Yes at Hard Rock Live, Hollywood, with Commentary by Ed Matus

Categories: Concert Review
From left - Geoff Downes Jon Davison Chris Squire.JPG
Ana Morgenstern
Better than: A Yes greatest hits show. 

Consider me won over. 

I had a feeling seeing Yes live would crystalize the band for me. For all these years, I have been a fan of certain bands of progressive rock (though not necessarily of the genre as a whole), I had never given Yes a full album's chance. Here they were stopping in South Florida while on tour playing three select albums from their catalog: The Yes Album (1971), Close to the Edge (1972), and Going For the One (1977). Though, for some unexplained reason, Going For the One was dropped from last night's show at the Hard Rock Live. In fairness, Hard Rock never advertised that as one of the albums that would be played that night, though drummer Alan White told me during my interview with him that it would appear.

My co-pilot on this interstellar aural journey, as in my last classic prog rock live review, for the night was Ed Matus, a local musician who despite being known as an electronica artist has never hidden his affection for bands of the progressive rock genre.

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Ed's knowledge of Yes proved handy as soon as the lights dimmed at 7:05 p.m., as he pointed out that the band's walk-on music was Stravinsky's "Firebird Suite," a longtime signature of this classically-influenced band's live shtick for many years. Over the drum kit, a giant screen played a montage of the album covers the band were to play that night (including Going For the One, for the record), and then various images of the members that have played in Yes over the years. 
Steve Howe.JPG
Ana Morgenstern
After a bombastic coda, guitarist Steve Howe, bassist Chris Squire, drummer Alan White, keyboardist Geoff Downes, and vocalist Jon Davison, casually strolled out from under the screen. After some waves, smiles and bows to the cheering crowd at the end of the montage, they settled behind their instruments, as an audio track of a babbling brook and birds chirped. 

The angular attack of the title track of Close to the Edge broke up the peaceful sounds and sometimes threatened to fall apart as keyboards and guitar and bass drove along quickly with little regard for each other. The ironic thing about this opening, which made both Ed and I cringe, is that anyone familiar with the song's theme, understands that this song is supposed to sound like that, teetering on an edge of chaos. However, in this live setting it fell off over that edge. It would happen on several occasions during the performance of this album. "I don't want to be a dick," Ed commented, "but the new guy is the only one who impressed me. The others guys are playing like they're drunk."

Indeed, probably the most impressive member of Yes that night -- not to mention the one with the most to prove -- was Jon Anderson's current replacement. Davison, the youngest member of the group took to his role with more ease than anyone else on stage and made for one charismatic figure. With his shoulder-length hair, his long flowered shirt and white flares, he was like a skinny elf from the netherworld of peace and bliss. He sung with arms outstretched to the heavens often (in imitation of Anderson, noted Ed).

But then there was his voice, which sounded clean and angelic in a way probably the much older Anderson could no longer achieve. When Davison sang the first lines of "The Solid Time of Change:" "A seasoned witch could call you from the depths of your disgrace," Ed turned to me wide-eyed mouthing "wow."

Ed had come to this show with the attitude it would not be Yes without Anderson, but left feeling glad to see this sprite of a man take over the role. "He's remarkable," he said. "I don't miss Jon Anderson."
From left - Jon Davison and Geoff Downes.JPG
Ana Morgenstern
In fact, Davison was downright stirring in his role. Singing lyrics of astral plains and union between all men and women, uttering words of "you and I" with arms outstretched to the audience with music that melded classical, jazz, and rock in seamless unobtrusive manners. Yes finally began to make sense. It did not take the silhouette of a figure in lotus pose flying through space rotating overhead on a big screen to represent the band, it was all there in the music. When the members of Yes melded, it was a sound to behold.


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4 comments
vaughanjames97
vaughanjames97

you say"davison sounding clear and angelic in a way the older anderson probably could no longer achieve".on what do you base that opinion.when did you last see anderson.andersons voice is still a marvel and has been live and recorded since his recovery over3 years ago.i look forward to your reply explaining when you last  saw anderson and your reason for defamatory remarks about his current ability(jon anderson starts his australian tour on the 28th of march)


Hans3
Hans3
vaughanjames97
vaughanjames97

@Hans3 @vaughanjames97  then hans you have not seen anderson recently or you would not say that,i would think it better to review what you are seeing and hearing,not making assumptions about others abilities that you have not witnessed

davidjayfuchs
davidjayfuchs

Jon Anderson stills has his voice and Jon Anderson is and will always be the voice of YES..His Masters voice. I have a feeling that the next tour in the future ...Jon Anderson will be back. Perhaps they will do a smaller amount of dates..and one can only hope that Rick Wakeman's health is doing better and he can return. Even with out Jon Anderson & Rick Wakeman -  Squire and Howe still amaze me.  It's all good so lets enjoy it while we have it!!


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