Yes started off the show with a recording of Benjamin Britten’s “The Young Person’s Guide to the Orchestra.” Their first five songs were plucked in chronological order from their first five albums. The room started jumping with No. 3, “Yours is No Disgrace.”
“Yesterday a morning came, a smile upon your face Caesar’s palace, morning glory, silly human, silly human race, On a sailing ship to nowhere, leaving any place, If the summer change to winter, yours is no, Yours is no disgrace”
Originally formed in 1968, Yes played in Reno’s Grand Sierra Resort on Aug. 31 to a nearly packed house. Yes is a band that has gone through countless configurations with members coming and going over the years. The makeup of Thursday’s show contained none of the original members. However, with the exception of singer Jon Davison, who joined up in 2012, all other members have been long-term Yes members: Steve Howe – 1970, Alan White – 1972, Geoff Downs – 1980, and Billy Sherwood – 1994. Yes’ first successful album (“Yes The Album”) came in 1971 with the addition of Steve Howe to the band. Two of the original founding members, Chris Squire and Peter Banks have passed away, while the other three, Jon Anderson, Tony Kaye, and Bill Bruford have moved on to other projects.
When Yes played in Reno in 2013, they had recently signed Davison when their previous lead singer dropped out shortly before a tour was to begin. His level of comfort on stage with Yes has matured since then, as has he. He really felt like the frontman for the band this time. His voice is incredible. Replacing Jon Anderson is no easy task.
Howe was the other focal point of the show, with his lanky frame jumping around and posturing throughout the performance. He looked like a 21st century electrified version of Abe Lincoln. It was surprising to see him at 70 years old hopping and kicking sporadically all night. His playing was as sharp as ever. Having a reputation for being a little crotchety, he did try to get security’s attention to address an audience member up front that he was not happy with.
It was surprising to see two sets of drums before the show. Preshow information didn’t indicate anything other than Alan White on drums. When the show started, White was playing. By the third song, he was gone and the other drum set was occupied by Steve Howe’s son, Dylan, who did a great job. White came back out later. He’s only 68 so maybe he was a little bit under the weather.
Geoff Downes (member in early 1980s and again since 2011) nailed it on the keys. He was surrounded by a fleet of keyboards spread out in every direction, as far as the hands could reach. Following the death of founding member Chris Squire in 2015, Billy Sherwood is now playing the bass guitar. He had been a member of Yes in various capacities going back to 1991.
The well-seasoned audience gradually worked their way to the edge of the stage for the encore, waving their walking sticks and blackberries (Just kidding about that. They had iPhones). Yes finished up the show with “Roundabout,” one of their most commercially successful songs, and left to huge applause.