Yes brings stage show to Europe, Asia
Stars and Stripes June 27, 2003
MAINZ, Germany — Yes, they’re on tour.
The progressive-rock outfit has hit the road. And just like the original “Star Trek” cast in the movies, the Yes men are more grizzled than during their heyday — yet they’re actually better.
Yes shares much with “Star Trek.” It’s easy to picture the lads beaming down to turquoise planetscapes painted by album cover artist Roger Dean, preaching peace via Byzantine lyrics to the aliens.
A good number of those little green men would have wound up joining Yes on keyboards. The band has long had a reputation for being a musician conveyor belt, and it’s a syndrome the act has suffered from, even recently.
The last album, 2001’s “Magnification,” did away with keyboardists altogether in favor of an orchestra.
Longtime fans should be pleased that Yes has now filled the keyboard slot with the one man they would have asked for all along: Rick Wakeman, the whirling dervish of ivory ticklers who once wedged a cathedral organ into rock ’n’ roll.
Yes is not hawking a new album on the current Full Circle Tour. Instead, the band is dusting off some serious vintage, indulging in long solos and celebrating the return of Wakeman. Expect no “Owner of a Lonely Heart.” Do expect “Don’t Kill the Whale.”
At last week’s Mainz show, a frail Steve Howe eschewed a rock vibe in favor of the clinical treatment, nodding at the crowd after an acoustic number as if to say, “Get it?”
Chris Squire and Alan White unleashed a seismic rhythm section, the former’s bass prowess provoking a series of “Wayne’s World” bows from at least one fan. Singer Jon Anderson, all treble and Zen, was plainly happy Yes still existed at all.
The classic songs are more polished than you remember from that Thorens turntable. The band has added complexity to songs that were already complex in the ’70s. And they avoided burying this architecture in pop metal distortion as Yes did during the ’80s. More notes, apparently, are better notes.
Howe added a pronounced stereo effect, and Wakeman’s half-circle of keyboards offered a technological arsenal unheard of during the bell-bottom years.
But newer isn’t always better. Of all Wakeman’s gadgets, the mightiest was a wooden box full of keys and dials. He touched it only a couple times during the solo, but the resulting rumble would seize a Rolex.
He proved the Minimoog, the Atari 2600 of synthesizers, still packs a sonic wallop. And it’s certainly enough to beam you to way back when.
Yes plays Paris on Saturday and Glastonbury, England, on Sunday.
The band will play several European dates in July with stops in Britain, Germany, Italy, Spain and Switzerland. Yes tours Japan in September. For dates and other info, see: www.yesworld.com.