then side two of 'Close to the Edge', and here my spirits sank low from the ongoing contrast between what worked and what didn't. What was working for the whole show, surprisingly to me from his past performances, was Geoff Downes's sound and playing – he's really stepped up his game. No problems either with Sherwood, or pinch hitting drummer Jay Schellen (except that the bass could have used more midrange, and the drums needed to be LOUDER, period…sound board issues, I think, not player issues). They had their parts down and were doing interesting little things with them. Jon Davison's voice, always more a perfected Trevor Horn to me than a ringer for Jon Anderson, was in fine shape and got more impressive as the night went on, though he hasn't got Jon A's knack for altering the studio parts in interesting ways.
Which brings us to what worked less well.... It's not a new complaint, but Steve Howe persists in favoring unflatteringly distortion-lite guitar tones that highlight every clam. That's coupled with arrangements determined to be 100% faithful to the studio tracks, apparently from his desire to make the Yes concert experience as much like sitting at home listening to a Yes record, as possible….just so long as that record isn't Yessongs! On top of that, there's his tendency since at least the 1990s to play behind the beat (like, during the intro to 'Siberian Khatru' .every.damn.time), and it's extremely distracting and 'distancing', for this fan.
But then: he flings off a crazy solo or absurd new fingering that makes you forget all that.
I was *hoping* that would happen during Siberian…but no, his solo didn't reach that place. And a studio-replica 'And You and I', while benefitting from nice Moog work by Downes, didn't spark into life either.
So, things were fraught with the Tales portion coming up. My heart was open, but it was heavy. Would the mighty 'Revealing Science of God' just reveal itself as one airless segment after another, played 'well' but not making you give a damn? I'm happy to say no, that's not what happened. From the very start, with Davison carefully emphasizing the 'waltz' time of the opening chant , and the band adding each element one by one to a pulsing hot nucleus that plunges into a bass abyss , then explodes upwards into supernova, it was clear this was going to be special. Maybe they saved all their sparks for it? I've seen RSoG live performed by two band incarnations (with Wakeman at the SLO shows and after, and Igor/Billy on the OYE tour), I'm very familiar with 1974 NYC Tales show version, I know the studio record by heart of course…and this version, more stately than any since the early Tales shows in 1974, stands proud with any of them. I'd even say Downes captured the musical arc of the climactic Moog solo better than any of the other live performers, including by the guy with the cape who originated it. The only thing that was missing was that special chill of pleasure whenever the inimitable Anderson/Squire/Howe vocal harmony would sing out those words 'what happened to this song….' on those old recordings.
Steve Howe, having gritted up his sound for RSoG, was fully on-form now, and gave us a fine 'Leaves of Green' acoustic solo and accompaniment to Davison's singing. The northern English burr of Jon Anderson's voice was missed here, as elsewhere , but Davison (and Sherwood on backup) gave it his all and convincingly.
Then on to 'Ritual', which was also exceptional though not as stellar as RSoG. Downes again surprisingly up in the mix and taking care of business (unlike the disappointing Wakeman in 2004), and Billy Sherwood doing standout work on Squire's famous showcases. As a bass player I enjoyed hearing him faithfully navigate the murky studio line of the middle bass solo, something Squire stopped doing long ago, and enjoyed hearing him NOT replicate the shallow grandstanding Chris indulged in since the Masterworks tour. Instead Billy went off on his own improvisational path, and good for him. Howe had a bit of trouble in his fierce post-bass solo, one of my favorite bits in all Yes music, and there were some further peculiarities during the drum battle (*what* chords are you playing there, Mr. Downes?) but for the most part the band rode out the finale to the wistful minor key ending (interesting choice for ending a double album, I say) in good style.
I stuck around for the beginning of 'Roundabout', but it was suddenly back to the un-spirited feeling that had plagued the rest of the show, so I left partway through to catch the 11 pm ferry. I missed 'Starship Trooper' too, but I've seen enough of those to last a lifetime.
All said and done, the word I'd use to sum up the experience is: *bittersweet*. Part of that's the inevitable nostalgia of it all, the awareness of the passing of time; but certainly part of it, sometimes overwhelming me as I watched the show, was the heartbreak I still feel at the thought that Chris Squire is gone. It makes me wonder what it will take to get me to another Yes show. Other sides of Tales? A Relayer revival (how well would that work, anyway)? I honestly don't know.
added later Btw don't take my ruminations on last week's show as a recommendation 'not to go'. RSoG all by itself makes this show worth going to. And the rest of the Tales portion is icing on that cake, along with the surprisingly fine 'Run Through the Light'. It's a long show!
Paul J. Pelkonen, Superconductor Blogspot
Thursday, August 11, 2016 10:12 AM
Concert Review: A View From the Balcony Yes return to New York for this critic's "night off."
The British progressive rock band Yes returned to New York City on Tuesday night, with a three-hour show at the St. George Theater, a gorgeous 1929 palace located on Staten Island just a short climb from the Staten Island Ferry. The band's current show featured two whole sides of their 1973 opus Tales from Topographic Oceans and the entire Drama album, a 1980 record that has been largely forgotten by fans.
Since the 1970s, Yes have had as many as fifteen different musicians joining, departing and returning. This lineup featured stalwart guitarist Steve Howe, (now a grandfather) Geoff Downes on keys, and drummer Jay Schellen, a temporary replacement for Alan White, who is undergoing back surgery this summer. Recent additions Jon Davison and (bassist) Billy Sherwood handled vocals, creating the high vibrations and harmonies necessary to the celestial Yes sound.
With so many strange faces in the band, the question for fans remains: "is this Yes?" At Tuesday's performance, the answer was a resounding affirmative. Yes opened with the thunderous heavy metal chords of the ten-minute "Machine Messiah," placing Mr. Howe's guitar heroics front and center. Without a pause, Mr. Davison and Mr. Downes quickly segued into The brief "White Car" (at 1:19 the shortest song in the band's vast catalogue." It was followed by the driving "Does It Really Happen?" propelled by Mr. Sherwood's bass and Mr. Schellen's intricate, but energetic drumming.
"Into The Light" is an old track reworked from when Geoff Downes was keyboardist in The Buggles, its lyrics once dated but curiously appropriate to today's cell-phone culture. (Indeed, following the Drama set, Mr. Howe addressed fans who were using an iPad to film his performance down front, saying "that's just a bit much.") It was followed by "Run Through the Light" (with Mr. Sherwood switching to fretless bass and the pounding "Tempus Fugit," a song that remains the strongest cut on this underheard, under-played album.
Visually, this was the best Yes tour since the Roger Dean-designed "underwater forest" of 2004. A double LED proscenium showed inventive graphics that engaged the eye but didn't distract from the complex music. Projections on the risers for the keyboards and drums added to the trompe l'oiel effect. This was especially effective in the first older cuts of the night, an enthusiastic "I've Seen All Good People" and a propulsive "Siberian Khatru" complete with vistas of snow and ice.
The band took twenty minutes, returning with a gentle and lovely reading of "And You and I" from Close to the Edge. Here, Mr. Davison's contributions enabled this song to be performed in its original key, as he hit notes with his voice that Yes fans have spent many years yearning to hear again. The cheerful "The Preacher The Teacher" section even featured Mr. Sherwood on harmonica, a nice tribute to bassist and band founder Chris Squire, who died in 2015.
All that was warmup for "The Revealing Science of God" and "Ritual", (respectively) Side One and Side Four of the double album Tales from Topographic Oceans. In the capable hands of these musicans, these long-derided songs were not behemoths but epic works, shifting moods and colors over vast landscapes. Mr. Davison and Mr. Sherwood worked through the mystic lyrics with help from carefully placed iPads, but the impact of these huge songs was palpable and real. The graphics helped too, with projections of Roger Dean's album art, swimming jellyfish and waving anemones adding to the unearthly atmosphere.
Even the "drum circle" part in the middle of Ritual worked in this setting, with three of the Yes-men having a merry bash before the crescendo of the finale. This was all about Mr. Howe's guitar tone doing battle with Mr. Davison's voice, soaring through the simple, almost child-like song that ends this 23-minute track. A double encore of "Roundabout" and "Starship Trooper" sent the audience home happy, the latter gaining speed and barrelling like a freight train before coming to a majestic return to the song's original stately pace. [Link]