Yes takes a walk down memory lane by performing their seminal albums, Drama and Fragile, in full to a packed house in Newcastle.
In what is to be a treat for the North East fans of the progressive rock legends, Yes is performing two of their treasured albums in their entirety for the first time. The audience is fortunate for the opportunity to hear these albums as they were originally conceived. Both records mark significant points in the band’s history. Fragile welcomed Rick Wakeman into the fold and the subsequent Drama was a watershed moment in the group’s career propelling them into the eighties.
Yes has an association with Newcastle, of course; drummer Alan White is originally from County Durham, a mere stone’s throw away. Trevor Horn, who performed on the Drama album and who will rejoin the band for two special shows in Oxford and the Royal Albert Hall, is also a North East lad. Lastly, the band performed on this very stage 36 years ago as part of the original Drama tour.
Tonight we remember Yes bass player Chris Squire, who sadly passed away last year after a tragic illness. Squire wished that the band would continue without him; as such, he chose Billy Sherwood to take his place.
As the house lights fall, the stage is illuminated with images of Squire throughout various stages of his career with the band accompanied by the sound of “Onward” from their 1978 album, Tormato. It is a fitting and touching tribute, which leaves the whole room standing to show their respect. While Chris Squire is gone, his legend lives on.
The show is made up of two parts, the first of which comprises of the Drama album and open with the epic, “Machine Messiah.” Billy Sherwood demonstrates the reason he was chosen for the gig with his superb bass intro that leads into, “Does It Really Happen.”
The band is tight, particularly on the likes of “Run Through The Light,” with each artist complimenting one another so well. Steve Howe dedicates “Time and a Word” to the late Peter Banks. “Siberian Khatru” closes out the Drama album review and features some exceptional vocal harmonies between Howe, Sherwood, and Jon Davison, the later who has a superb vocal range.
After a brief break, the band returns to the stage with all guns blazing as they take us through 1971s Fragile album and the opener “Roundabout.” Geoff Downes takes his moment in the spotlight dueling with Wakeman’s classicly inspired “Cans and Brahms.” The infectious melody of “South Side of the Sky” results in rapturous applause before the band shows off their jazzier side with “Five Percent of Nothing.”
The rhythm section of Billy Sherwood and Alan White grapple with Chris Squire’s “The Fish (Schindleria Praematurus)” and do the track justice. Steve Howe takes center stage for the beautiful classical acoustic piece, “Mood For A Day,” before the band brings Fragile to a close with the epic “Heart Of The Sunrise,” which results in a standing ovation from the Geordie crowd.
But Yes is not done yet. They continue to play a trio of fan favorites from their extensive back catalog, including “Don’t Kill The Whale” and the unmistakable “Owner of a Lonely Heart.” They bring the evening to a close with the classic, “Starship Trooper.”
The music of Yes is alive and well, and in safe hands. Long may they continue.