Florida Theatre, Jacksonville, FL 2/15/17-Some 49 years after forming in London, progressive rock pioneers Yes took to the stage at the Florida Theatre to show that they’ve still got what it takes to bring down the house.
Dubbed “The Album Series Tour”, the band performed two of their albums, 1980’s “Drama” and 1973’s “Tales From Topographic Oceans”, in their entirety.
The band stepped into the spotlights and quickly tore into “Machine Messiah”, proving to all that they weren’t about to miss a beat. Steve Howe’s opening guitar riff signaled the start of a trip down the proverbial rabbit hole as the rest of the band, including Alan White on drums, brought the stage to life. After the opening number, White allowed longtime sideman Jay Schellen to take over percussionist duties, as White continues to recover from some health challenges.
Geoff Downes, whose success with The Buggles (“Video Killed The Radio Star”) handled keyboard duties with masterful aplomb, returning to his roots with Yes by performing Drama, which was his first recording with the band. While surrounded by a plethora of keyboards, his work on the epic pieces from Tales From Topographic Oceans provided the bedrock for the progressive rock sound which is so prevalent on the album.
Billy Sherwood, who’s worked with acts as diverse as Steve Stevens to William Shatner, has returned to the band for the third time (he played on 1991’s “Union” and was a full-time member from 1997 to 2000) and takes on the bassist duties masterfully, as evidenced in the massively syncopated “Does It Really Happen?”
While some might say that Yes cannot be Yes without singer Jon Anderson, U.S. born Jon Davison quickly silences any critics with his performance on “Tempus Fugit” off of Drama. It was Davison who first interacted with the audience, welcoming them to the Florida Theatre after the band had finished performing Drama and providing the lead-in to “The Revealing Science Of God” from Topographic Oceans.
Make no mistake, though, guitarist Steve Howe is the undeniable patriarch of Yes. Armed with his trusty Gibson ES-175, Howe mesmerized the audience with his ridiculously fluid playing on songs like “Run Through The Light” from Drama and Ritual “(Nous Sommes du Soleil)” from Topographic Oceans. Howe’s joining Yes (he replaced guitarist Peter Banks in 1970) is widely regarded as the point where the band started down the “progressive art rock” path, and he’s largely responsible for creating the band’s sound.
After a set which lasted just over two hours, Yes returned to the stage for a three song encore. The encore started with the iconic “Roundabout” from 1972’s “Fragile” and went right into “Starship Trooper from 1971’s “The Yes Album”. The final piece of the evening was “Heat Of The Moment” by Asia, which is the band Steve Howe and Geoff Downes (who co-wrote the song) co-founded in 1981.
By the time the band took their ceremonial bow, the appreciative crowd was on its feet, letting the band know that, on this night, all was right with the world at the Florida Theatre.
By Steve Parr