Yes Concert Reviews: 2/12/10
I saw the progressive rock band Yes play at the Tropicana Casino & Resort in Atlantic City, New Jersey on February 12, 2010 during the third part of their In The Present Tour. You can read more about this show here. Starting with the Yes show I saw in 2008 and concluding with the Yes show I saw in 2013, I attended each one with my friend and former neighbor Mike March, so he and I went to this one together as well He has incredible luck in getting good seats, including front row seats (which I will describe in a future post) and this show was no exception!
The line-up Yes fielded that show was:
- Benoit David: lead vocals, percussion, guitar
- Steve Howe: guitars, backing vocals
- Chris Squire: bass guitars, backing vocals
- Alan White: drums, percussion
- Oliver Wakeman: keyboards
The set Yes played was (the album from which the song comes in parenthesis):
- Intro: Firebird Suite
- Siberian Khatru (Close To The Edge)
- I’ve Seen All Good People (The Yes Album)
- Tempus Fugit (Drama)
- Astral Traveller (Time And A Word)
- Yours Is No Disgrace (The Yes Album)
- And You And I (Close To The Edge)
- Owner Of A Lonely Heart (90125)
- Machine Messiah (Drama)
- Heart Of The Sunrise (Fragile)
- Encore: Roundabout (Fragile)
This show was the third of four shows I saw this line-up perform over the course of its In the Present Tour which spanned the better part of three years (2008 – 2010). I saw this line up also perform in 2011 for its final tour called the Rite of Spring Tour.
To date, I have seen this lineup perform more often than any other though, sadly, it was the weakest of the Yes lineups I have seen. When I review the other shows of this lineup I will discuss in greater detail its origins, strengths, and weaknesses. Suffice it to say here, in September 2004 I saw the classic Yes line up perform for the last time (you can read about that here) and, after that tour, Yes went on hiatus. In 2008 Yes reformed with Jon Anderson continuing as lead vocalist but without Rick Wakeman due a conflict with his prior commitments. To replace Rick Wakeman, Yes hired on his son Oliver Wakeman to play keyboards, who is a very skilled keyboard player in his own right. This quintet went ahead and scheduled the Close to the Edge and Back Tour. Unfortunately, this tour was cancelled due to Jon Anderson suffering a severe asthma attack. Controversially Yes went forward without Jon Anderson and hired Youtube Yes cover singer sensation Benoit David to replace him.
Due to Yes now touring without the man who is considered to be the band’s face, soul, primary composer and lyricist, and inspiration (Jon Anderson) and without their long time and most popular keyboardist (Rick Wakeman), they decided to tour the crap out of this new lineup. Losing Jon Anderson was a huge blow to their image, identity, and to their fan base, and Yes felt they had to pull out the stops to reassure the fans that Yes is still, well, Yes. So, they toured practically non-stop for over four years to get as much exposure as possible and to convince the fans that Yes is still the band it has always been. In an attempt to up the ante on their trying to reassure the fans of their Yes-cred, they played some real deep cut rarities and toured with a stage set designed by Roger Dean to boot.
As the old saying goes, hindsight is twenty-twenty. One of the excuses I use with my wife when I buy tickets to Yes shows year after year is that, due to their age and decline in popularity, any show I go to could be the last one. So, I always make sure to faithfully go and see them whenever they come close to my hometown of Philadelphia in case it may be my last. Unfortunately, looking back, I have to sheepishly admit that out of the five shows I saw from November 2008 to April 2011, I probably could have skipped at least two of them. Yes toured with the same line-up and basically the same set list the entire time and, if I can be frank, it got a little tiresome to see the same songs for years on end. This show was one of the shows I probably could have skipped. I could have skipped it because I saw them in November 2008 and July 2009 and was about to see them again in June 2010. Also, this show was a casino show which, in my experience, is significantly worse than a show anywhere else. It is worse because (1) I have to drive at least 75 minutes to the show; (2) it takes place in a craphole city (Atlantic City); (3) a fair amount of the audience got tickets at the casino for something fun to do but were not really fans and, therefore, spent the show being drunk and talking instead of involved in the show; and worst of all, (4) the set list is shorter than usual due to casino rules. So, if I had to be completely honest, I probably did not need to go see this show (along with probably April 2011) – just don’t tell me wife I said that – but my inability to know the future caused me not realize the above until it happened.
I have to say that this line up started out with a lot of promise and sounded really great in 2008. Unfortunately, as I will get into greater detail in future posts, David’s voice just could not hold up as Yes’ lead vocalist in the long term, especially in a live context. Looking back, there is clearly an arc for his voice where it was really good and strong in the 2008 and 2009 shows I saw, started to decline in 2010, and through the two 2011 shows I saw his voice was clearly deteriorated. This show is probably the top of the arc and was probably the last show where his voice was able to endure the rigors of an entire Yes show. Also, in order to accommodate his now deteriorating voice, Yes started noticeably slowing some parts down a bit to help him through them.
The set list was great and the band played well as always. They were playing rarities from Drama (only ever played in 1980) and they played “Astral Traveller,” a great song that had not been played since 1970. The remainder of the set was pretty “standard” for Yes, and even included Steve Howe playing “Owner of a Lonely Heart.” Unfortunately, as I mentioned above, the novelty and excitement of these songs started to wane at this point as it was the third time I saw them in a row and that is coupled with the fact that, due to casino restrictions, Yes dropped “Onward,” a Steve Howe solo spot, “South Side of the Sky,” and “Starship Trooper” from its set list.
All in all Yes is always great for me so I really enjoyed the show because, for me, even the negatives noted above cannot take away the excitement and enjoyment of a Yes show. So, needless to say I enjoyed the show as always. In saying that, I cannot help but to admit that I did feel a tinge of sadness as, at the end of this show, I thought Yes was in the decline considering their weakening singer, a keyboard player who was not showing much individuality (I will expand on that when I post about the 2009 show), slower songs, a stage set showing some wear-and-tear after three years of touring, and an unchanging set list. I was concerned that the loss of Anderson, and the unlikelihood if his return, would spell the end of this band. As as result of their apparent decline, I was motivated to see them in quick succession over the next couple of years as I thought they would fold at the end of any given tour. Have no fear, though, as Yes has rebounded nicely and then some starting in late 2011 and I will review those shows when the time comes.
As usual, I took some photographs of this show and you can see them below. Enjoy!