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Yes Concert Reviews: 4/7/13

Here is another addition to my series of Yes music posts.  I started this series here and you can read the others here.

I saw the progressive rock band Yes play at the Sands Casino Resort in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania on April 7, 2013 during the their Three Album Tour.  You can read more about this show here.

The line-up Yes fielded at this show was:

The set Yes played was (the album from which the song comes in parenthesis):

Recollections:

This was my second time seeing the Davison led line up and my third seeing Downes in the keyboard slot.  It was abundantly clear that Yes wanted to reestablish itself after some less than great shows at the end of the Benoit David era and was confident in this line up as it boldly attempted, quite successfully to my mind, to play three complete albums from its classic era in a row, namely Close to the Edge, The Yes Album, and Going for the One (with the obligatory “Roundabout” as an encore of course!).

I will leave my comments about Davison and his recruitment to my post regarding the 2012 show; suffice it to say here, Davison was in fine voice this evening and he is a more than capable vocalist for Yes.  His demeanor and approach is very much in the vein of Jon Anderson and, perhaps due to that, Davison fits into Yes like a hand into a glove.  The band was tight and performed all of the material expertly.

I have no complaints at all about the performance, except to say that Downes shortened the intro to “Awaken” and seemed to try to be faithful to the original recordings a little too much for my taste (though some of this may have been by design to keep faithful to the albums for this tour as he did not play a solo at the end of “Starship Trooper” as that does not appear on the album, they did a fade out for “I’ve Seen All Good People” as it happens on the album as well, and the “Yours is No Disgrace” guitar solo was short as it was on the album instead of the extended solo that is typically done live).  In saying that, “Awaken” was amazing; Davison played percussion into the microphone while he sang and reproduced the harp parts on a keyboard.  Downes’ rendition of the pipe organ middle section made one forget about Rick Wakeman momentarily.  The climax at the end included a blizzard of confetti, which was a really fun effect.  I tried to take some pictures to capture that moment, which you can see below.  My only complaint about “Awaken” is White’s drumming is getting thinner and thinner as he ages and it really takes the power away from the piece.  Also, and this is not really a complaint but more of an observation, Downes changed some of the keyboard arrangements in “Awaken” as well.  As I stated above, the first is that he shortens the opening piano introduction a little for some inexplicable reason.  The second is his keyboard arrangement during Howe’s first guitar solo.  Wakeman’s keyboards are very active – as Wakeman tends to be generally anyway  – during this first part of the guitar solo.  Wakeman plays ascending and descending scales very quickly almost to double Howe’s fast runs on guitar, which, I think, makes this section sound even more frenetic and exciting.  By contrast, Downes opts not to play anything at all during this section in order to allow Howe to have the entire spotlight, and it gives this section a sound that is somewhat more sparse than to what one may be accustomed.  Conversely, however, during the second part of Howe’s solo, Wakeman’s playing becomes somewhat understated whereas Downes elects to play hard edged and rapidly played chords when Howe quickly swipes chords on guitar, to make his accompaniment of the solo in this section a lot more exciting and aggressive sounding than Wakeman’s arrangement.  Downes also added a little intro to “Wonderous Stories.”

I remain disappointed that Howe continues to use a synthesizer guitar instead of his usual arsenal of guitars, but I think that is something that will not change for the foreseeable future.  This show was the first time I ever heard “A Venture” played live (in fact, this was the first tour they ever played it live) and for a short little song, it came across well.  As I hoped, they extended the long piano solo fade out for a few minutes; that was a highlight of the show for me.  Despite having a very fluid line up, this particular line up seemed to reproduce the older material really well and faithfully. At the end of the show I had opportunity to run up to the stage for some close up shots, which you can also see below.

Best of all, this show really showed a band on the upswing and willing to show that they are just as good as any other iteration of Yes.  This show was powerful and revealed a revitalized band on their way out of their doldrums in 2010 and 2011.

Finally, the venue was really nice.  The sound carried well and even though I was toward the side, I still heard a decent mix.  I guess my opposition to casino shows is exclusive to New Jersey as this casino had a full-length show with good fans, as opposed to a shortened show and merely curious (and often tipsy) ticket buyers from the gamblers in the casino.

Photographs: Enjoy the photographs I took at the show posted below!

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8 thoughts on “Yes Concert Reviews: 4/7/13

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