Monday, 12 May 2014

Live in 2014: YES - The 3 Albums Tour - The Hippodrome, Bristol, Sunday 11th May

Over here in the UK it seems as if we've been waiting forever for this tour. YES have been playing the 3 albums tour for 2 years over in the USA and Canada and have finally brought it here.

With new vocalist Jon Davison now firmly on board, it was a chance to see what the YES 2014 sound like live.

The 3 Album Tour consists of the YES albums Close To The Edge, Going For The One and The Yes Album being played in their entirety in the original track order. There has been a change from the US dates where The Yes Album has been moved to the final album played due it's more upbeat nature.

I've seen YES many times over the years and I've never been disappointed. 

So, the big question among the fans I talked to before the show was, is Jon Davison up to the task as vocalist of YES? 
I'm delighted to report that the answer is a resounding YES!

YES will ALWAYS be associated with Jon Anderson as vocalist but he has been one of five YES vocalists over the years. Since Jon Anderson there have been Trevor Horn, Trevor Rabin, Benoit David and now Jon Davison. 
Indeed, if you look at the albums by these new vocalists, they have always been excellent - DRAMA - 90125 - Fly From Here. So the track record has been positive when a new vocalist comes to town - more of that later.

Taking the stage to the now obligatory Firebird Suite by Stravinsky, the band launch into the title track of Close To The Edge and all reservations are banished. Jon Davison more than holds his own. He is a revelation. It is always a huge task trying to fill those Accrington shoes but he is more than up to the task and brings a fresh energy into the band. The standing ovation at the end of CTTE was well deserved and the band and audience relaxed and continued to perform the Prog Rock classic in style and with some aplomb.

YES 2014 consists of Jon Davison on vocals, Chris Squire on Bass, Steve Howe on Guitars, Alan White on Drums and Geoff Downes on Keyboards.

The band go on through the rest of Close To The Edge and show just what excellent musicians they are, playing these complex rhythms and time signatures. Steve Howe in particular is on fire tonight and improvises on well established solos throughout the evening.

Chris Squire has become the Keeper Of The Flame for YES and is now obviously Band Leader and as always, relishes his time in the spotlight. And his bass playing and vocals are impeccable. And both Alan White and Geoff Downes provide outstanding musical ability to showcase these excellent songs.

It's a testament to the writing that these albums can sound so fresh and vibrant up to 40 years since they were recorded.

Next up was my favourite YES album, Going For The One.

It is here that Jon Davison really shows what he can do as a vocalist. From the rocky title track and the stomping Parallels to the delicate Turn of The Century, Jon shows his vocal range and engaging stage persona. It's great to see a bit of energy come into the band. Youngsters, eh?

Talking of youngsters, it was also great to see some young faces among the middle aged faithful tonight. As Jon Anderson said, YES music is bigger than the band. This is true.

The moment I had been waiting for came just after the hit single Wonderous Stories.

It was the mighty Awaken. My favourite YES song. And it was totally amazing. Jon Davison's vocals were just superb and he also played keyboards and guitar. He's an excellent find and fit for the band.

Awaken got the biggest ovation of the night and rightly so.

After a 20 minute intermission, YES come back to the stage for the final album of the evening The YES Album. It proved a wise decision to move this album to the later slot as the songs are rockier and more direct than the earlier two albums. 

From the opening Yours Is No Disgrace, the band were now rocking with a vengence.

The Clap with a solo Steve Howe was always going to bring the house down. And so it did.

It was also great to hear A Venture live again after so many years in the wilderness.

The final song was Perpetual Change with Jon Davison again proving how well he has fitted into the band.

Steve Howe and Chris Squire gave it one last blast to finish the show on a high.

But there is always an encore. And it was the crowd pleasing Roundabout from the Fragile album that finally had ALL of the crowd on their feet with a bit of encouragement form Jon.

So an amazing 3 hours of YES music and a fully satisfied audience. Even the band looked especially pleased at the response.

Oh, and by the way, the show was filmed :) - so look out for the DVD coming soon.

YES begin a new tour in the US in the summer. They will be playing the Close To The Edge & Fragile albums along with the new album they have recorded with Jon Davison on vocals for the first time, called Heaven & Earth.

The band have said that the recording went really well with producer Roy Thomas Baker and that Jon has contributed in the writing of the music and lyrics. If tonight was anything to go by, we can expect another special album by a new vocalist.

Views among the fans of the band seem to be in agreement that the 3 albums format is an excellent choice and with such a wealth of material to chose from another 3 albums tour would be another sell-out.

It seems the fans want Fragile, Relayer and Drama - I wouldn't disagree one iota.

Twitter - @yesofficial

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