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Thursday, 21 August 2014

Yes struck familiar chord at KC concert

Yes

The current incarnation of the 1970s progressive rock group Yes brought their performance of two classic albums to the Midland Theatre in Kansas City earlier this month. The “whole album” show has been Yes’ tour format the past two years, with “Fragile” (1971) and “Close to the Edge” (1972) being the selections this tour.

New vocalist (since 2012) Jon Davison did an impressive job of evoking the ethereal feel of Yes’ original vocalist, Jon Anderson, who left the band in 2008. Davison came into the band already knowing the material, having sung in a Yes tribute band as well as being the vocalist for “Glass Hammer.”

The sole remaining co-founder, bassist Chris Squire, succeeded in doing what he does best – thundering his Rickenbacker bass across the stage and furnishing contrastingly delicate backing vocals to such complex progressive rock jewels as the title song to “Close to the Edge.” He also showed off his ’70s custom Jim Mouradian green bass.

Guitarist Steve Howe, who joined in 1970, has lost none of the precision that prog rock demands, playing the familiar Gibson ES-175 and elevating the art of the lap steel guitar with “And You and I.”

Geoff Downes, on keyboards, mastered parts originally written by Rick Wakeman. It is unfortunate that since his addition to the band in 2011, there’s been no keyboard solo, as his own compositions are impressive. Remember when MTV actually played music videos? Downes was the first person pictured when the fledgling network began its first broadcast with The Buggles’ “Video Killed the Radio Star.”

I couldn’t see drummer Alan White from my position but could certainly hear the fast time changes characteristic of prog rock.

The set list also included samples of Yes’ newest album, “Heaven and Earth.” Gone are the trippy, stream-of-consciousness lyrics of “Fragile” and “Close to the Edge,” with songs like “Siberian Khatru” penned in the era of psychedelia. New songs such as the very replayable “Believe Again” and “To Ascend” evoke the optimism of the band’s 2001 album, the more concrete “Magnification.” Cover art by Roger Dean furnishes a welcome link to Yes’ classic era.


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