For anyone who has seen my profile picture on the site it may come as something of a surprise to find that I was too young to appreciate Yes during their 70’s heyday. No, for me my interest was piqued with the arrival in the Yes camp of a young guitarist called Trevor Rabin who brought the band’s sound bang up to date. The first album with Trevor in the band was 90125 and with Rabin’s writing input and a contemporary production job by Trevor Horn the band had a commercial success on their hands.
I caught the other half of Yes in concert a couple of years ago (the ones with the right to the name!) which proved to be a great night and also, unfortunately, the last tour before bass player Chris Squire passed away. When I saw this tour announced though with ‘my’ Yes I knew it was a must see and so when ARW announced their UK dates I was a happy man.
Walking into the auditorium it sounded a bit like being in an Indian restaurant with gentle sitar music being played over the PA, my son jokingly wondered if we would be offered a mint as we left? It wasn’t too long though before the lights dimmed and the band took to the stage and kicked things off with the instrumental ‘Cinema’. It was robbed of its impact to a certain extent by a very quiet PA which it appeared hadn’t been turned up from the sitar musings prior to the show. Things were soon sorted out though and by the time Jon Anderson joined the rest of the band onstage for ‘Perpetual Change’ the correct balance had been found.
Anderson may look small and a bit frail these days but vocally he can still hit the high notes of old. ‘Hold On’ was up next with great guitar work from Rabin and all the harmonies were spot on. The set was a celebration of Yes through the years reflecting both the more commercial 80’s and the full prog pomp of the 70’s. To emphasise the pomp past Rick Wakeman was sporting a full fur trimmed cloak and held court behind a large array of keyboards, the only thing missing was the takeaway curry to eat during the set!
‘Seen All Good People’ was a real crowd pleaser which had the audience singing along and it was followed with a short but impressive drum solo from Louis Molino. Molino and bass player Lee Pomeroy, more on whom later, proved to be a very talented and highly skilled rhythm section who made the complex Yes time changes look easy, no mean feat.
A mention of the seminal Yes album ‘Close To The Edge’ drew a huge cheer during the introduction to ‘And You and I’ which shows that the old songs are still perceived as the best. That’s not to say that the 90125 era tracks were any less well received with both ‘Rhythm Of Love’ and ‘Changes’ being greeted with equal enthusiasm.
During the introduction to ‘The Fish’ Jon Anderson paid tribute to the late Chris Squire which raised a cheer. This track let bass player Lee Pomeroy step forward into the spotlight in the Squire role with some stunning playing. Pomeroy’s bass playing was amazing and I am sure Squire would have given his seal of approval.
If the crowd were hoping for the authentic Yes experience then an epic version of ‘Awaken’ would have satisfied even the most ardent fan. This sprawling colossus of a track also brought Wakeman’s keyboard skills to the fore in all its majestic glory. From quiet piano passages to hall shaking church organ blasts Rick was the master of all he surveyed and the intervening 40 years melted away, a true epic in every sense.
Only one track could round things off and as Rabin cranked out the opening riff to ‘Owner Of A Lonely Heart’ the crowd took to its feet. Halfway through the track Wakeman donned a keytar and joined Rabin in a walk around the hall, pausing for a quick breather at the mixing desk, who says old rockers can’t have a bit of a laugh! A quick encore of ‘Roundabout,’ complete with the Glasgow choir in good voice, finished off a fantastic night which left no one unsatisfied.
This show proved to be all I hoped it would be and allowed me to hear the 90125 era songs which were part of the soundtrack to my teenage years in a live setting. Anderson Rabin and Wakeman proved that quality music ages well and a talented musician never loses the gift. Even the lack of a complimentary mint when leaving the hall couldn’t spoil the night!
Review and photos by Dave Wilson
David Randall presents a weekly show on Get Ready to ROCK! Radio, Sundays at 22:00 BST (GMT+1, repeated on Mondays and Fridays), when he invites listeners to ‘Assume The Position’. This show was first broadcast on 23 August 2020.
UK Blues Broadcaster of the Year (2020) Pete Feenstra presents his weekly Rock & Blues Show on Tuesday at 19:00 ( BST, GMT+1) as part of a five hour blues rock marathon “Tuesday is Bluesday at GRTR!”. The show is repeated on Wednesdays at 22:00, Fridays at 20:00). This show was first broadcast 25 August 2020.
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