by Dale Jr., 9 April 2013, New England Music News
Progressive rock took center stage Saturday night when one of the corner stones of the genre, Yes, returned to the Hampton Beach Casino Ballroom for the venue’s opening weekend. For someone that has seen the band three times previously, there was still something new for me to enjoy. The band was playing three albums in their entirety, of which was plenty of material that I had never heard live before. Also, the band was sporting a new lineup, and most notably, a new lead singer John Davison. Davison had previously fronted a progressive rock band called Glass Hammer. The tricky part about a long time band finding a new lead singer is whether or not the new singer sounds like the long time front man, in this case, Jon Anderson. The band’s previous singer, Benoit David, sounded so much like Anderson, that if you closed your eyes, you probably wouldn’t be able to tell Anderson and David apart. I don’t know where the band finds these new singers, or if they have a lab where they breed these guys, but Davison sounded eerily similar to Anderson as well, despite being under the weather.
The band took the stage at 8pm to the sold out crowd and opened with close to 19 minute title track from Close to the Edge. Close to the Edge is the band’s fifth album, and the title track took up the whole first side of the original album. It was quite the song to open with, and I wasn’t quite sure what order they would play the three albums in. After the band opened with Close to the Edge, they then moved on to the next track from the album, And You and I; another great progressive rock song, which clocks in at ten minutes. They then closed out the album with my personal favorite track from the Close to the Edge album, Siberian Khatru. Close to the Edge is a great album and the band did an amazing job pulling it off live.
After a short ten minute intermission, the band came back and played Going For The One; an album that casual Yes fans might not be all too familiar with. I know that I wasn’t previous to the show. The album features shorter tracks than some previous works, maybe with the intent on getting more radio friendly. The album starts again with the title track, which starts with almost a hillbilly guitar riff from Steve Howe, which would sound out of place on some of the band’s earlier albums. The band followed with Turn of the Century, and then with probably my favorite track of the album, Parallels. The song features the sound of a more traditional organ and a heavy bass groove. The song was originally written for a Chris Squire solo project and was written by the band’s long time bassist. Perhaps that’s why it features such a rocking and predominate bass groove. The band the closed out the album with Wonderous Stories and then the 15 minute Awaken, which had bassist Chris Squire pull out a triple necked bass guitar.
After another short intermission, the best was saved for last with The Yes Album. The Yes Album is filled with hits and deep cuts. It might even be my favorite Yes album, which says a lot, because Fragile is usually considered their best album. All it took was the opening notes of Yours Is No Disgrace to get the crowd on their feet. Next, Steve Howe took the spotlight, much like he did all night, but this time, he had the stage for himself as he busted out an acoustic guitar and played Clap. Clap was actually originally on The Yes Album has a live recording, and the studio version was later thrown on as bonus track of the re-mastered version of the album. Howe plucked that guitar and made it sing some sweet sounds and the crowd got into it by doing what the title of the song suggested; clapping. The rest of the band then came back out and did a rocking rendition on Starship Trooper, followed by I’ve Seen All Good People. Both songs have been Yes staples at shows for years, as both are some of the band’s bigger hits. It was then followed up by A Venture, a great deep track off the album; of which I had never had the pleasure of hearing the track live before. That’s one of the cool parts about hearing whole albums performed live is you get to hear some of the tracks that the artists don’t usually play. The band then closed out the album with an awesome rendition of Perpetual Change. Throughout the whole last set, the band got a standing ovation after every track, and they had every person inside the ballroom on their feet after the conclusion of The Yes Album.
The crowd turned raucous as they tried to get the five man band back out for an encore. Yes obliged as they closed the show with none other than the band’s biggest hit, Roundabout. It was a fitting end to the show and the whole crowd was into it, and the band received its final standing ovation, and that continued as the band took their bows.
Yes once again proved that they are one talented group of musicians, which is almost a prerequisite for anyone in a progressive rock band. Steve Howe once again also proved that he is one of the most technically sound guitar players out there and is extremely under-rated. They also proved that no matter who they have singing, they will put on one hell of a show and they are not to be missed the next time they come around.