A concert review by Steve Fleck.
The seemingly ageless Yes turned in an exceptional performance at Jones Beach amphitheater on Long Island in August. Including the classic Going for the One lineup of Anderson, Squire, Howe, White & newly rejoined Wakeman (for the what-teenth time?), the band offered a fresh mix of classic era Yes. What made it great were the surprises thrown in for the hardcore Yes fan, and 2 new tunes from their latest release, Magnification.
Instrumentally, I've never seen them play better, tho I'm a mere rookie, having seen them for the first time as ABWH in 1989. Squire & White are just locked into a non-stop, relentless 30-year groove, and this sets the table for a delicious course. It allows Howe & Wakeman to play pepper with the colorful riffs and runs that make Yes the peerless outfit it has been for 35 years. Anderson has lost seemingly none of his vocal quality over the years, which is just astounding.
Opening with the mathematically perfect arrangement "Siberian Khatru," Yes soared into 2 new tunes from Magnification—the title track, an exercise in momentum, and the "To Be Over"-esque "Time is Time." "America," the Paul Simon cover with full bombastic 1972 Yes treatment, offers one of Howe's most innovative & extensive solos. "Heart of the Sunrise" & "The Fish" represented the standards at the show, with the "newer" additions of "The Revealing Science of God" (Open Your Eyes tour), and the masterful "Awaken" (Union tour) making welcome encores.
The surprises were "Don't Kill the Whale," and the exquisite "We Have Heaven" leading into "South Side of the Sky," the seldom performed prog rocker from Fragile. The preceding were worth the ticket price for me, having never seen them performed live. "Roundabout" is the standard close, with "Your Move Seen All Good People" following to send the crowd out singing.
Howe was masterful throughout, playing his Gibson ES 175D, Fender Telecaster, Fender Pedal Steel, Steinberger 12-string & Martin acoustic with ripping precision. He ran these through 2 Fender twins (for those like me that care), and the sonic quality was supreme vintage. His solo incorporated a classical number & an excerpt from "The Ancient," for a beautiful peak at his brilliant finger picking style.
Wakeman's solo was somewhat of a disappointment, tho his dexterity is certainly there, it didn't produce the frantic energy these spots generally stir up. It was certainly good to see him back, however, and a standard Wakeman solo transcends most.
Squire's "The Fish" hasn't changed much over the years, but it was good fun, as he & White again locked into a thunderous rock groove, teasing us with the riff from "Tempus Fugit." I hold hope that one of these days, they'll actually play the song…
Anderson, while offering no solo preaching, was once again the Ghandi that holds it all together. He sounds exquisite at about age 55.
All in all, an excellent evening of intricate, complex arrangements that seem to flow like they were 3 minute pop. I'm enthused by the fact that Yes is consistently changing up the set to allow even the most obscure album tracks to see the light of live performance.