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Story and photos by Andy ArgyrakisThe idea of line-up changes within the Yes camp are nothing new, nor is a tour without its original front man Jon Anderson. In the current case of the progressive rock luminaries, the line-up features the core nucleus of guitarist Steve Howe, bassist Chris Squire and drummer Alan White, plus new keyboard player Oliver Wakeman (son of former member Rick) and front man Benoit David (plucked off the web from a Yes tribute act).
Though the personnel shift scaled the band down to clubs as opposed to the usual arenas, it gave faithful a rare glimpse to see the players up close and personal, alongside a chance to size up the new members in a small space. Granted, the same fivesome hit the Chicago Theatre in late 2008, but this time through, everyone appeared to have gelled all the more and the set list was shuffled up to inspire repeat customers.
The current incarnation performed a fair mixture of commercially viable and critically acclaimed tunes, plus a handful of chestnuts rarely dusted off. On a more familiar note, "I've Seen All Good People" and "Roundabout" were runaway highlights, with David sounding just like Anderson for those who closed their eyes. His backers were much more impressive though, building upon each tune with additional instrumental flourishes to avoid redundancy from the record. Unfortunately, the same couldn't be said about "Owner of the Lonely Heart," which remained plagued by its dated keys and cheesy effects, though at least this appeased the radio faction of its fan base considering it's the band's most famous cut.
To most however Yes is an album act and the troupe obliged with the obscure "Machine Messiah" from Drama, a resoundingly approved choice considering Anderson would never sing those songs live since he wasn't their originator. Other old school nuggets included "Yours Is No Disgrace," "And You and I" and "Heart of the Sunrise," all of which defined the prog rock movement and continue to be a grand example of that complex playing style. Yet a grand finale jam of "Starship Trooper" truly brought that epic appeal to the forefront, assuring longtime listeners the retooled Yes hasn't lost its touch and is still sounding solid after over forty years in business.
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