The last time I saw Yes perform live was a year ago. It also marked the first time I saw this legendary prog-rock group. I then declared myself "won over" by a band I had never paid much attention to despite many years of love for peers like King Crimson, Genesis, and Pink Floyd. Their recreations of both The Yes Album (1971) and Close to the Edge (1972) seemed beyond note-perfect. The show included incredible moments of musical gelling that felt positively transcendent. I even had no trouble forgiving the absence of original frontman Jon Anderson (much to the offense of some commentators).
But then, something happened later that year. I interviewed Anderson and attended his solo show. His personality -- that which gave so much to the band's metaphysical and cosmic lyrics -- was extremely charming. He also expressed his hope to reunite with the band someday. Then there was his one-man show featuring tales of the construction of some classic Yes tunes, a light show, and mostly him on acoustic guitar and that voice.
So I carried that bias with me when I saw Yes on Friday, and some kind of magic disappeared. It didn't help that the band's first song was the intricate "Siberian Khatru," which came across decidedly disjointed. It was a shame, as it was a highlight of last year's performance. But, of course, Jon Davison's voice also was not the same because I have since had the Anderson vocal experience.
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