Yes Newcastle City Hall 26 June 2022

yes5Well it finally happened. I contracted Covid! Possibly when I went to see the Rolling Stones at Anfield (at least I was in good company as a certain Sir Mick Jagger also went down with the nasty virus). Luckily we are both clear now although it took me a week to get there, that is before I tested negative. In the meantime I missed a few concerts but I was so wiped out I couldn’t possibly have attended. Still I was feeling just about well enough to venture out last night to see one of my favourite all-time bands, Yes.

Now they say that one forms allegiances to the bands that you see when you are young. This has certainly been the case with me. I first saw Yes in 1969 when I was all of 12 years old and they were supporting the Bonzo Dog Band (who had just been in the chart with “I’m an Urban Space Man”). The music was loud, exciting, bright and like nothing else I had ever experienced before. I went on my own and I was in the front row a few feet away from the band who, in those days was Jon Anderson (vocals), Peter Banks (guitar), Chris Squire (bass guitar), Tony Kaye (keyboards) and Bill Bruford (drums). Completely different from the lineup I saw last night.

yes2From that night on I was a lifelong Yes fan and must have seen them many, many times over the years since. The lineup has changed along a winding, meandering road with Steve Howe replacing Peter Banks on guitar in 1970 and Rick Wakeman and Alan White joining on keyboards and drums respectively, shortly afterwards. Then came many lineup changes, lots of classic albums, and mega prog stardom. Along the way Jon Anderson left, as did Rick Wakeman, and Steve Howe left and then rejoined the fold. Chris Squire and Alan White both sadly passed away; local hero Alan White very recently (he hailed from Chester le Street). But the true story of Yes is much much more complicated than that!

The current members of Yes are: Steve Howe – guitars (first joined in 1970); Geoff Downes – keyboards (first joined in 1980 for the Drama album in a strange incarnation of the band where he and Buggles compatriot Trevor Horn joined for a short period); Billy Sherwood – bass guitar (since 2015); Jon Davison – lead vocals (since 2012); Jay Schellen – drums (has been playing drums with the band since 2017, sometimes deputising for Alan White who sadly passed away in May 2022).

yes1The tour had originally been billed as a recreation of the Relayer album; however (and to my delight) something changed their minds and it became a recreation of the Close to the Edge album. A much better choice! The show started with something of a very pleasant surprise. Illustrator Roger Dean, creator of the Yes logo, many of their album covers and several other progressive rock LP covers, walked on stage and took us through a slideshow of his life as an illustrator and with Yes. Fantastic! This was followed by a fitting tribute to Alan White with many nice images of the great drummer appearing on the backdrop.
The band then took to the stage and started the first half of the show with a set comprising songs from throughout the band’s career. This includes to my delight “Yours Is No Disgrace” and “No Opportunity Necessary, No Experience Needed” the latter coming from the second album Time and a Word, an album on which none of the current members featured! This song, a cover of a Richie Havens track, with its swirling keyboards playing excerpts from the Western film The Big Country was always a favourite of mine in their early days. Other great songs were “Wondrous Stories” and an excellent rendition of “Clap” by Steve Howe. We were also treated to a couple of tracks from the latest Yes album The Quest, which seems to follow in the great tradition of Yes music. I have often asked “when is a band no longer a band?” In the case of Yes I think the latest incarnation does full justice to the great heritage of Yes music. The vocals are very reminiscent of the great John Anderson, who also fronts his own version of Yes music along with Rick Wakeman and Trevor Rabin, all former band members. Curiouser and curiouser! Anyway to answer my question “yes (no pun intended)” this grouping of musicians do indeed deserve the name. The first half of the show concluded with another great favourite “Heart of the Sunrise” from the Fragile album.

yes4During the interval I partook in a pint of lager (no Guinness I am afraid) and bought a couple of copies of the programme/book (one for my friend John in the USA) which is a sumptuous product celebrating the 50th anniversary of Close to the Edge and taking the reader through the whole history of the band.
The second set comprises the great album Close to the Edge played in its entirety. I had forgotten just how wonderful the tracks on this album are. The encores take us back to the early days and “Roundabout” followed by closing song “Starship Trooper”. A fantastic evening of Yes music. I hope I can experience many more such evenings.

Many thanks to Lisa for the photographs and Elaine for helping me into my bed. I must admit I was rather tired; to my shame I was finding it difficult to keep my eyes open towards the end of the set; Covid has taken its toll on me and it will take me some time to fully recover.


First set: On the Silent Wings of Freedom; Yours Is No Disgrace; No Opportunity Necessary, No Experience Needed; Does It Really Happen?; Clap; Wonderous Stories; The Ice Bridge; Dare to Know; Heart of the Sunrise.

Close to the Edge Set: Close to the Edge; And You and I; Siberian Khatru.

Encore: Roundabout; Starship Trooper.

16 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by L'Ornitho on June 27, 2022 at 3:36 pm

    Waiting for them too in Belgium !!


  2. Been a massive Yes fan since about 1972, seen them numerous times over the years, and whatever incarnation you see, they always deliver. The music speaks for itself, regardless of the line-up you see. I even got my son into them when I saw them at Sheffield about 20 years ago. A fantastic band! Thanks for sharing your thoughts.


    • Posted by vintagerock on June 27, 2022 at 4:33 pm

      I agree John they are always great! Where did the 53 years go since I 1st saw them? Happy days Peter


  3. Posted by Ian Stafford on June 27, 2022 at 5:39 pm

    Nice write up John, keep on getting better from your covid bout.


  4. Posted by Martin Kulkarni on June 27, 2022 at 6:06 pm

    Alan White (RIP) did not hail from Newcastle! A mistake Steve Howe also made during last nights concert. Alan was actually born in Pelton, County Durham (now Chester le Street!

    Great concert! Some enormous shoes attempting to be filled, and they were filled quite admirably! The extra loud cheer for Billy Sherwood was nice, given whose daunting shoes he was filling!

    Steve Howe was as niggly as ever, the finger dexterity gone, not surprisingly given his age!

    Looking forward to the ‘Relayer’ tour next year!


    • Posted by vintagerock on June 28, 2022 at 12:15 pm

      Thanks for the correction Martin. I should have known better. Will correct my entry best wishes Peter


  5. 26 June! You are very lucky indeed, I wish I had seen Yes at any time. Close To The Edge is one of the truly great albums. Yours is No Disgrace is awesome. Best wishes.


  6. Good to hear that you are getting out and about again, Peter.

    As regards the gig… I’m glad that you enjoyed them.
    I’m afraid that I fall into the category of the disenchanted, the significant minority I think.
    I simply can’t accept that this band is Yes.
    I saw them at Nottingham on the 18th and you can read my review here…



    • Posted by vintagerock on June 28, 2022 at 12:06 pm

      Thanks Roger I guess I am such a big fan I’ll grab at any opportunity to hear those classic songs again! Happy days Peter


  7. Posted by Peter Maggiore on June 28, 2022 at 10:15 am

    Hi Pete. I loved the music of Yes but was never comfortable with the vocals as I always thought Ian Anderson a bit droll. Never mind, nice review. Hope you’re on the way to recovery. Take care, Pete


    • Posted by vintagerock on June 28, 2022 at 12:03 pm

      Hi Pete I think you mean Jon Anderson not Ian Anderson! Yes I’m starting to feel better thank you. Happy days Peter


  8. Posted by John on June 29, 2022 at 6:58 am

    HI Peter, Sorry to hear you picked up the virus in Liverpool. Thanks for this write-up I was never a ‘Yes Man’ myself but I do remember they were very popular when I was a student in Sheffield and being impressed by their music booming out from the room next door in my hall of residence. All the best John


    • Posted by vintagerock on June 29, 2022 at 11:16 am

      Thanks John I am still getting over Covid. Yes I have always been a big fan. Was glad I was well enough to make the concert. Cheers Peter


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