Sunday, 6 September 2015

Live review: Yes + Toto, Foxwoods Resort Casino, Aug. 7, 2015

1035x690-_MG_4644
Billy Sherwood, by Leslie dela Vega for Rolling Stone

Yes + Toto
Foxwoods Resort Casino, Mashantucket, MA, Aug. 7, 2015
RollingStone.com
August 8, 2015

My second piece of music writing for Rolling Stone, and a review I ought to have posted a long time ago… the very first show by Yes following the untimely death of founding bassist-vocalist Chris Squire on June 27. A deeply melancholy event, which started with a tribute that couldn't have been better.

Weeks before the show, emailing among a select group of longtime prog-inclined friends, I suggested that the best and most tasteful tribute Yes could offer would be a photo montage projected during a performance of Squire's most beautiful song, the ballad "Onward," from the otherwise largely lamentable LP Tormato.

What we got instead was the Tormato recording of "Onward" (which meant Jon Anderson's voice and Rick Wakeman's keyboards heard during a Yes concert for the first time since 2004), a photo montage with images of Squire through the years, aswirl in rainbows and constellations – and, maybe the crowning touch, Squire's signature white Rickenbacker bass guitar, alone in a spotlight just off center stage.

It was, in a word, breathtaking.

Having predicted that gesture more or less correctly, I have to add that my guess at the evening's set list – first emailed among the aforementioned friends, and then posted to Facebook – couldn't have been much more wrong. Presuming that the band would opt for caution, based on sets played in past casino shows and co-headlining spots, I'd ventured this guess:

Intro: Firebird Suite
Siberian Khatru
I've Seen All Good People
And You and I
Onward [tribute to Chris Squire]
Long Distance Runaround > The Fish (Schindleria Praematurus)
Starship Trooper

Encore:
Owner of a Lonely Heart
Roundabout

Instead, Yes showed a bit more range and flair for adventure than I'd anticipated:

Onward (recording) [tribute to Chris Squire]
Intro: Firebird Suite
Don't Kill the Whale
Tempus Fugit
America (Simon & Garfunkel cover)
Going for the One
Time and a Word
Clap
I've Seen All Good People
Siberian Khatru
Owner of a Lonely Heart
Roundabout

Encore:
Starship Trooper

It didn't surprise me at all that Billy Sherwood could be a worthy stand-in for his friend and comrade. Not only had he served a previous stint in Yes during the 1990s (albeit on keyboards in the studio, and on second guitar onstage) and helped to engineer, mix, and/or produce several latter-day Yes albums (including the most recent, Heaven & Earth), but Sherwood also briefly ran a rock-solid West Coast band called Circa, whose other members were Yes drummer Alan White (initially), original Yes keyboardist Tony Kaye, and guitarist Jimmy Haun, whose extensive studio credits include work on that most contentious of all Yes albums, Union. (Wikipedia also reveals that Haun was responsible for the Yahoo yodeling theme and the Expedia dot commmm musical tag.)

Here's Circa in 2007 playing its Yes medley, which packs portions of 28 Yes songs into just under 40 minutes.

It will be interesting to see what comes next, beyond an already planned 2016 European tour on which the band will be playing the Fragile and Drama albums in their entirety. Most interviews with band members after the release of Heaven & Earth indicated that there was more music available; some even referred to an "epic-length" selection by Jon Davison and Geoff Downes.

Might Yes pursue any of this material, augmented with input from the quite capable Sherwood? Or will the band opt for an lengthy stint on the oldies circuit, likely to diminishing returns? Clearly it's too soon to say – but speaking as a fan, rather than as a professional music journalist, I do hope that the group considers taking the first path, hard as it might seem to imagine.



Original Content: Live review: Yes + Toto, Foxwoods Resort Casino, Aug. 7, 2015

No comments:

Post a Comment