Yes delivers a fresh
and powerful show
No caffeinated beverages, pillows or Dramamine were needed last night as Yes -- Chris Squire, Rick Wakeman, Steve Howe, Jon Anderson and Alan White -- teamed up with Matt Catingub and the Honolulu Symphony for an expansive high-energy performance in the Blaisdell Arena.
It's been over 15 years since Yes last played Honolulu. The group, bassist Squire in particular, appeared delighted to be back. Wakeman was beaming from behind his several stacks of keyboards. Squire repeatedly broke into impromptu dance steps during the first few songs, and cut a particularly impressive figure in his stark black duster and matching trousers.
"It's been 35 years and we're still playing -- and we still have an audience! Thank you," Anderson said when the night was still young. The crowd -- almost all of it seated downstairs -- applauded enthusiastically and danced in place when he indicated he wanted them to rise.
There was a definite sense of deja vu in seeing Yes in concert -- Wakeman's hair, falling well past his shoulders, was a particularly classic element in these days of short and spiky locks -- but the group wasn't back in Honolulu to entertain as an oldies act.
Anderson introduced several relatively new songs from the Yes songbook, including the title song from their 2001 album, "Magnification." He explained that it shares the message that when we magnify the good within us we magnify the good around us -- an encouraging thought in these days and times.
Anderson also contributed to the band's instrumental attack, playing percussion and guitar. Howe added a fascinating touch of high-powered steel guitar to the mix as well.
Wakeman's work on keyboards provided most of the instrumental bridges as the group moved through its glorious expansive arrangements -- multi-part vocal arrangements -- primarily Squire harmonizing with Anderson -- became another musical element in the performance.
Anderson was in great form as the group's lead vocalist and master of ceremonies.
The one problem was that the symphony was submerged amid the sheer volume and electronic power of the quintet. Catingub could be seen in the background conducting the musicians, but with Wakeman conjuring up everything from a pipe organ to computer noises, and White laying down a second wall of sound on the drums, the symphony could occasionally be seen but very rarely heard.
Yes could have played solo and still delivered a tremendous high-impact concert.