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Thursday, 26 November 2015

Chris Squire’s Spirit Dominates Yes’ Cruise to the Edge 2015: Exclusive Review


Michael Buckner, Getty Images
The most crucial attendee of the third-annual Cruise to the Edge wasn’t even physically on the ship. The presence of late Yes bassist and co-founder Chris Squire, who died in June from a rare form of leukemia, radiated throughout the four-night jaunt – in tributes both major (Mike Portnoy‘s all-star musical dedication) and minor (door-decorating posters, “THANK YOU CHRIS” bracelets).

Yes’ headlining shows opened with an emotional moment of calm: a Rickenbacker bass guitar, Squire’s trademark instrument, resting center-stage, illuminated by a spotlight. The starlit strains of “Onward,” the bassist’s ballad from 1978’s Tormato, filled the theater, soundtracking a montage of still images from throughout his four-decade Yes run.

The quintet – now with former member Billy Sherwood attempting to fill Squire’s massive boots – didn’t include any obvious nods to the bass giant during its two-hour shows, but the group did dust off some unexpected rarities, freshening up a set list that’s grown stale with recent full-LP tributes. The serene folk of “Nine Voices” (a nod to 1999’s The Ladder, one of two LPs featuring Sherwood on various instruments) and synth atmosphere of “White Car” balanced out the requisite bombast of standard prog pieces like “Siberian Khatru.”

Portnoy’s heartfelt tribute to the Fish was hampered by Yes’ odd request that he not rely on the band’s classic ’70s material (the bread and butter of their current set list), but those restrictions forced the Dream Theater co-founder to probe the random corners of Squire’s discography, and his hour-long pool-side set nourished a crowd ever-hungry for obscure gems. Backed by the Neal Morse Band and a crew of rotating guest singers and bassists (including Marillion’s Steve Hogarth and Pete Trewavas, respectively), Portnoy divided the performance into three chapters: the ’60s (early Yes covers including the Beatles‘ “Every Little Thing”), ’70s (the entire first side of Squire’s underrated 1975 solo album, Fish Out of Water) and the neon-tinted ’80s (highlighted by 90125 instrumental “Cinema”).

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