YES - 26th February 1998
Manchester Apollo (UK)

By Jem Jedrzejewski


I have a confession to make; this was my very first YES gig.

Way back in the days of black and white (television), 1972 to be precise, I discovered the album Close To The Edge and almost instantly fell in love with it. Further investigation found the YES Album and Fragile. After that, a friend bought Relayer which I hated at first, but his insistence of playing it constantly finally got to me - I found myself humming bits from The Gates of Delirium at all times of the day without consciously realising what I was doing!
After 1975, I sort of abandoned YES. Tales From Topographic Oceans bored me rigid. Besides, YES's cold, clinical but technically excellent style clashed with what was to become my more favoured Camel, Gryphon and Caravan.

So why in 1998, some twenty-odd years later, did I decide to pay a king's ransom of 27.50 (83DM) to see a band which with all their internal squabbles and bickerings have produced, what I consider to be, mainstream rock/pop in their latter years? Well, a friend had already got tickets and I decided that YES was one of the few 'supergroups' (from the great prog seventies) I had yet to see.

My expectations, I admit, were low. They have recently brought out a new studio album, Open Your Eyes, of which only the first four tracks are, in my opinion, of any worth. If I am honest, I do like the first track. But that's about it. Anyway... Manchester Apollo is a great (all seater) theatre to see gigs, catering for between 2,000 and 3,000 people, at a guess. It is very similar to Hammersmith Odeon in London and Birmingham Odeon (in Birmingham, not surprisingly!) amongst others in the UK, although it is one of the few that still operates as a rock venue. The place was packed!! YES came onto the stage at 8.15pm to a tumultuous applause from the audience and I could feel the adrenaline pumping. Jon Anderson may have put on weight but is instantly recognisable; Steve Howe looks rather gaunt and mildly ridiculous with longish hair either side of a, basically, bald head; Chris Squire is twice the size he used to be, wearing trousers six inches too short, revealing white (yes, white) socks; Alan White resembles a refugee from Richie Blackmore's Rainbow; Rick Wakeman's replacement, Igor Khoroshev provides a 90's look to the ageing band; Billy Sherwood looks as though he is in the wrong band! till, looks are not what it's about.

I was catapulted back to the halcyon days of the early seventies; Siberian Khatru, And You And I, Roundabout, Long Distance Runaround and Mood For A Day were performed with remarkable enthusiasm, remarkable because they have a new album out and because, you would imagine, they must be tired of playing the old stuff, time and time again. However, they read the audience well; most, if not all, of us wanted to hear the classic YES. I certainly did. There was a man sitting in the row in front of me, who must have been in his late fifties, waving his arms as if conducting the band whilst singing along with Jon Anderson. These were indeed magic moments to treasure. After playing And You And I, a voice in the crowd humorously shouted "play the other one I know!". During the almost three hour set they also performed a couple of tracks off the new album (two of the better tracks I must add) as well as Owner Of A Lonely Heart amongst other old but more recent pieces. The low point was a rendition from Tales Of Topographic Oceans which did not go down terribly well.

The light show made full use of computerised spots, nothing over elaborate but just right. In addition, the stage was encased in a white cloth (like the inside of a huge marquee/tent) on which graphics were projected.

The programme (overpriced at 6 [18Dm]) was top-heavy with photographs and very little text; as the average age of the audience must have been mid-forties, you'd have thought that they would appreciate that most of us could read!!

To summarise; a tremendous gig, excellent sound quality, great music which altogether exceeded my expectations by a mile. Would I see them again? You betcha!

Jem Jedrzejewski

This review was printed in the German Prog Magazine Yester's News and used with kind permission.

 

 

 

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