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Concert Review & Photos - Yes

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Over the years, there have been very few bands that have been able to develop a solid blueprint for long-term success.  Many have tried and failed, while others have gone the distance and remained relevant in this “modern age” of music.  Artists like The Rolling Stones, The Who, and Rush are among those elite who have withstood the test of time and continued to perform at the top of their game over careers that have literally spanned decades.  Another such band that sits among these time-tested heavyweights is Yes.  Founded in London, England in 1968, this progressive rock band has endured everything from multiple lineup changes to breaking up and everything in between over an incredible 45+ year career.  I had always heard great things about Yes and their live performances, but never actually got a chance to see them in concert.  Instead, I had to rely on their extensive catalog while hoping that the stars would align and one day would be able to catch this iconic band live here in Southern California.  Well, I finally got to check Yes off my concert “bucket-list” and got to see them live and in-person on Saturday night.

As I entered The Grove in Anaheim, CA, I could immediately feel that this show was going to be special.  The venue was packed, and an electricity filled the air that I had not felt at a concert in quite some time.  As the legions of Yes fans waited in anticipation for the show to begin, I could not help but wonder if these guys would live up to my ultra-high expectations (heck, who really does these days?) Waiting for the show to begin, I struck up a conversation with a gentleman who shared with me this was his 118th Yes show (you heard that right - #118!) I could not believe he had been to that many shows (which averages out to be almost 3 shows per year over the bands entire career).  After sharing some addition fun-facts about Yes, he told me to strap myself in for an unbelievable night of music.  At that very moment, the lights dropped and this sold-out crowd went absolutely crazy.  The giant LCD screens began to flash funky psychedelic images (made famous by long-time Yes artist Roger Dean), and the band everyone had been waiting patiently to see was finally taking the stage. 

As a short prelude came to an end, vocalist Jon Davison, bassist Billy Sherwood, keyboardist Geoff Downes, drummer Jay Schellen (filling in for the ailing Alan White), and the legendary guitarist Steve Howe all took the stage.  After a few brief waves to the crowd, the band was off and running with their 10-minute epic “Machine Messiah”, off of their 1980 classic LP, Drama (which was played in its entirety).  Act I concluded with two of my favorite early catalog tracks – “I’ve Seen Good People” and “Siberian Khatru”.  Both tracks were clean, crisp, and instrumentally spot-on.  What stood out to me throughout the opening set was the cohesiveness of the latest incarnation of this band. It would stand to reason that the complexity of these songs might be challenging to some of the newer band members – especially Davison and Schellen.  However, their performances were nothing short of amazing and ultimately delivered a near-flawless performance.

After short intermission, the band launched into another 10-minute masterpiece, “And You and I” (off of the 1972 LP Close to the Edge).  This was immediately followed by selections from Tales from Topographic Oceans. My favorite track from this album was “Leaves of Green” - an excerpt from “The Ancient (Giants Under the Sun)”.  Davison’s vocals were masterful and Howe’s sheer brilliance on guitar mesmerized the Yes faithful into a trance-like state that lasted up until the final chord of “Nous Sommes du Soleil”.  Simply breathtaking.  The show wrapped up with a killer encore consisting of fan-favorites “Roundabout” and “Starship Trooper”.  There was not a single person at The Grove in their seats during their final reprise.  Everyone (and I mean everyone) was out of their chair singing and celebrating with a band they have grown to love over the past four decades.  There could not have been a better ending to this powerful set.

When the dust had settled and everyone was back on solid ground, I finally had a chance to collect my thoughts.  Did Yes live up to all the hype and exceed my expectations?  One word – Absolutely. Howe, Downes, Davison, Schellen, and Sherwood laid all of their cards on the table and pulled out all of the stops in this once-in-a-lifetime show. It was clear to everyone that what was just witnessed was a special performance (and maybe one of their best on their 2016 Album Series Tour).  Maybe Jon Davison said it best earlier in the show, “It’s been a great tour, but my heart belongs to OC”.  Coincidence?  I think not.  If you get a chance to see these guys live on tour this fall, please do.  It’s definitely a “bucket-list” type of show that leaves nothing (and everything) to one’s imagination.

For more information on Yes and their current US tour – Click here.

Set List:

Act 1


  • Machine Messiah
  • White Car
  • Does It Really Happen?
  • Into the Lens
  • Run Through the Light
  • Tempus Fugit

I’ve Seen All Good People

Siberian Khatru

Act 2: 

And You and I

Selections from Tales from Topographic Oceans

  • The Revealing Science of God / Dance of the Dawn
  • Leaves of Green (excerpt from ‘The Ancient / Giants Under the Sun (Duet by Steve Howe & Jon Davison)
  • Ritual / Nous Sommes du Soleil



Starship Trooper


Stay Frosty and Rock On!


Matthew Belter

Executive Editor - Long Beach

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