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Yes in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada

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jeffh View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Quote jeffh Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Topic: Yes in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada
    Posted: March 29 2014 at 19:21
Just posted this to Ticketmaster's site, figured it would be equally if not more appreciated over here.

An Evening with YES
 @ Pantages Playhouse Theatre  - Winnipeg, MB  - Wed, Mar 26, 2014
Posted 03/29/2014

As a longtime Yes fan who has never seen the band live before, I was very much looking forward to this show, and it didn't disappoint. Granted, some of the more recognizable names such as Jon Anderson and Rick Wakeman were not with them, but this group did a solid job of convincing me that it deserves to carry the Yes name, even if new singer Jon Davison (also of Glass Hammer) does look a little odd next to his four much older bandmates. Stalwarts Steve Howe, Chris Squire and Alan White are still present, with Howe being maybe my single biggest reason for being a Yes fan. The current lineup is rounded out by keyboardist Geoff Downes, probably best known for his role alongside Howe in prog-pop supergroup Asia. As the answer to some trivia question somewhere, Downes is also the only man to be a member of Yes for more than one studio album without ever being bandmates with Anderson, having been in the band for 1980's Drama and 2011's Fly From Here (and soon for Heaven And Earth as well).

The set consisted of complete play-throughs of three classic Yes albums - 1972's Close to the Edge, 1977's Going For The One, and 1971's The Yes Album, in that (rather odd) order. A little disappointingly, the encore was just one song, Roundabout. With the show coming just two days after announcing that they had finished recording Heaven And Earth, I was rather hoping for some small preview of the new material in addition to this solid if predictable choice.

There wasn't much else to complain about, though.

Playing the albums in the above order means opening with all 19 minutes of the title track from Close to the Edge, which is a pretty ballsy way to start a show; a bad or even only-okay performance of this piece would trash the credibility of any band claiming to be Yes. Happily, what we got was a solid, engaging performance that went ever-so-slightly beyond the album version. I think it might have been a little strange for the uninitiated, with its fusion-y opening and constantly shifting tempos - one girl sitting near me, who was obviously there with her much more Yes-acquainted boyfriend, looked kind of confused throughout - but the rest of us pretty much rose to our feet as one as the piece reached its triumphant conclusion.

As for the remaining two songs from Close to the Edge, of *course* And You And I was a highlight, but what pleasantly surprised me was Siberian Khatru, Frankly, I've never been that big a fan of this track in its studio incarnation - a straightforward rocker, by Yes standards - but its relative simplicity and energetic pace turned out to be just what the show needed after two long, somewhat mellow pieces. I think I left with something of a new appreciation for this song, or at least for its useful role in a concert setlist.

Going for the One was a bit more of a mixed bag (which I'll be discussing out of order by the way). The title track is decent but nothing special, and while I know Wondrous Stories has its fans, I've never been that impressed with it. Granted, it's kind of neat to see Steve on lute and Jon on guitar for the latter. Parallels, on the other hand, is a great little showpiece, for similar reasons to Siberian Khatru; actually, this would have made a pretty awesome opener if the band had been willing to juggle the running orders a little. It may be worth noting that the girl I mentioned earlier was clearly into the show by this point, smiling and head-bopping throughout.

Turn of the Century might be my favourite song of all time. The rendition here was nothing short of heart-rending, easily the most emotionally engaging song Yes ever recorded in my book, with Steve Howe's understated classical guitar perhaps exceeding the magic it works on the studio version. I think Awaken might actually have been a bit shorter than the original, with the slow instrumental section in the middle compressed a bit (a mercy, as that might be the most boring four or five minutes Yes ever recorded). Awaken is another long, complex piece with lots of good bits, most of which were very well translated here, but unfortunately in this case the finale failed to match the epic power of the recorded version, on which Steve Howe channels David Gilmour while Wakeman conjures up choirs of angels on a century-old pipe organ.

After an intermission, the set resumed with The Yes Album. While there's not a single song on either of the other albums played here that would be surprising to see in a normal Yes concert setlist (the Keys to Ascension set list, for example, contained all of Close to the Edge and most of Going For The One), it's very nice to see A Venture get a bit of a day in the sun; this little gem was another highlight, with Downes getting a nice extended piano solo at the end. Still, this was the album where I most wished the band had been willing to shuffle the order a bit. Even "flipping the record" to do the original side 2 first would let the second set open with I've Seen All Good People (a stronger start than Yours Is No Disgrace) and close with Starship Trooper and more specifically its epic final movement Wurm, rather than the plodding Perpetual Change (of all the eight-minute-plus songs in this setlist, the only one I'd actually describe as over-long).

Still, The Yes Album has its share of highlights no matter what order you play it in, even if I view it as the least interesting of the three albums played on this tour. The crowd went especially crazy for Howe's ragtime-ish solo piece Clap (hilariously mislabelled "The Clap" on the original album, a mistake recent pressings have finally got around to fixing), and of course Wurm was a highlight, even if I wished for Wakeman to be there trading solos with Howe as he does on the Keys to Ascension version.

I'm giving five stars although if fractional ratings were allowed, it would be four and a half - there were enough minor flaws and missed opportunities that I can't pretend the show was perfect. But its best moments were nothing short of magical, and even its worst, like the not entirely successful battle to make a big end-of-set showpiece out of Perpetual Change, still came out pretty decent. It would be even better if Steve Howe would crack a smile once in a while, but you can't have everything!

Favourite moment:
And You And I, Siberian Khatru, Turn of the Century, Clap, Wurm (i.e. last third of Starship Trooper)

Setlist:
Close to the Edge, And You And I, Siberian Khatru, Going for the One, Turn of the Century, Parallels, Wondrous Stories, Awaken, Yours is No Disgrace, Clap, Starship Trooper, I've Seen All Good People, A Venture, Perpetual Change, Roundabout

Opening act(s):
none
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cstack3 View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Quote cstack3 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: March 30 2014 at 12:33
^Thank you for a very well-written and heartfelt review!  I can just imagine this young lady's confusion!!  

I think it might have been a little strange for the uninitiated, with its fusion-y opening and constantly shifting tempos - one girl sitting near me, who was obviously there with her much more Yes-acquainted boyfriend, looked kind of confused throughout - but the rest of us pretty much rose to our feet as one as the piece reached its triumphant conclusion.



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Dellinger View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Quote Dellinger Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: March 30 2014 at 23:26
If you thought Jon Davison looked a bit out of place within the band, you should have seen Benoit...

Oh, and by the way, I do like much better Starship Trooper's version on Keys to Ascension too... if the song doesn't include Wakeman's input in the Wurm section as well as Howe's, it just sounds incomplete to me. Though, on the ohter hand, I do love the middle Wakeman section from Awaken, and I like much better the Keys to Ascension version too, in which Wakeman actually made it longer than it's original studio version (or perhaps you are more familiar to the Keys to Ascension version and that's why you felt that section was shortened).
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Post Options Post Options   Quote jeffh Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: March 31 2014 at 15:14
Well, I'm probably most familiar with the studio version. Keys is/are the only live Yes album(s) I've listened to more than once, but I wasn't specifically thinking of that version of Awaken.
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Post Options Post Options   Quote Dellinger Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: March 31 2014 at 19:43
OK then. Hey, perhaps you might like yes's symphonic live album/DVD... that's a great piece too, and the orchestrations fit perfectly with the band. I really love that one too.
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Post Options Post Options   Quote jeffh Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: April 05 2014 at 23:07
What I've seen on YouTube of the symphonic stuff was amazing, now that you mention it. Thanks for the reminder, you're right, I will have to check that out at some point.
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Post Options Post Options   Quote Dellinger Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: April 06 2014 at 21:00
The thing I love about that one, on video of course, is how the orchestras is notoriously having fun and enjoying performing with the band, unlike with other releases of rock bands with orchestras where the orchestra members are all serious and seem to be there just to get the job done. Plus, many of the songs are killer versions and the best version the band has released... specially Close to the Edge, and even more so Gates of Delirium.

Edited by Dellinger - April 06 2014 at 21:00
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Post Options Post Options   Quote spiderxbass Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: April 13 2014 at 13:41
I had the opportunity to see them in Vancouver a few days before and It was amazing. Howe was enjoying every moment. Having the opportuinty to see that old guy playing and having fun like that was priceless.
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Post Options Post Options   Quote jeffh Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: April 20 2014 at 02:04
Originally posted by jeffh


Favourite moment: And You And I, Siberian Khatru, Turn of the Century, Clap, Wurm (i.e. last third of Starship Trooper)
Forgot to mention the moment at the very beginning of Awaken when Chris Squire briefly exits the stage and walks back on with that comical-looking triple-necked guitar/bass thing he uses on that song. I think it actually got a laugh, though he proceeds to fully justify the existence of every single ludicrous-looking inch of it during the actual song.

Edited by jeffh - April 20 2014 at 02:07
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