With no Canadian dates scheduled for the Drama/Tales 1 & 4 YES Summer 2016 tour, we headed over the border to ArtPark in Lewiston NY to catch the band as they entered the second week of the tour…………review and photos by Tim Darbyshire.
As part of Artpark’s $12 open-air Tuesday night series, YES returned to Lewiston after an absence of 4 years with a brave set of 1980’s ‘Drama’ album in its entirety and half of 1973’s controversial ‘Tales From Topographic Oceans’, interspersed with classic YES staples ‘I’ve Seen All Good People’, ‘Siberian Khatru’, ‘And You And I’, ‘Roundabout’ and ‘Starship Trooper’.
Shortly before the tour began, it was announced that Alan White – ever present drummer since 1972 – had had to have back surgery and would be absent from (at least) the first few weeks of the tour. Thankfully Jay Schellen has stepped up to fill the drum-stool at short notice. Jay is known to most YES fans through his work with Circa and Asia, and it has to be said, he’s doing a great job.
In bright sunshine, the band kicked off with the ‘Drama’ album – released in 1980, it was at the time a difficult moment in YES’ history as founder member Jon Anderson and keyboard wizard Rick Wakeman were replaced by successful chart toppers Trevor Horn and Geoff Downes – aka The Buggles. 36 years later, ‘Drama’ is widely regarded as a gem in the YES back catalogue.
Album opener ‘Machine Messiah ‘ is about as heavy as YES gets, and from early on it was clear that this was a relaxed band that appeared just to be happy to play. As an album, ‘Drama’ has a nice flow to it with ‘Does It Really Happen’ and ‘Into The Lens’ being neatly bookended by standout tracks ‘Machine Messiah’ and ‘Tempus Fugit’.
Having rejoined YES in 2011, I’m sure Geoff enjoyed playing the material he wrote (mostly) for the first time. Jay provided the energy the material required, and before you knew it we were back in familiar live territory with ‘I’ve Seen All Good People’ and ‘Siberian Khatru’ where Steve Howe rightly came to the fore. Set 2 started with the welcome return to the live set of the sublime ‘And You And I’, which as ever received a particularly strong reaction from the appreciative and large crowd.
I’m not sure what the more casual fan made of the ‘Tales’ tracks. 2 twenty minute pieces, with ‘Leaves Of Green’ (an acoustic duet from Steve Howe and Jon Davison from the third side – ‘The Ancient’) sandwiched in between. It’s heaven of course to the deep YES fan, culminating in Jon, Billy and Jay all pounding out rhythms towards the end of ‘Ritual’. In ‘Ritual’ especially Billy once again showed how comfortable he is filling Chris Squire’s shoes.
Jon Davison takes whatever YES throws at him in his stride, even if he did need an iPad to guide him through some of the lengthier, wordier passages of ‘The Revealing Science Of God’. Jon’s voice always seems spot on, effortlessly rising to the challenge – I’d love to hear him tackle ‘Relayer’ in full, surely the only YES challenge remaining to him?
After a rousing double encore of ‘Roundabout’ and ‘Starship Trooper’ the enthusiastic crowd left happy, knowing that once again YES had undoubtedly delivered.
Jon Davison – vocals
Geoff Downes – keyboards
Steve Howe – guitar
Jay Schellen – drums
Billy Sherwood – bass
Set 1 (7:00pm – 8:00pm)
Intro – Benjamin Britten The Young Person’s Guide To The Orchestra
Does It Really Happen?
Into the Lens
Run Through the Light
I’ve Seen All Good People
Set 2 (8:20pm – 9:50pm)
And You And I
The Revealing Science of God
Leaves of Green
Ritual (Nous Sommes du Soleil)