Concert Review - Yes

by Tim Sanford

Live at The Fillmore, Charlotte, NC  March 25, 2011

I still remember where I was the first time I heard Roundabout. I was in the car at the shopping mall with my mom, hearing it on AM radio thru tinny car speakers, Rick Wakeman's keyboards blew this 12-year-old piano student away. Thus began my love affair with prog rock in general and Yes in particular. My physical CD collection contains more discs from Yes than any other band. If you were my age back in the early 70s, you had Fragile at the least, and more than likely Close To The Edge and Yessongs as well.

yes 2011.jpg

Photo by the author

So it was with some trepidation that I went to see the current incarnation of Yes, consisting of Steve Howe, Chris Squire, Alan White, Rick Wakeman's son Oliver, and Benoit David, who the band discovered a couple of years ago singing in a Yes tribute band when Jon Anderson was unable to make their 40th anniversary tour due to illness.

Not to worry, the show was great. Chris Squire and Steve Howe still have their prodigious instrumental chops, and the trademark 3-part harmonies are still intact, they can both still sing. Speaking of singing, during "Close To The Edge" I told my buddy who went to the show with me "man, Benoit David is awesome, he was bad in some of the You Tube videos from this tour, but he's spot on". So then he proceeds to be noticeably flat during the soft part of the song. But he recovered and was amazingly good the rest of the show, I think he is actually better than Jon Anderson ever was. Also during this song, my buddy says "this is pretty good, but of course they are not as good as in their prime". Chris and Steve then proceed into a KILLER 2-man jam, at that point we quit passing judgments.

Highlights of the show were the video screen behind the band, which
showed animated versions of the Roger Dean album covers, along with
moving star fields, etc. Very trippy. The sound was good but not loud
enough. The crowd was my (middle) age, they sang along heartily on the
classics. I knew all the words to many of the songs, this music is
deeply ingrained upon my psyche. One non-classic highlight was Machine
Messiah (they performed 2 songs from the 1980 album Drama, which was
quite good in spite of being shunned by the true believers, since Jon
Anderson was not on it). Howe, Squire, and Wakeman played the song's
intricate licks in unison, which got the crowd fired up. Another
highlight was The Fish bass solo, although Chris was hamming it up, I'm
thinking "dude, you're one of the greatest bass players that ever lived,
WE KNOW THAT, you don't have to be so freakin' cheesy, just play!". As
noted before David, Howe and Squire were all excellent, Wakeman (buried
in the mix for the most part) and White were underwhelming. White is not
worthy to touch Bill Bruford's high-hat, huge difference between those
two, which I have always thought and was confirmed at this show. Steve
is way more animated than he was back in the day, looks like crazy Uncle
Egbert or something with his glasses, bald top, and flowing white
fringe.

All in all, I'm very glad I went, it reminded me of how
much this music has been part of my life's soundtrack. This was only my
second Yes show, the first being in Greensboro in 1978, the tour in
support of the infamous "Tormato" album, which is blamed along with
ELP's Works as being the death of prog rock. They were much better this
go-round, since the setlist was designed to please the faithful. The
thing that impressed me most was that the music did not sound dated in
any way, shape, or form, in spite of some of it being 40 years old,
that's probably due to bands like Porcupine Tree, The Flower Kings,
Transatlantic, The Mars Volta, et al keeping the genre alive. Long live
Prog!

Setlist:

Intro: Le Sacre du Printemps (Taped intro by Igor Stravinsky)
Parallels
Tempus Fugit
Yours Is No Disgrace
Soon
Close to the Edge
Steve Howe guitar solo - To Be Over
I've Seen All Good People
Machine Messiah
Owner of a Lonely Heart
Long Distance Runaround
White-Fish solo (including The Fish (Schindleria Praematurus))
Starship Trooper
Encore:
Roundabout

Comments

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  • How can you say that they were much better this go-round, since the setlist was designed to please the faithful. ARE YOU KIDDING ME!!!!! You're saying that the 2011 show was better than In The Round 1978. That's like saying you would rather have $1 in your bank account instead of $1,000,000,000. The 2011 shows are a pile of CRAP compared to any show from 1971 -1979. The 1978 show was beyond the point of comprehension, sound, musicianship, everything. The 2011 shows are are hollow, lousy, bland joke. almost like imposter trying to play YES music!!

  • How can you say that they were much better this go-round, since the setlist was designed to please the faithful. ARE YOU KIDDING ME!!!!! You're saying that the 2011 show was better than In The Round 1978. That's like saying you would rather have $1 in your bank account instead of $1,000,000,000. The 2011 shows are a pile of CRAP compared to any show from 1971 - 1979. The 1978 show was beyond the point of comprehension, sound, musicianship, everything. The 2011 shows are are hollow, lousy, bland joke. almost like imposters trying to play YES music!! Infact YES use to blow RUSH away in the 1970's. Now Rush blows YES away. YES is less than a shell of themselves. Rush is still loud, vibrant and grand. Then again right now it's not really YES. It's a half ass joke. Also you can't look at Alan White in 2011 and say he's not good. He's too old. He's spent! From 1972 -1979 Alan was absolutly awsome, amazing!! He can barley play now.

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