I thought this fairly long concert review was worthy of inclusion on the blog, so here it is for all you YES-fans! Have fun!
Yes reveal cognisance of funky rock`n`roll
Who said STEVE CLARKE doesn`t have a sense of humour?
Yes`s current British tour could be compared to The Faces` trek around the isle late last year, when their general excellence restored the band`s status as one of rock`s finest performing bands.
On Friday night at Glasgow`s Apollo Theatre, Yes`s set culminated in a series of performances collectively and individually which made the gig one of the most impressive and enjoyable rock concerts this reporter has seen since Steely Dan gave their all at Manchester nigh on a year ago.
Yes, they were good, their music for the greater part of the show taking on a status approximately ten times as fine as the limp set I witnessed them play at Manchester`s Free Trade Hall around the time of release of “Tales From Topographic Oceans”.
For a start the presentation of the Yes show is excellent, even when you take into account the whole mirror-ball/dry ice routine which was, not surprisingly, greeted with rapturous applause by the devotees.
Jon Anderson says that the show is the final form of the act that the group inaugurated for the first screening of “Topographic Oceans” – you know, where Alan White`s drums are set up underneath what people tell me is a lung fish.
The fish opens up during White`s solo allowing various lights to flash on and off inside it. That`s still there, but Yes have got rid of the prop through which they entered the main stage area; the one which was intended to represent their entering the topographic ocean, cosmic-travellers.
A new addition to the show is what looks like a crab and, judging from its size, it could have been lifted from the set of “Gulliver`s Travels” if there were any crabs in that. The collosal thing`s stage left of the lung fish and it too performs great wonders when White opens up on the drum-front, flashing lights and waggling pincers and all.
Each of the front three stage mikes are surrounded by an island of clear plastic through which light glows at various appropriate moments. Also to keep the punter happy, there`s a couple of moments when pure white spots of light appear as if from nowhere and are projected all over the stage area.
In other words Yes like a bit of trickery with the old electricity, if you see what I mean.
They also take pride in their appearance which either means they care about their audience or are latent narcissists.
Both are probably true.
In actual fact Yes`s stage clothes could raise the odd smile with those of us who possess a certain sense of humour (Steve why didn`t you tell us before? – Ed), especially Chris Squire`s stage garb which consisted of a black outfit decorated with pom-poms, no less, mid-thigh and ankle length.
But to the music, because I reckon I`d have got off on it even if they`d performed it in a barn wearing denims.
The bad bits first, because for the first part of the show Yes left me with that old well-they`re-playing-very-fast-but-they-ain`t-getting-anywhere feeling.
Their opening number was “Sound Chaser”, side two, track one of “Relayer” and it sounded as pointless live as it does on the album. For sure it`s fast, but so what? Howe`s ex-extended solo seemed totally redundant in its apparent haphazard construction.
“The Gates Of Delirium”, again from “Relayer”, made me feel the same way apart from certain passages where melody peeped through what once again seemed like speed and complication for their own sakes – I know that`s been said before, but that`s the way it was for me.
Onto the good bits.
The remaining piece from “Relayer”, “To Be Over”, started off fine and actually seemed to have some coherent construction as a song where everything is perfectly dovetailed, but went off at various tangents allowing the group once more to demonstrate their incomprehensible speed as musicians.
“Close To The Edge” was performed with slick professionalism and demonstrated how Patrick Moraz`s approach to keyboard playing within Yes is different to Wakeman`s.
Moraz`s playing is sparser and infinitely more tasteful, but sometimes betrays a heavy handedness which Wakeman`s didn`t. He also seems to have difficulty producing the right tone in that his playing on “And You And I” didn`t sound as apt as the equivalent line that Wakeman used to play.
That song also displayed a few band co-ordination difficulties.
And now the really fine moments; an acoustic medley of “Your Move”, “Mood For A Day”, “Long Distance Runaround” and “The Clap” where Howe, Squire and Anderson play acoustic guitars, Howe using a lute for part of the time, Moraz adding just a soupcon of piano; The rendition of “Ritual”, (the closing side of “Topographic Oceans”) where the band`s playing was immaculate while retaining a certain warmth; and the encores of “Roundabout” and “Sweet Dreams” from the group`s pre-“Yes Album” days.
Now, odd as this may sound, “Sweet Dreams” illustrated Yes playing with an understanding of funky rock`n`roll not normally associated with the group. Howe, Squire and particularly White were exemplary, the drummer laying it down like he used to as an up-tempo rocker.
More than anything else “Sweet Dreams” indicated just how fine Yes are as players and as a band working together.
Record-wise they seemed to reach a high on “Close To The Edge”, since when they have gone further into themselves, concentrating on sheer flash and ignoring their ability to write well-wrought songs.
Glasgow proved that they can still do it on stage.
Maybe the next album`ll prove they can still do it on record.
Non-Yes followers are advised to see the show. They might be surprised. I was.
I have personally transcribed this from the original paper and you are free to use it as you like. If you use it on your own webpages – please credit me or put up a link to my blog.
This number of New Musical Express also contains articles/interviews with these people: Steely Dan, Al Green, Pete Atkin and Clive James, Joe Walsh, Sweet, David Allan Coe, Carla Bley, Syl Johnson, The Pink Fairies, Frank Zappa.
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