Review by Bokonon
Photographs by Stanley Johnson
So, at the Yes show at The Egg on Sunday, I was discussing with an old friend the fact that I have been progging out of late. I have no embarrassment or fear of this, and it’s been pretty deep. Lots of Can, not like that’s a surprise, the Krautrock tip is always cool. But perhaps a touch of Magma, made-up language and all. Certainly some Henry Cow, a fair dose of Soft Machine and David Thomas’ solo work, which, really, is never too far from the heart. And Beefheart. Is Beefheart prog?
But back to Yes. Yes is the acceptable face of prog, side by side with Genesis, which try as I might, I could just never sink my teeth into, despite protestations from ardent worshippers. Jon Anderson sang a tune with King Crimson, sure, but Yes could never marshall that kind of power. When Bruford jumped ship he knew that something like Red would crush Anderson’s head.
But at The Egg, Yes was just a beautiful thing, reminding us at every turn of the true glories they were capable of in their youthful prime.
Close to the Edge was rendered in reverse, so that the epic title track wouldn’t club everybody over the head before they could get their bearings. And besides, why wouldn’t you open with “Siberian Khatru?” Fragile followed — after a few new tunes — in its own fractured fashion.
Fragile was a funny record, as if Kiss made their solo records in the middle of Destroyer. Solo pieces jangle amidst the band tracks, angles against the smoother surfaces. Odd, too, that Grandma Downes and Dr. White offered interpretations of Wakeman and the aforementioned Mr. Bill. His “Five Percent for Nothing” was a glorious 40-second blast of British free-jazz weirdness, and White put on his game face for it.
Singer Jon Davison is only as old as Fragile, which was released in 1971, but he copped Anderson’s gig beautifully, a far more pleasing choice than Benoit David, who was at the Times Union Center with the band in 2008.
But Yes was Yes because of Steve Howe and Chris Squire, and they still are. Yes!
Howe is a living superlative. He won every Guitar Player magazine poll ever conducted — ever! — because he’s that good. He shone at The Egg. His guitar has all the notes in it. Especially when he plays three on one song. Damn. Steve Howe. Damn!
Squire, legend has it, uses a sixpence for a pick. It’s not true, but it sounds good. And so does his Rickenbacker. Lord, he rocks that thing like a piano. The standing ovation following his “Fragile” solo spot, “The Fish,” might even have been earned — by history if not by the Sunday roar of the Rick.
Howe, clearly the man in control of the crew, knew that Yes couldn’t go out on “Heart of the Sunrise,” so the quintet closed the show with “All Good People.” An encore of “Owner of a Lonely Heart” was a formality. The trump of “Starship Trooper” was lovely.
Syd Arthur opened the evening with a brace of psychfolk sprung from the roots of Daevid Allen and Gong, bless their trippy little hearts. With flashes of mad mandolin and fiddle, the Canterbury kids won over the old folks with their wiggy young ways. Good stuff. Nice hat, too.
Greg Haymes’ review at The Times Union
A Few Minutes With… Alan White of Yes
YES SET LIST
Close to the Edge (in reverse order)
And You and I
Close to the Edge
Cans and Brahms
We Have Heaven
South Side of the Sky
Five Per Cent for Nothing
Long Distance Runaround
The Fish (Schindleria Praematurus)
Mood for a Day
Heart of the Sunrise
I’ve Seen All Good People
Owner of a Lonely Heart