Photos by Paul Hitz
Rochester Hills, MI - July 22nd 2014 - The great aspect of being at a Yes concert is knowing that if someone didn’t want to be there, they wouldn’t be. The band will never be mistaken for a flavor of the month, or the hot new group rising up the charts in the summer months. To be quite succinct, it is not a see, or be seen, type of show.
Formed in 1968, the group has evolved, disbanded, re-formed and has a current line- up that includes former members as well as new the addition of Jon Davison as the new lead singer (if you want to consider 2012 as new) whom in the true tradition of rock stardom was plucked in “Rockstar” fashion from the tribute group Roundabout. Alan White on Percussion is also known from his younger days with the Plastic Ono Band prior to joining the group. After a brief break from Yes in the early 80’s, he has been with the band consistently since 1972. Geoff Downes on Keyboards rejoined his mates in 2011 after a cup of coffee stint in 1981. Downes has had a steady career and Is looked upon with respect for the cultural significance of his work with the group Asia, and the shot heard round the MTV generation world “Video Killed the Radio Star”. Original members Steve Howe on Lead Guitar and Chris Squire on Bass are still the heart and soul of the prog rock icons.
Yes is an acquired taste and was at the front of the prog rock genre in the late 60’s and early 70’s. This tour was put together as a gift for the die- hard fans that have followed them from their inception. Starting the trip, Yes learned a lesson from the previous show in Detroit and reversed the order of performance to start with “Siberian Kahtru” instead of “Close to the Edge” for the performance of the album in its entirety. If you were new to the group, this made for a hefty start to the show as you were looking at 40 minutes for 3 songs. This is not to mistake the group as an early precursor to the DMB or Widespread Panic Jams, as what the group does is take you on a journey. You can follow the music and be surprised at the different levels of intricacy that can be developed.
As with any artist, the band played a cut from the new album “Heaven and Earth” which was received warmly from the relatively full Meadowbrook Music Theatre. All new music has the herculean task of immediately being compared to the bands past classics and with the FM airwaves no longer playing the current hits from the classic artists, this was no different.
“Fragile” was performed in order and very close to the original cut, including the sound from back in the day which was distorted a bit by the placement of the speakers as well as the overall weak sound system at the amphitheater. Despite the weak sound, the hash bash crowd was feeling every bit of what the band was giving them. Davison was more than passable as the lead singer; in fact he had the soul of what Jon Anderson originally brought to the band and let the audience know that he felt what they felt in both the performance of the music as well as the enjoyment of the experience.
The true love was directed at the 67 year old Howe on his Gibson, still plugging away on all of the strings that define the eclectic mix of the sweeping solos of the group. Squire, as an original founding member is still having fun, after 6 decades of playing the same Bass lines. Like many others, he did not seem to be put off that this was now a job as opposed to a passion.
Encores were what you would expect, with the radio hits of “I’ve Seen All Good People” and “Starship Trooper” putting a cap on a night for a crowd that enjoyed a show of perfect length on a summer night. This is the type of show that outdoor venues are for. What make a band are memories and Yes rekindled many of those for an appreciative fan base.
And You and I
Close to the Edge
Cans and Brahms
We Have Heaven
South Side of the Sky
Five Per Cent for Nothing
Long Distance Runaround
The Fish (Schindleria Praematurus)
Mood for a Day
Heart of the Sunrise
I've Seen All Good People