Yes – 18th March 2018 – Gateshead Sage
By Gordon Armstrong (G’s Gig Shots)
The familiar strains of the Firebird Suite from the PA heralds the start of a 2 hour 40 minute celebration of 50 years of Yes music tonight. Led by Steve Howe the band take to the stage and dive right in with with a double dose of Yours Is No Disgrace and Seen All Good People from The Yes Album much to the audiences delight.
The night is split into two sets with the first half covering titles from what most consider their “classic” period 68-78. Some nice inclusions in the set that haven’t been aired in some time like Sweet Dreams from Time And A Word and old faithfuls like And You And I hold everyone captivated.
No celebration of Yes would be complete without the artwork that accompanied the albums and the work of Roger Dean and Hipgnosis is brought to life via projections throughout enhancing each song along the way. I was a little sad that my personal favourite album Relayer was ignored in the set but you can’t have everything.
The band are musically brilliant and even though the unmistakenable Chris Squire bass sound is a huge miss Billy Sherwood has filled those big shoes rather well. Dedicating Going For The Ones’ Parallels to Chris’ memory reminds everyone of the phenomenal bass lines he put in to so many of their pieces and Geoff Downes fingers flew across the keyboards all night! “Hit” single Wonderous Stories also brings home just how good Jon Davisons’ vocal is nailing every song and tricky lyric pretty much note perfect which is no mean feat considering their originator!!
That said, all the harmonies from Billy Steve and Jon were spot on! After a short interval the second set begins and the band take on Sides 1 and 4 and an excerpt of side 3 of 1973’s Tales From Topographic Oceans, which was the bands first Gold album, just on pre-orders alone. The album still has a lot of fans divided due to even by “prog” standards its excess of 1 track per side of a double album! Ritual, for me, still has one of their most beautiful melodies in Nous Sommes Du Soleil and Steve Howe’s steel guitar parts still bring out the goosebumps every time!
Towards the end the band are joined by drummer Alan White who can only perform a short part of the set due to injury (Jay Schellen sitting in for the rest of the set) and he receives a standing ovation from the appreciative crowd as Roundabout and Starship Trooper see out the night with everyone on their feet dancing in the aisles clapping along.
The 50 years of Yes have been a big part in my own 55, having been loaned a copy of Close To The Edge and Fragile when I was a teenager and I was hooked. Tonight was a great reminder of those times and as to why the bands music still holds a special place in so many hearts.
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