What does it sound like?:
It sounds like “Yes” played by a great guitarist and a fairly good band. Many of the classics are presetn and correct (“Close to the Edge”, “Awaken”, “”Sweet Dreams”, “Yours is no Disgrace”, perennial encores “Roundabout” and “Starship Trooper”, and a deep Topographic cut, “The Ancient” (abridged)), along with the more selectively appealing “9 Voices” (wet, instantly forgettable), and a bit of “Fly from Here” (tries hard, but lacks aptitude – and, indeed, altitude). The slower tempos of some tracks reflect the need for Alan White to keep up, he being unfortunately afflicted by health problems (Yes now have a new drummer and AW guests).
My concern is that they play the track much as they have done for the past 47 years. It sounds like we’ve heard it before, and we have. All of these tracks have been heard before, and most have been heard on live albums in the past in similar versions, and if there isn’t much difference from the original recordings or the other live versions, what is the point? There certainly isn’t much improvisation or new interpretation of the songs. This turns the album into a souvenir of the concerts with the new line up (Jon Davison on vocals, very ‘Jon’ and better than Benoit David; Billy Sherwood, top bass playing though no Chris Squire; and Geoff Downes, whose keyboards are acceptable, but frankly lack verve).
What does it all *mean*?
Yes are now Steve Howe plus heavy friends. Steve Howe remains a brilliant guitarist, but needs foils of equal talent to bring out his best, and the current capabilities of Yes are more variable than that. The band represent an attitude of psychedelic optimism and possibility, and the music when on point is phenomenal – but the good stuff is generally over 40 years old. New good material (e.g., “Mind Drive”, “Can You Imagine?”) is passed over, and the less said about recent Yes studio albums, the better. The latest tour has them doing a cover – “imagine”, which is, to my ears and eyes weedy and downright execrable, and indicates more bad judgement. We all hope for a return to form, but I am now resigned to them being the best current “Yes” covers band out there. ARW also played their old catalogue well and provided a brief burst of nostalgia, but didn’t go anywhere. Yes’s best material was produced in a 8-year period. One thing about newer progressive bands: they can keep producing enjoyable new music over a longer period.
Goes well with…
Hippie nostalgia, comfortable auditorium seats, a prostate behaving itself, no idiots using the concert as an excuse to drink too much so you spend the show having to keep standing up and sitting down as they go for a pee, clear roads on the way home. Remembering previous Yes concerts where the synergy of sound, light, and positive vibes meant you thought you were on a higher plane of conscious, and sometimes actually were.
August 2nd, 2019.
Might suit people who like…
Classic era progressive rock and avoid anything in the progressive style from after about 1980.