The classic rock band, YES made a stop in Clearwater Florida on July 26th to play for a sold-out Capitol Theater, full of dedicated fans! This tour, however, was very special due to it being the 50th anniversary of the band. Making it 50 years in this industry is a very rare accomplishment for any band nowadays. The one thing I think always set these guys apart from other bands were the great harmonies between multiple members. With so many different layers and pitches, it was very pleasant to listen to and matched the album versions perfectly. There were 3 video boards behind the band displayed all sorts of cosmic and psychedelic images and patterns.
Also, it was accompanied by a bunch of other lights which illuminated the entire theater perfectly to set the mood for each song. The lead singer, Jon Davison, used a wind chime as an interlude from the first song into the second. He had quite the array of percussion instruments including a tambourine, digital drum pad, cowbell, and a stick with bells he would tap to the beat of the song. Practically every song he would grab something from his mic stand set up and add some extra layers to the song during a vocal break.
Geoff Downes, the keyboard player was encompassed by a U shaped set up with at least 9 keyboards, 3 laptops, and all sorts of other synth items. During the second song, he was stretched across the U playing 2 different sets of keys simultaneously! He stepped back out of the spotlight for a bit to let Tony Kaye have a spot near the front of the stage and play the 3 encore songs with everyone.
Guitarist Steve Howe had a ton of different instruments he used as well. A red Fender Strat, mandolin, Gibson semi-hollow, acoustic, lap steel, and a headless guitar as well. The recordings do him no justice at all. Hearing him play live and be able to recreate every song flawlessly, was mind-blowing to watch.
Jay Shellen, the touring drummer played the first set and about half of the second set before giving up the throne to the longest serving drummer of the band’s history, Alan White. The special guest came out to play on a few songs and jam with everyone and was smiling the whole time, having a blast.
Bassist, Billy Sherwood was by far my favorite member to watch play. His style is so incredible and unique, doing a fantastic job of playing all the songs exactly how the late, Chris Squire, would have played them. The bass was so prevalent in the mix that you can hear it crystal clear even when everything else is going on. I wish more concerts were mixed like this because the bass player is usually lost amongst the other instruments.
I always believed this band was way before their time with the insane level of technicality each musician brought to the table. You don’t see this level of ability unless you look into some modern metal bands who have incorporated elements of classical and progressive songwriting into their albums these days. At times there are 3 solos going on from the bassist, guitarist, and keyboardist, independently and all unique.
As a casual fan of the band, only knowing the greatest hits CD, this show gave me a greater appreciation for the entire catalog they have created over 50 years. Also, I noticed I was by far the youngest person in the room at just under 30. . . But that is to be expected with a band that was before my time. All in all, it was a great show that will keep me listening to this band and dive a bit deeper into some of the unknown songs to learn more about them.