Sunday, August 28, 2016
Yes in Concert
Mostly I was glad that there were empty seats to sit in and it was a balmy evening. The crowd wasn't sparse, but it wasn't packed, either. The crowd was mostly Baby Boomers or Gen X, with a few youngsters thrown in.
It was called an "Album Tour," and that's because the set list played a couple of albums in their entirety. They started with the 1980 album Drama, which was an interesting choice, as it doesn't really have any of their famous songs on it and it was the only album that featured Trevor Horn on vocals. My girlfriend, who knows the hits, was a little disappointed. They did close the first half of the show with the very recognizable "I've Seen All Good People."
The second half of the show played sides 1 and 4 of Tales from Topographic Oceans, a 1973 album that only had one song per side, each clocking in at about twenty minutes (it became a favorite of late-night college DJs who could slap a side on while attending to other things, such as having sex in the studio). This album was the brainchild of Jon Anderson and Steve Howe, and so alienated keyboardist Rick Wakeman that he left the band. It's not a marvelous choice to play live, unless the audience is stoned or on acid. Thus, the crowd was very hushed and several people stood off to the side, talking and drinking beer.
The only time the crowd got up and moved was their first encore, "Roundabout," probably the song most played on classic rock radio. Grateful for something with a beat and recognizable, it was finally a chance to boogie.
The line-up on stage was interesting. The "classic line-up" I know is Howe, Wakeman, Chris Squire, Allen White, and Anderson. Squire is dead, Anderson and Wakeman have formed their own band, and White was wished a speedy recovery from some kind of malady. That left only Howe on stage from the days of the '70s, though keyboardist Geoff Downes has been with the band a long time. The new lead singer is John Davison, who sounds uncannily like Anderson. Howe, now 69, looked the worse for wear after years of hard living, occasionally reminding me of The Crypt Keeper. But he can still play guitar.
Though I think the album concept was wrong (no "Owner of a Lonely Heart?" no "Long Distance Runaround?") it made for a pleasant evening under the stars. Yes, who have long been ignored by the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame (who have something against prog-rock) are a band that ignites debate, as their excesses can remind one of Spinal Tap. But they put on a good show. And my girlfriend enjoyed herself and got a t-shirt.