Yes always was a bit more ambitious than most bands. While many of their classic-rock peers have taken to playing one or even two entire albums from their heyday in recent years, the British prog-rock pioneers are playing three complete albums on this tour. They opened with 1972’s Close to the Edge, perhaps the definitive progressive rock album, followed by 1977’s Going for the One and their 1970 breakthrough The Yes Album.
Singer Jon Davison, on his second tour with the band, showed himself once again a suitable replacement for longtime frontman Jon Anderson, delivering each of his predecessor’s lines with the same angelic tone on “Turn of the Century” and “Wonderous Stories.” The heart of Yes, though, remains guitarist Steve Howe and bassist Chris Squire, both of whom originally performed on all three albums covered. Howe played a variety of styles on electric and acoustic guitars, as well as pedal steel and a lute, displaying a delicate touch on complex songs such as “And You and I” while peppering “Close to the Edge” and “Going for the One” with rapid bursts of intricate jazzy riffs. Squire, meanwhile, laid down a thunderous foundation on “Yours Is No Disgrace” and the 15-minute epic “Awaken,” during which he played a triple-neck bass.
For a band that has long been labeled by its detractors as excessive and pretentious, playing three entire albums in one show could be viewed as more of the same. But for Yes and its aging fan base, it was a welcome opportunity to revisit a period of almost unparalleled musical exploration. ★★★★✩