Yes @ Symphony Hall, Birmingham – Friday 24th June 2022
June 25, 2022
Another much delayed tour finally called at Birmingham’s Symphony Hall as Yes marked the fiftieth anniversary of Close to the Edge, their landmark 1972 album often regarded as their best. This tour was originally slated to celebrate the Relayer album but the postponements over the last couple of years prompted a change of plan by Steve Howe & Co. Howe has stated that the current line-up are ready and willing to present all eras of Yes music and tonight’s show was no exception as aside from all of Close… the set spanned songs from 1970’s Time and A Word through 2021’s well received The Quest.
The evening began with a short chat and slideshow presentation from artist Roger Dean discussing his long career and some of those wonderful album covers and logos he has created through the years. There was then a moving and heartfelt tribute to the late Alan White who sadly passed last month after having spent fifty years behind the drum kit. Keeping with tradition, The Firebird Suite welcomed the band to the stage with Steve Howe joined by Geoff Downes, Billy Sherwood, Jon Davison and drummer Jay Schellen, no stranger to Yes audiences as he has regularly deputised for White over the last few years. ‘On the Silent Wings of Freedom’ was a surprise opening number as one of the bands lesser played songs and they quickly moved into more familiar territory with ‘Yours is No Disgrace’, Davison’s voice ringing out loud and clear and the intricacies of each individual musicians’ instrument being discernible courtesy of Symphony Hall’s wonderful acoustics.
For the rest of the first half they dipped in and out of the Yes songbook including Howe’s trademark solo performance of ‘Clap’ when we could only marvel at his dexterity and the jaunty ‘Does it Really Happen?’ from 1980’s Drama that was highlighted by Sherwood’s insistent bass riff. A glorious ‘Heart of the Sunrise’ then closed out the first set. Ambient sounds welcomed the band back on stage for the second half that ushered in the epic ‘Close to the Edge’; Sherwood’s ascending bass being a particular highlight before the shuffling time changes and poetic lyrics lead into the “I get up, I get down” section that set the scene for the triumphant finale. A song that for many bands would be impossible to follow and yet Yes have got more than one prog masterpiece up their sleeves as the next two songs proved. ‘And You And I’ was, as always, simply wonderful before the powerful ‘Siberian Khatru’ highlighted the delicate interplay between Howes, Downes and Sherwood and saw the band depart to a raucous standing ovation.
Summoned back for more, Yes closed out the evening with long time live favourites ‘Roundabout’ and ‘Starship Trooper’. Purists may point to the fact that with White’s passing Howe is now the last man standing from their classic era, but tonight’s show proved that this current line-up can do justice to the bands legacy and, with more new music on the horizon, continue to delight Yes audiences around the globe.
On the Silent Wings of Freedom Yours Is No Disgrace No Opportunity Necessary, No Experience Needed Does It Really Happen? Clap Wonderous Stories The Ice Bridge Dare to Know Heart of the Sunrise
It's a definite Yes from me as prog rock masters return
This was labelled as the tour celebrating the 50th anniversary of the iconic progressive rock album Close to the Edge. But prog rock pioneers Yes also treated their loyal fans to more than half a century of their stand-out music as they delivered a tremendous performance at Birmingham's Symphony Hall. Yes, featuring timeless lead guitarist Steve Howe - who joined the band in 1970 - performed Close To The Edge in its entirety, and in chronological order, in the second half of this concert. But, before then, the band delivered a selection of songs from several albums spanning ten years from 1970 to 1980, before visiting their latest release from just last year. The evening got underway at a packed Symphony Hall with a poignant tribute to long-term drummer, Alan White, who sadly died in May. The tour, which had twice been postponed due to Covid, has been dedicated to Alan, who joined Yes in 1972, The tribute took the form of a series of images of Alan across the years, displayed on a high-definition video wall directed by Roger Dean, who created the artwork for the band's albums. The giant screen later showed a variety of stunning artwork and graphics, as well as fabulous videos including winter scenes.
Yes, with lead singer Jon Davison in excellent voice in the unmistakeable mould of founder member Jon Anderson, opened the concert with On The Silent Wings Of Freedom from their 1978 album Tormato. As Howe said, it was the first time they had performed the song live for 35 to 40 years. The same could not be said of Yours Is No Disgrace which followed, a brilliant extended rendition of the song from The Yes Album (1971). This was followed by No Opportunity Necessary, No Experience Needed from the 1970 Time And A Word album, and Does It Really Happen from Drama, released a full decade later. The band, which also comprises Jay Schellen on drums, Geoff Downes (keyboards), and Billy Sherwood (bass guitar), then left the stage for Howe to perform solo on The Clap, before returning for Wonderous Stories from Going For The One (1977) and a couple of splendid tracks from last year's The Quest album.
The first half was completed in wonderful style with Heart Of The Sunrise from 1971 album Fragile, before the band launched into Close To The Edge at the start of their second set. Each 'track' was greeted with a standing ovation - the first side featuring Total Mass Retain and I Get Up I Get Down, followed immediately afterwards with And You And I and Siberian Khatru which make up side two. And if that wasn't enough to fully satisfy the audience, Yes returned to the stage for a fully deserved encore that started with Roundabout and ended with Starship Trooper from Fragile and The Yes Album respectively.
1. On The Silent Wings Of Freedom 2. Yours Is No Disgrace 3. No Opportunity Necessary, No Experience Needed 4. Does It Really Happen 5. The Clap 6. Wonderous Stories 7. The Ice Bridge 8. Dare To Know 9. Heart Of The Sunrise 10. Close To The Edge album in full 11. Roundabout 12. Starship Trooper