The long awaited Yes tour had finally landed at the Liverpool Philharmonic Hall. Following the sad news of the passing of drummer Alan White just prior to the tour kicking off, YES decided to go ahead with The Album Series Tour 2022 celebrating the 50th anniversary of their iconic album Close to the Edge, dedicating the tour to Alan. Jay Schellen would play drums.
The band line-up is Steve Howe (guitars and backing vocals), Geoff Downes (keyboards), Jon Davison (lead vocals), Billy Sherwood (bass guitar and backing vocals) with Jay Schellen (drums and percussion); a formidable band of virtuoso musicians, all with long and impressive pedigrees.
The evening began with Roger Dean, the artist behind those distinctive Yes album covers (amongst many, many other great works). He gave a potted history of his life in art. from his thesis to his work throughout the Years with Yes. He did this whilst projecting some great images on the screen behind him. A great, inspirational artist whose contribution has been immense.
It's incredible to believe that the Close To The Edge album is celebrating fifty years since it's release and the band would keep us waiting until their second set to hear it played live again.
There was a very poignant tribute to Alan White with projected images charting his career as one of the most colossal drummers of all time.
The band came on stage and they soon proceeded to cherry pick from their extensive back catalogue. They effortlessly meandered through On the Silent Wings of Freedom, Yours Is No Disgrace, No Opportunity Necessary, No Experience Needed (Richie Havens cover) and Does It Really Happen? before the Steve Howe acoustic solo, Clap. The line-up has evolved over the years (which can only be expected but the musicianship of the band members has always been of the top order.
The early hiccup with the microphones was soon rectified as they continued there barnstorming performance. Wonderous Stories was next followed by The Ice Bridge and Dare to Know before the fist set closer. the majestic Heart of the Sunrise.
There was a break for twenty minutes or so, just long enough for a quick refreshment and to ready ourselves for the highlight of the evening, the Close to the Edge album in its entirety. The complexity of such work is immense and the band were more than capable of delivering. Steve Howe was up to his expert best, nipping in and out with changes of rhythms, timings and some memorable solos. Billy Sherwood on bass guitar with Jay Schellen on drums was far greater than just a rhythm section, they intertwined the melodies and effortlessly flexed their considerable musical muscle. Geoff Downes was just fantastic on the keyboards; his playing immaculate and perfectly gluing the work together. Jon Davison 's lead vocals were sublime throughout the whole concert and especially here during the highlighted section. The vocal harmonies were as effective as when I first heard the album all those years ago; it was all just perfect. After completing the three tracks of the Close to The Edge album Close to the Edge, And You and I and Siberian Khatru, they left the stage. This wasn't for long as the audience demanded more. The band came on and performed a stirring performance Roundabout and a mesmeric rendition of Starship Trooper
Though the songs remain the same. they all sound as fresh as they ever did all those years ago. Band members have come and gone (and come again in some cases) but the phenomenon that is Yes lives on continually at the highest possible standards. A truly wonderful show from a truly wonderful band of expert musicians.