Thursday, 18 July 2013

YES means yes: A concert for the affirmed

YES 2013 World TourPioneers, so goes the axiom, get arrows in their backs. If that's the case, then the members of the progressive rock band, YES, have pulled out the pointy shafts and, forty years later, show no signs of being wounded. At Wednesday's performance at the City National Grove of Anaheim, Steve Howe (guitars), Chris Squire (bass), Geoff Downes (keyboards), Alan White (drums), and Jon Davison (vocals) proved they are still pioneers of a sound that since its fresh inception, resonates crisply, cascades lyrically, and never ceases to astound.

Those naysayers who are purists for YES with the group's original spiritual core, Jon Anderson, may want to give Jon Davison a go, as his range is every bit as celestial as Anderson's. Arguably, the only elements missing are Anderson's clarity and interpretive nature, which is indelibly his own signature style. Davison hasn't quite found what makes him Davison, as he floats between looking the part and sounding the part, but not being the part. He clearly has the awareness of being a stand-in for Jon Anderson, who parted ways with the group moons ago. That conscious factor may be the only aspect of Davison’s persona that keeps him from taking virtual vocal ownership of the songs.

Still, the similarities beyond personalities between Jon Anderson and Jon Davison (and their first names), are their unique abilities to start in keys that are already adrift in the clouds, then take the songs spiraling higher into the heavens -- perhaps to meet their Maker. Jon Anderson has the edge in that realm, but Davison is definitely part of the choir of angels who can sing loftily and do so with aplomb. That his mannerisms are delicate and innocently put forth make Davison a true charmer on stage. But his presence misses that energetic center that Jon Anderson exuded without effort. Those who followed YES through the Benoit David vocal years (2008-2011) will better appreciate that the other alumni have finally found a far more likable, pleasant and palpable replacement for Jon Anderson.

As always, what makes YES so affirmatively wonderful are their spastic syncopations coupled with lyrically warped phrasings, all of which cyclonically coil upward into a sonorous funnel of festive flourishes. Most impressive among the whirlpool of songs was the performance by the inimitable Steve Howe, who is adroit and facile at fingering manic mash-ups of aural sensations that find the bridges between the gulfs of Nashville, Vienna and New Orleans. The influence of Fifties Nashville three-tiered picking flawlessly and melodiously melt into a cacophonous crossover jazz jam, with classical structure cosmically rooted into his twisting textures. Indeed, all the YES musicians are in this space -- but Howe appears to be the space. He is the sun of YES din, orbed by his fellow musicians who collectively make all the hubbub so affirming and gratifying. Squire, White, and Downes weave their independent inventiveness together, creating a flaunting and fluttering fusion of dithyrambic rhapsodies.

Read on...

Union (Standard DVD)
DVD - £9.99

Union (2CD)
2CD - £7.99

Rock Of The 70's
DVD - £12.99

The Lost Broadcasts
DVD - £7.99

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