Yes

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author LF date 04/06/14 venue Train, Aarhus, DEN

Lately I seem to find myself attending shows by very well-established artists, the latest being seminal progressive rock band Yes who are currently on their Triple album Europe 2014 Tour, the name describing precisely the setup of it. On the tour they are playing three of their most important albums from the 1970's in their entirety, namely "The Yes Album" from 1971, "Close to the Edge" from 1972 and "Going for the One" from 1977. My interest in attending tonight is primarily based upon knowing that they are an important name in progressive rock history, and I'm curious to discover if they will be as interesting live in 2014 as they were on record in 1970. This is also my first time at the venue Train since they refurbished in January and I spend the time before the show wandering about, checking out the new and much more spacious and open interior. This soon becomes difficult however, as the venue gets incredibly crowded as we approach the time the band is supposed to begin.

All pictures by Hasan Jensen/Homage Photography

Yes

The stars enter the stage to great applause but only after we've heard nothing less than Igor Stravinsky's "Firebird Suite" accompanying a slide show of pictures that mark the highlights of the band's career on the big screen that fills out the entire backdrop. The same screen is also utilized for announcing the album name and title of every song they play tonight, rendering it essentially unnecessary for any of the band members to address the crowd at any point, but between each album they do us the courtesy of presenting the one that is next with little anecdote-like phrases. The visuals on the screen distract me majorly in the beginning as they feature relatively harmless images of mountains, galaxies, and shining, meditating figures, but all in an awkward PowerPoint fashion. At one point we are presented with the images of a giant turtle overlaid with pictures of the universe, so it seemingly swims through space, but by then I am luckily caught up in the music and avoid bursting into laughter.

They kick off tonight with 1972's "Close to the Edge". The exact moment when I stop being distracted and is successfully swooned by the music arrives with the third part, "I Get Up, I Get Down", of the twenty-minute long first song "Close to the Edge", when vocalist Jon Davison lets the strong notes ring clear across the room. The sound tonight is absolutely great, and even with their presumably old fingers, none of the musicians have trouble playing their fairly technical grooves. As the set progresses they are featured themselves in real-time on the screen from time to time, coupled with futuristic lights that effectively make them look like they could be musical prophets from space, reminding me of the surreal visuals of someone like Sun Ra. As they tell their somewhat otherworldly, spiritual stories with their music which seems retro and futuristic at the same time, they have an amazing presence in the room that is so intense that you can almost feel the music on your skin.

Next album we are presented with is 1977's "Going for the One". Before arriving tonight I had only just discovered that I actually know the song "Turn of the Century" from a cover version I loved as a child and so the experience of the original version live is a pretty special thing for me. Come the last song "Awaken", Chris Squire brings out his impressive triple bass to excited cheers from the audience. They all seem to be in good spirits tonight, especially Davison being all smiles as he grooves about the stage not only singing but also playing tambourine, glockenspiel, different chimes and electronic congas. He is not the only with a variety of instruments at his disposal. Squire and guitarist Steve Howe regularly change their instruments, drummer Alan White plays one of the most extensive set of drums I've seen in a live setting, and keyboardist Geoff Downes has all of six different keyboards at his disposal. All this makes for an incredibly interesting set with great variety in sound even as the general expression of the music stays in the same spacey universe.

After this album there's an intermission of twenty minutes, and this is the first time at a show when I've experienced there being no queue at all for the women's toilets, which definitely says something about the demographic here tonight. As Yes finally play 1971's "The Yes Album", the audience is rocking out everywhere in the venue and the clapping between songs is never-ending. Howe performs "Clap" on his own to great applause, and when they bow and exit the stage the entire room is cheering and clapping for them to come back for an encore with an intensity I've rarely experienced. They concede and their song of choice for the encore, "Roundabout", is well received by the grateful audience. It is rare that I can go to a show with a band that I barely know, and find time just flying by like this while not being bored at one single moment, so after this my image of Yes being a band that might have overstayed their welcome by a few years has utterly been revoked.

9

Setlist:

  • 1. Close to the Edge
  • 2. And You and I
  • 3. Siberian Khatru
  • 4. Going for the One
  • 5. Turn of the Century
  • 6. Parallels
  • 7. Wonderous Stories
  • 8. Awaken
  • 9. Yours Is No Disgrace
  • 10. Clap
  • 11. Starship Trooper
  • 12. I've Seen All Good People
  • 13. A Venture
  • 14. Perpetual Change

-- Encore --

  • 15. Roundabout

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