By Thor Christensen, 22 March 2013, Dallas News Music Guide Live
GRAND PRAIRIE — Jon Anderson might be the voice of Yes, but its soul belongs to guitarist Steve Howe.
That became clear Thursday night at Verizon Theatre as the British progressive rockers aced the tricky task of sounding like Yes without Anderson, who last sang with the band in 2004.
Former Yes tribute band singer Jon Davison, an American who joined Yes last year, doesn’t look much like Jon Anderson. But his angelic high tenor was a jaw-dropping replica. Since Anderson was never much of a showman, Davison only needed to stand there, nail the phrasing, and let his band mates handle the 12,000 chord changes — which they did with laserlike precision after a rusty opening of “Yours Is No Disgrace.”
Yes has had more lineup changes than the Dallas Mavericks, but the current roster jelled just fine.
Chris Squire’s bass work, while not as distinct as in previous decades, was full of sass and virtuosity. Longtime drummer Alan White and ’80s recruit Geoff Downes (keyboards) were solid as usual, and Howe led the way with a genre-jumping guitar style that remains Yes’ signature sound.
Where other prog-rockers try to be classical musicians, Howe delivered an unpretentious blend of jazz, blues, flamenco and folk. The results were often stunning — especially his Coltrane-ish solo in “Starship Trooper” and “The Clap,” which came off like a duet between Django Reinhardt and Leo Kottke. Howe spent most of the show jumping between electric and acoustic guitars, but a high point arrived when he tore up a lap steel guitar in the title track of “Going for the One.”
Yes played three albums in their entirety: Going for the One (1977), Close to the Edge (1972) and The Yes Album (1971), plus an encore of “Roundabout.” Some of the longer songs were hard to swallow, and the hippie-dippy lyrics haven’t aged well: How many mash notes to the sun can one band sing?
But most of Yes’ tunes were as strange and potent as ever, from the wonderfully twee “And You and I” to the baroque boogie of “I’ve Seen All Good People.”
In the ’70s, punk rockers ridiculed Yes for its lofty style, and even today the band still gets no respect from the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. But that’s OK. A century from now, when nobody’s listening to the Sex Pistols, people will still be rocking out to “Roundabout.”