Like It is (2CD/DVD)

SKU: FRCDVD672
Label:
Frontiers Records
Category:
Progressive Rock
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"YES - the combined age of the five guys on stage at the Hippodrome was more than 300 years - and some unkind souls would say that feels almost as long as some of their more indulgent numbers.

But everybody knew why they were here. We all knew well in advance what Yes were going to play even down to the encore, and the scene was set with the entrance music of Stravinsky’s Firebird theme - just like Yes used 40 years ago. But although there were no surprises in what they played, there were plenty in how they played.

Aggression isn’t probably a word that springs to mind when it comes to Yes, but there’s plenty present - along with the shifting rhythms, hardcore virtuoso musicianship, sheer power and soaring over it all the high clear harmonies and sweeping melodies that make Yes Yes

Original singer Jon Anderson is not currently with the band - but his replacement, 43-year-old American Jon Davison, is a more than adequate stand-in, sounding uncannily like Anderson at times but adding his own touches to the songs and a friendly vitality to the band onstage. The other long-standing Yesman not present is grumpy old Rick Wakeman. This time on an array of keyboards we have Geoff Downes, who has been playing with Yes on and off for 30-plus years but whom many may know best and possibly not too fondly for Buggles and Video Killed the Radio Star.

The rest of the band - guitarist Steve Howe, bassist Chris Squire and drummer Alan White - are as Yes was 40 years ago - and although age may have had its impact on their hairlines or girth or ability to bop around the stage, it has totally failed to diminish their musical skills.

Howe can still play lightning fast and pure, delivering faithfully favourite old solos but also bringing new embellishments and invention. And Squire showed just how important a part his melodic driving basslines have always been to the distinctive Yes sound. And when the band are playing as one they can still deliver moments that can take your breath away.

It’s something of a rarity to have a rock concert at the Hippodrome - perhaps the fact the concert was being filmed meant they wanted a more theatrical setting. It seemed quite apt that there were occasional elements of pantomime - “Hello Bristol!” “Hello Steve!” - and the rather startling appearance of Chris Squire’s triple-necked bass. There was also a large screen showing films largely with New Age/old hippy themes - lots of fractals and turtles - and during Turn Of The Century what looked disturbingly like a cross between Game Of Thrones and a cereal advert. And the explosion of confetti towards the end during Perpetual Change could have seemed tacky - but it worked beautifully with the soaring optimism of the music and had the audience grinning like the children they were long ago.

Highlights were too numerous to mention, but there were a few moist eyes around at the opening of And You And I; Yours Is No Disgrace sounded as good as it ever has; and the transition from the "give peace a chance” section of Your Move to the rocking abandon of All Good People might well have had a younger audience dancing in the aisles. As it was by the time the encore of Roundabout came around everybody was on their feet.

It’s more than 40 years since Yes were first a huge name - able to release a triple-disc live album and have a top 10 hit with it. They and their audience may have aged a lot - but Yes still sound as good as ever when they hit those dizzyingly exuberant moments of wonder. And the audience wasn’t entirely grey-haired and wallowing in nostalgia - my 15-year-old daughter wasn’t the only youngster up and whooping at the end." - The Bristol Post

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