The progressive rock band performed the entire "Close to the Edge" album, celebrating its 50th anniversary, at two Philadelphia area shows.
Dino Ciliberti Sun, Oct 9, 2022
GLENSIDE, PA—YES is not the type of band you see in concert to hear the hits.
This umpteenth version of the legendary progressive rock band would rather dip into its vast catalogue dating back to 1968 and play songs that only true fans can appreciate.
You’re always going to hear “Roundabout,” the classic that went to No. 13 on the charts in 1972 and basically broke the group in America. And then came “Close to the Edge” later that year, the group’s highest charting album at No. 3.
That’s what these Yesmen focused on. In celebration of the album’s 50th anniversary, YES played the three-song prog rock masterpiece in its entirety during two shows Friday and Saturday at the Keswick Theatre on its only stop in the Philadelphia area.
This version of the group is led by guitar virtuoso Steve Howe, who joined the group in 1971 for “The Yes Album.” That album drew as much of the spotlight with “Yours is No Disgrace” at the beginning and show closing classic “Starship Trooper” at the end. Howe tossed in his little acoustic ditty “Clap” alone on stage for good measure early in the show.
YES has always prided itself on creating song sections within their songs. That’s why albums like “Relayer” and “Close to the Edge” only feature three songs. But each sometimes lasts between 10-20 minutes.
The show was played in two sets besides the two encores: The “Close” album was spotlighted during the second set.
The first set featured “Disgrace” and “Clap” as mentioned, two new songs from last year’s “The Quest,” the always wonderful “Wonderous Stories,” an upbeat “No Opportunity Necessary, No Experience Needed” from its second album and an impressive set-closing take of “Heart of the Sunrise.”
What makes YES unique is starting off a show with an obscure track that’s dusted off from 44 years ago in “On the Silent Wings of Freedom,” from 1978’s “Tormato,” a clever album title combing a tomato and a tornado.
This isn’t the classic version of the band. While Howe commands the stage, gone are keyboard extraordinaire Rick Wakeman, drummer Alan White, bassist Chris Squire and lead singer Jon Anderson.
Squire, the band’s heart, died in 2015. White passed away in late May. Before the show started, a tribute to White was shown on screen. Keyboardist Geoff Downes doesn’t get the credit for working the keys. Remember though, he was a powerhouse with Howe in the 1980s supergroup Asia and also launched MTV with “Video Killed the Radio Star.”
Anderson, the group’s long-time vocalist, is a solo act these days, having performed the entire “Close” as well at the same venue in July.
But if you closed your eyes Friday night, you would think Anderson was right there on stage.
No, that’s Jon Davison, who sounds like a younger Anderson of the 1970s and can match the sounds and mannerisms of the legendary vocalist.
Bassist Billy Sherwood has Squire down perfectly. He even wears the cape. And while Jay Schellen can never match White, he hammers away at the kit, keeping in lock with Sherwood.
“Close to the Edge” was note perfect throughout. Howe was majestic in his riffing and finger picking, trading from electric to acoustic to even slide guitar for pieces.
The title song hummed along in its progressive chord changes on a dime, shifting from heavy bass and guitar to Davison’s soaring “I Get Up, I Get Down” section that repeated throughout the 18-minute song.
“And You and I” followed and that’s definitely a crowd pleaser. “Siberian Khatru” is more a straight-ahead rocker and the perfect song to bring the audience to its feet and close the second set.
YES has had a long history. This version kept that legacy intact.
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Tuesday, November 8, 2022 4:38 PM
Well it was exactly a year ago (10/7/21) that I last attended this venue for Atlanta Rhythm Section and Orleans, and I remember it being a bit of a mess for them. They were enforcing a facemasks/proof of vaccinations scenario and people who had bought tickets...who had not gotten the shots or objected to the masks...stayed away and hurled some colorful language at the Keswick via Facebook. Pure Prairie League had to drop off the bill since someone in their entourage had contracted COVID. Last night we were pretty much back to normal as this was completely sold out and I had gone online just in time to grab one of the last seats. Had to pay extra in service charges, including a $6 (!) charge for WILL CALL. But if I hadn't done that, I would've been hit with a sold out situation after driving all the way up there. Sometimes ya gotta bite the bullet... I was looking forward to this year's tour as I hadn't seen Yes since 2009 and really liked their new album, The Ice Bridge. Glad they had room for two of the new songs, The Ice Bridge and Dare To Know...my two favorites. The second set of the night was their performance of the whole Close to the Edge album. Was disappointed that they dropped 1980's Does it Really Happen, which they had been playing earlier in the tour. The special effects are now all on the three screens behind them....videos, Roger Dean art, etc. No more dry ice & smoke, like Paul & I saw at the Tower in 2009, the last time I saw them. And now the Keswick has a sort of lounging room beside the box office that tonight featured a showing of Roger Dean's art. The guy sitting next to me, Otto, said this was his 30th Yes show. I told him it was only my 13th. I was a baby compared to him. LOL! Another guy I met in the lobby, Will, was only 33. This was only his second. And with the recent deaths of drummer Alan White and bassist Chris Squire, Yes is now down to only classic era guitarist Steve Howe. Singer Jon Anderson was forced to step aside due to illness in 2008, but I've heard through the grapevine that it's now a monetary issue. Anderson tours on his own now...after briefly taking out another version of Yes back in 2016-2017 with Rick Wakeman & Trevor Rabin. Asia keyboardist Geoff Downes has been back in Yes since 2011 and Billy Sherwood, after having studied at the feet of his best friend Chris Squire, now is practically a clone of Squire on vocals/bass...down to the long type coat that Chris used to wear. Jon Davison is lead singer (since 2012) and former Asia drummer Jay Schellen has taken over percussion duties. At the very beginning of the concert, there was a touching video tribute to late drummer Alan White. Otto, who hadn't seen Yes in years, told me he was quite impressed with this show and the new material, as was I.