YES (Live)

at City Hall, Newcastle, U.K., May 3, 2014

Many bands have toured on the back of playing a classic album in its entirety with Rush, Deep Purple and Dio all celebrating milestone albums in this way. Prog Rockers Yes are not a band to do things by halves or even thirds and are surely the only band who could attempt something quite as audacious as performing not one, not two but three whole albums from start to finish in one show.

With a 7:30 pm start and no support this was going to be one long show and certainly not one for the faint hearted or casual fan. This was not the place to be for any passing Punk Rocker or those preferring some foot tapping Pop tunes. This was heavy duty, premier league Prog Rock played by the absolute masters of the genre.


Guitarist Steve Howe explained before the show that Close To The Edge, Going For The One and The Yes album were selected from their vast catalogue as they each had different challenges and qualities and gave a good overall representation of the music of Yes and that pretty much summed it up in a nutshell.

Show opener Close To The Edge and Awaken saw Yes at their towering peak. Long, sprawling, complex arrangements with multifaceted sections moving from gentle acoustic sections to big bombastic, almost classical passages and back again, each part highlighting the intricate, superlative musicianship contained within the band.

Geoff Downes, formerly of The Buggles and also currently a member of Asia, was surrounded by banks of keyboards that would make the bridge of the Starship Enterprise green with envy and nowhere were they more effective than on the stirring church organ mid-section of Awaken. Chris Squire, the only constant in an ever changing line up, was the driving force and foundation of everything with bass lines so effervescent and driving that at times he played like a lead guitarist yet always locked in tightly with local lad Alan White on drums.


Steve Howe was outstanding throughout. For much of the show he was confined behind his guitar stand and pedal steel allowing him to switch effortlessly between the instruments but every now and then he’d break free jumping across the stage and sliding back again in some kind of Prog Rock Moonwalk.

New singer Jon Davison had a tough job and big shoes to fill. Jon Anderson’s high ranged voice was so synonymous with Yes that it’s almost inconceivable to think of these songs without it, yet Davison was outstanding both vocally and as a frontman. Whoever discovered him deserves a bonus.

There were moments of respite throughout an intense show with All Good People and Wondrous Stories seeing the band at their most accessible while Going For The One had an almost ’50’s Rockabilly feel to the opening sequence and some fluid pedal steel from Howe, who at times looked like a mad professor but with the skill and dexterity of a magician. Siberian Khartru was suitably funky while Squire’s pumping bass and the stabbing keyboards of Downes during Parallels were punchy and powerful.


With a back catalogue that stretches back a mind boggling 45 years it was always going to be nigh on impossible to fit everything in especially when three albums are played in their entirety which meant no place for Machine Messiah or any previews from their forthcoming album Heaven and Earth which was a shame but then you can’t have everything and at over 3 hours long there was more than enough music to keep even the most ardent Yes fan happy.


  • Mick Burgess

    Mick is a reviewer and photographer here at Metal Express Radio, based in the North-East of England. He first fell in love with music after hearing Jeff Wayne's spectacular The War of the Worlds in the cold winter of 1978. Then in the summer of '79 he discovered a copy of Kiss Alive II amongst his sister’s record collection, which literally blew him away! He then quickly found Van Halen I and Rainbow's Down To Earth, and he was well on the way to being rescued from Top 40 radio hell!   Over the ensuing years, he's enjoyed the Classic Rock music of Rush, Blue Oyster Cult, and Deep Purple; the AOR of Journey and Foreigner; the Pomp of Styx and Kansas; the Progressive Metal of Dream Theater, Queensrÿche, and Symphony X; the Goth Metal of Nightwish, Within Temptation, and Epica, and a whole host of other great bands that are too numerous to mention. When he's not listening to music, he watches Sunderland lose more football (soccer) matches than they win, and occasionally, if he has to, he goes to work as a property lawyer.

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