Tuesday, 15 November 2011

Yes Glasgow 2011

Yes Glasgow 2011
12th November 2011

Glasgow SECC

Driving through to this gig I pondered on the fact it was almost 34 years to the day since I first saw Yes in concert.  Thirty-four-fucking-years!  If that is not a notion to remind one a telegram from the Grim Reaper is in the post somewhere along the line, I don’t know what is. 

I was joking with Wife before I left that, despite the above I could well be the youngest person at the concert, but as I drew into the SECC car-park I was more than little surprised to note (a) how busy the place was – I hadn’t realised the band were still this popular, and (b) how young(ish) a number of the fans were.  Very clearly, I had also severely underestimated the band’s ability to draw in new listeners from across the generations.

In the car parked next to mine two girls (who if no longer teenagers, were certainly no older than mid-20s) were investing what seemed to me to be an inordinate amount of time grooming and applying make-up.  Very clearly they were hoping to pull this particular evening, but quite what sort of talent they expected to be on offer at a Yes concert I could not imagine.  I could not help but think they were in for a major disappointment, but reflected maybe they were going on somewhere afterwards to inflict their damage.

Entering the SECC itself, there was still this nagging feeling that the crowd just looked too young, too excitable and dammit, too cool.  I wandered along to the merchandise stall to see what sort of overpriced nonsense was on-sale, and stood dumfounded to see it was all Red Hot Chilli Peppers stuff.  I pulled out my ticket, and rechecked the date.  I even checked the year, just in case I had managed to turn up twelve months too early (something which is not beyond me, believe me).  I glanced at a ticket in the hand of someone passing – his was identical to mine but with one important difference: where mine had Yes printed, his clearly stated Red Hot Chilli Peppers.  It was all most disorientating, and I began to wonder if I had somehow wandered into an episode of the Twilight Zone.

Deciding there was no option but to risk looking a Complete Arse, I approached one of the security staff, who with infinite patience informed me, as I am sure she had already done with a large number of equally befuddled wrinklies that evening, that The Red Hot Chilli Peppers were playing in the main hall, whilst Yes had just about managed to sell out the little Conference Hall outside: The Armadillo, as it is known.  Upon tracking down and entering this venue, I immediately felt at home amongst the profusion of grey hair, baldy bits and fat bellies.  Ah, these were my people!

After the band took the stage to Britton’s Young Person’s Guide to the Orchestra, the set opened with surprisingly lumpen and pedestrian version of Yours is No Disgrace.  Played at what seemed around ¾ speed, the harmonies were particularly weak – Chris Squire the worst offender.  Then did I remind myself the chap was in his mid-sixties now, after all.

Things soon picked up however, and Tempus Fugit

and All Good People both hit the mark before Life on a Film Set, the weakest song on the new album by a long way, was given an airing.  I know Jon Anderson had a proclivity for occasional lyrical silliness, but there really can be no excuse for Trevor Horn (I assume) to follow in his footstep with such guff as:

"All the poems of my neighbours
That drift across the sand
Are just the tendrils of a vast
But gentle plant which they command."

Dearie me. 

New lad Benoit David introduced And You and I, and produced a vocal performance at least as impressive as we had any right to expect from someone who was not Jon Anderson.  He also managed more than passable imitations on Wonderous Stories and Your Move, whilst simultaneously bringing something of his own to each.  Which is no mean feat.  I felt his stage presence could do with a bit of work though, as he seemed content to lurk in the background during instrumental passages, performing odd, almost camp (not that there is anything wrong with camp) pirouettes and croise devant.  He put me in mind of nothing so much as a slightly beefier version of Erasure’s Andy Bell in his heyday.

The title track from the new album Fly From Here was played in its entirety, and whilst I acknowledge the main theme is a quality pop song, the whole suite has been padded out more than somewhat.  I felt they could probably have left out parts 4 & 5 from the live rendition.  I think I was not alone in this view, as midway through the piece you could clearly hear little murmured conversations starting up amongst the audience – a sure-fire sign that interest has waned.

No such problem though with another of the new songs: Into the Storm.

This one White-propelled, rattles along showcasing tight harmonies during the verses with David’s voice coming to the fore in the chorus.  Add in a decent set of lyrics, and a Howe guitar solo towards the end reminiscent of the Close to the Edge opening, and you have probably the band’s best new recording in 20 years.  Well I think so, anyway.

Machine Messiah and Starship Trooper closed the set: the former another song which may have benefited from a haircut, although Starship Trooper finally got the crowd to their feet.  The sole encore Roundabout was as good as I have heard it played, and a fitting end to a most enjoyable evening.

See you all in 2045, Lads.

Set List

Your is No Disgrace
Tempus Fugit
Your Move/All Good People
Life on a Film Set
And You and I
Fly From Here
Wonderous Stories
Into The Storm
Machine Messiah
Starship Trooper


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