Yes played the Netherlands Yesterday and I was there. I've seen Yes about ten times (starting from 1977) and this was one of the best shows. The band were playing very tight and the energy was high. The ambience was great, the crowd was silent when needed, with respect (even Steve was surprised by that), and especially the visuals made the concert one long fantastic experience. Now, what was the most striking, was the over-fantastic setlist. Offcourse, a few usual 'fan favorites' needed to be played, but boy, a concert with (in a row) South Side Of the Sky, Onward, Mood For A Day, Wondrous Stories, Parallels, And you and I, and, after the break, 2.5 songs from Topographic, that's just incredible! I had goosebumps (and more) in quite a few/(many!) moments, it was such an epic experience. All members were in great, great shape and they really formed a band! What to say about them... Steve was the leader, he was enjoying himself (and us) tremendously, and played very emotional. Billy is an amazing Bass player, nailed all Squires parts, and still does it very respectful to his mentor. (OK, my pants were allmost blown away during And You And I) Geoff Downes, he was truly very good. Some shortcuts here and there around the more difficult Wakeman solo's, he was loud in the mix and had fantastic sound choices. His playing was very tasteful on all instruments. Jay Shellen played most of the gig, only to be replaced by Alan White in the last part of the show, starting with the drumsolo in Ritual. Jay is a fantastic drummer, and along with Billy they make a real good rhythm section for the future! The real highlight to me, and I was very surprised with that, as I skipped the last Yes concerts in the Netherlands, was Jon Davison. OK, I think he got some little help from technology (doubling his vocals sometimes), but boy, he was fantastic. Very, VERY emotional, very accurate singing and very powerful. I have never heard anyone singing so good as he did. And what a lovely stage presence. I don't think that without him they could have played such an emotional setlist. That, with the amazing Video walls which really captured the right moods, made this concert, as stated before, an experience I will not forget!
Wednesday, March 28, 2018 4:12 AM
Where to start......
Let me start my saying that I think we as fans, and most probably the band itselve, have severly underestimated the impact Chris Squire's passing had on the band when it happened and for the year, year and a half that followed. The impact emotionally and the impact of restructuring the band. What I witnessed two years ago (the 2016 Europe tour of Drama/Fragile), in hindsight admittedly, was a band that was still licking its wounds, that was still more or less sedated by the experience, a band that was still getting used to having lost their great anchor, a band that was still getting used to the new situation with members still getting used, or perhaps even searching for, to their new role within the band and its performance.
What I saw last night was a band where everyone was perfectly comfortable with their (new) role in the band, perfectly comfortable with one another and a true tight unit. Steve has truly embraced the role of leader of the band, and showcases himself as such, being much more engaging and outgoing with the audience, having a laugh, making a joke and apparantly wants to lead the band by example and was completely on fire with his playing, bursting with energy. Billy is more reserved, comes to the forefront when needed, but is absolutely the backbone to the performance, together with Jay who brought both thunder and subtility where and when either was fitting to the song. Geoff has locked in with the material he is playing, as if he had found a new understanding for it, he IMO seems to have found a personal connection to it and it shows in his choice of sounds and overall soundscape as well as in his playing and Jon Davison not only has the voice to pull it all off, but also has found his comfort in the delivery of the material (of which he speaks himself in the tourbook, but more on that later on in the approrpiate thread).
I'm going to step on some dangerous ground now: as much as I loved Alan being there and, given his significance to 50 years of Yes, as much as I think he deserves to be there on this tour and the subsequent US tour celebrating 50 years of Yes, I think if his condition/situation does not improve he should turn over the touring drumstool in Yes permantly to Jay Schellen (I'll happily have Alan featuring on a studio album if that comes to pass). While he was still good on Roundabout and Starship Trooper (but I do feel there was a drop in energy in Ritual when he took over from Jay), I can't help but think, given what had been going on before that with Jay on the drumstool in the concert, whether those songs would have even been more powerfull if Jay would've been on them. I love Alan and have immense respect for him and his 46 years in Yes, think Drama, Relayer and Tales feature some of the best drum performances in rock music, but for me the current situation is not a sustainable one and the Shellen/Sherwood rhythm section is one of enourmas potential I feel.
The setlist was the same as other nights. Steve was on fire from the get go, but the rest of the band I felt were warming up during YIND and ISAGP. Sweet Dreams was when the band really came into their flow and it didn't disappear for the rest of the evening. Loved that they did the QPR concert arrangement of the song, it really worked well. Most noticble on Soutside of the Sky was the absense of harmony vocals. Apart from the "Lalala" section, Davison sung the song solo. At previous outings, before this tour, I thought Billy was doing Squire's vocal parts. Good rendition though. Onward was an excellent and moving tribute to Chris, some emotion there with both the band and the audience. Mood for a Day was I think the best I've ever seen Steve play it, superb. Wonderous Stories was also excellent. Parallels was good and vocally (harmony vocals) much better than what I've heard on the March 18 bootleg. After this Steve commented to the audience, who were listening with attention but not moving much, that "this is a rock show, come on people loosen up", which had the rest of the band laughing. What followed was one of the best renditions (the best still being London 2004) of AYAI I've ever heard and saw. They really pulled out all the stops and the band deservingly got an ovational applause, which led the band and us into intermission.
The second set with Tales is for me one of the best Yes performances I have been to myself (started in 1989 with ABWH). It was all executed with enourmas precision, devotion and craftmanship. Actually, throughout the whole show the respect and love for the music they were playing was tangible. The light show and backdrop video was also complementing to the whole experience. Very tasteful.
How strange it may sound after 50 years, the Yes I witnessed last night is a Yes that is actually ready for a future (that is Howe/Downes/Sherwood/Davison/Schellen). If they can hold on to the energy and vibe that is with the band now, then I surely hope they will record new music, because if they can translate that energy, vibe, focus and joy to an album it has a real chance of becoming a truly special album.
All in all a very worthwhile experience and heavily recommended!