Concert Review Archive

 

Yes & Procol Harum

Sunday, 19th August 2012
The Pearl Theater, Las Vegas, US

Article By Fred Hunter

I had purchased this ticket the day before the show and actually with Ticketmaster’s new mapping/seat picking I was able to choose a fairly decent seat, right in the middle. The theater is actually a very cool looking venue, it is almost like a modern throw back to old theaters architecturally. The sound is decent and everyone has a clear view. I am kind of surprised that more bands don’t play there, I’m sure that will change..I guess this town has SO many venues there must be competition all over for shows.

Anyway, to start things off (right on time at 8pm) were Procol harum. I really only know their stuff in passing but it was immediately apparent that Gary Brooker’s voice had not changed a bit, he reached the notes without any strain and in an almost relaxing manner. The sound from the band was perfectly mixed. The organ sound especially was wonderful and suitably loud in the mix! I was not sure about the sound at first but I did record this gig (yeah, I know ..shh !!) and was stunned how clear it sounded in retrospect. As I said I am not overly familiar with their material, I recognized a few but could not place their names until A salty dog which was just so great to hear. Then Gary Brooker thanked Yes and stated how much he enjoyed the tour with them. After rocking it up a bit then did the obligatory Whiter shade of pale which is always a good song to hear, I remember it so clearly from when I was a kid! They finished with Conquistador and were cheered loudly by the welcoming audience. Great to hear this band and realize how underrated they are. Glad I had the chance to see them.

Now I must state that this venue had the strangest drink selection at the bar, where by wine was poured into the same cups as beer and filled to the top for less than the price of beer… this made choosing wine somewhat of a no brainer, but after two glasses half way through Yes I was fairly out of it. Was still fun though.. maybe I will come back here ..hmm.

Yes came on about 30 minutes after Procol harum finished and were introduced by the Benjamin Britten piece that they have used on and off since the ’78 tour; that led into a fairly slow tempo version of Yours is no disgrace. I have to say, even though I enjoyed it I was a little worried about the songs slowness and thought I might be in a for a disappointing night, I shouldn’t have worried! The new singer; Jon Davison has a good voice and better stage presence than the rather statue like Benoit David. He also appears to have zero issues reaching any of the notes and his voice is arguably stronger than Anderson’s is right now. So even though is not THE Jon, this guy did do a very solid job.

If I had any complaints about the show at all it was about the mixing, Geoff Downes’ keyboards were sometimes a bit low in the mix, it almost seemed like just certain synths were not too loud and when he switched the sound was louder, but it is a minor complaint and it did NOT detract from the show. Alan, Steve and Chris are not young guys anymore and maybe their playing is not as razor precision fast as it was in 1976 but I feel we are lucky to be able to see them, so I am never going to say anything negative about them.

Tempus fugit was up next and even a bit slower was a delight to hear. After Chris introduced the new guy Jon Davison we had the obvious I’ve seen all good people. Then came the first oddity of the night America. I was genuinely surprised to hear it, I had forgotten how elaborate they made it, was the first of a few surprises. Steve then took center stage and played a couple of acoustic bits, one from Bach then went into The Ancient – Leaves of green section. When Davison came out and sang note perfect along to it that was without doubt one of the shows highlights.

Steve then introduced the Fly from here suite. I like this song and was pleased the band took the chance to play the entire suite, I truly thought it worked better live too, the whole piece seemed way more cohesive and since it was the last date of the US tour I think they had really gotten it down and played the more complicated parts very easily. Good stuff!

The next song was another surprise to me, after Geoff Downes did a short keyboard solo he led the band into Wondrous stories which was very cool to hear, it was the first song I ever heard by Yes and I have always loved it, even though I’ve always seen it as a very ‘Jon and Rick’ song I thought the current line up did a tremendous job of catching the spirit of the original, and as stated the new singer really hit those high notes with ease.

Heart of the sunrise was next and was (not shockingly) very ‘bass heavy’. This was one song I distinctly remember Benoit David having issues hitting the notes on but Davison was flawless in his delivery of the “dream on, on to the heart of the sunrise” section that must be hard as hell to sing. I have to say I was fairly please as what we had gotten at that point and was not overly expecting anything else too mind blowingly unusual, boy, was I wrong! As soon as the crowd quieted down Downes ran off the opening piano part of Awaken and I was just stunned! I never expected to hear this song again from them and it was by far the highlight of the night – like it is whenever they played it, yeah?!! Downes did a great job of Wakeman’s keyboard parts and sounds, Davsion hit all the right notes, Steve was just bang on with those solos, Alan held the thing together perfectly and of course Chris and his ludicrous triple neck bass was just unreal!! Davison played the harp parts on a synth during the middle section and to be honest they truly did the song justice. A perfect way to end the show, such a beautiful song.

The band came back for the encore, thanked Procol harum and then played a rousing version of Roundabout, complete with Downes doing the organ solo on his ‘keytar’ thingy.. all good rock ‘n roll star stuff!

All in all: a solid show. I think I reviewed the first show of the Yes/Asia tour back in 2009 in Southern California and I have to say this was a stronger show. Better song choices and tighter playing. I left the Palms a happy guy last night!

Links

Yes Official Website
Yes Myspace

DPRP's Review of "Fly From Here"

The Pearl Theater

 


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