Full disclosure, I was never a massive “Yes” fan. I liked some of their stuff and certainly appreciated their musicianship but I found Jon Andersons voice kinda whiny and all the “Pixies and Elves” undertones grated on me a little, so throw in a couple of dodgy Fairlight keyboard solos and I was generally reaching for the off button. They were however the only band I knew who could make me feel like I was going up and coming down, all at the same time.
So in short, I hadn’t listened to “Yes” for years, so when a good friend of mine recently turned 50 and I saw that they were coming to Dublin – I bought a couple of tickets. While spending many years listening to various kinds of music often from the wrong side of a bong (is there a right side? well Yes! – lol) – I kinda forgot about them – but did appreciate them as a historic part of my musical wallpaper.
Their music is actually hard to quantify, straddling Jazz, Rock and Pop they are certainly major players in the prog-rock arena, in fact they pretty much invented the genre. Prog, I feel, has a bad name and this is unjustified as there can be many a moment of brilliance littered through the sonic jungles of Focus, Tangerine Dream, Ozric Tentacles etc. Just don’t expect your wife to be ecstatic as you go shopping for groceries on a Saturday afternoon and you suggest lashing on “Pungent Effulgent”.
Anyway, the gig was bloody amazing. They had a punky feel live that I just wasn’t expecting – it was high energy, quixotic, schizophrenic hippy punk rock jazz of the highest order. I thouroughly enjoyed myself and even though the audience was a mix of young hippy types, aging hippy types, people who looked like they worked for the health board or other sundry government departments, young hippy types who will soon be working for the government etc. There was a sense of immediacy in the performance that was very impressive. It still all sounded fresh after all these years. Steve Howes playing was amazing, the Rickenbacker bass was punky and melodic. Rickwakeman Jnr tickled the ivories and Benoit David stood in for Jon Anderson admirably filling the shoes of the original “Yes” frontman. There were some lovely lush vocal harmonies throughout.
If you can catch the show in Belfast I say go!!