Review + Photos by L Paul Mann
August 29, 2018 | Los Angeles, CA – On a beautiful end of the summer evening, August 29th classic rock music fans gathered en masse to hear members of the veteran rock band Yes perform at the Greek Theater in Los Angeles. Fans arrived early to lounge in the afternoon sun at the bars and restaurants inside the Amphitheater complex. The show was billed as Quintessential YES: The 50th Anniversary Tour. Yes has gone through enormous personnel changes in its long and storied history. Earlier this year, a different group featuring 70’s member’s guitarist Steve Howe and drummer Alan White toured with another version of the band to mixed reviews. This version of Yes at the Greek theater show featured original singer Jon Anderson, 70s master keyboardist Rick Wakeman, and 80’s guitarist-singer Trevor Rabin.
The 13 song set began about 7.45 and lasted about two hours and fifteen minutes into the clear evening air. The set drew material from all the most important periods of the bands 50 years of music. The songs included obscure cuts like “Rhythm of Love’ (from 1987’s Big Generator) and “Lift Me Up” (from 1991’s Union) to classics 70’s tracks like “I’ve Seen All Good People,” “Perpetual Change” and “Heart of the Sunrise.” The band also played “Awaken,” from 1977s Going for the One album and a cover of Cream’s Sunshine of Your Love.
The 73-year-old singer Jon Anderson is the only member of Yes still touring that can trace his roots back to the beginning of the band. The Englishman who now calls Santa Barbara, California home has maintained an uncanny ability to continue to hit the high notes so characteristic of the Yes sound. The personable singer endeared himself to the crowd throughout the set, telling numerous anecdotes about the band’s history. Trevor Rabin brought a new more rock-oriented sound to the classical-tinged band in the 80’s and is credited with the band’s resurgence in that decade. The Grammy-winning group has accumulated a dozen gold and platinum albums over their long run. Although Rick Wakeman is not the original keyboardist of Yes, his stint in the band beginning in the 70’s is probably the most successful in the group’s career. The masterful keyboardist appearing in his trademark sequence cape maintained his astounding musical abilities playing multiple keyboards and synthesizers sometimes simultaneously.
The only downside to the fascinating Greek theater show was the rhythm section. Sessions drummer Lou Molio III and bassist Lee Pomeroy did a respectable job, but by accident or by design their contributions were turned down and lost in the mix overshadowed by the three frontmen. Certainly, they have tough shoes to fill, a bit like replacing Keith Moon and John Entwistle of The Who. Drummer Bill Bruford and later Alan White were thundering masters of the classic rock genre. But the saddest missing link is the loss of Chris Squire, who passed away 3 years ago. The founding bassist of Yes was not only a spectacular bass player, but a brilliant vocalist as well, who helped record some of the groups most magnificent harmonies.
But the show was still an awesome presentation of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame band, ending with an encore of the classic Yes song Roundabout sending the crowd into a dancing ovation.
Cinema (Yes cover)
Hold On (Yes cover)
I’ve Seen All Good People (Yes cover)
Changes (Yes cover)
And You and I (Yes cover)
Rhythm of Love (Yes cover)
Perpetual Change (Yes cover)
Lift Me Up (Yes cover)
I Am Waiting (Yes cover)
Heart of the Sunrise (Yes cover)
Awaken (Yes cover)
Owner of a Lonely Heart (Yes cover with Cream’s ‘Sunshine of Your Love’ snippet)
Roundabout (Yes cover)
Life on Mars? (David Bowie song) (Rick Wakeman piano solo)
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