Yes @ Birmingham Symphony Hall – Sunday 4th May, 2014


Review and photos by Rich Ward

Nostalgia sells, and it’s long been common ploy for heritage acts to tour by celebrating the anniversary of one of their albums from their heyday. It’s a guaranteed way of putting bums on seats. For Yes, however, they’ve taken it a step further; their current tour sees them playing  three of their biggest albums in full.

It’s a feat not to be sniffed at, and the prospect of the band playing Close To The Edge, Going For The One & The Yes Album in their entirety has had prog rock lovers salivating at the thought and many of the dates on this tour sold out months ago.


Featuring Yes stalwarts Steve Howe, Alan White and the ever present Chris Squire, the current line up are complemented by Geoff Downes on keyboards and filling the Jon Anderson role is new boy Jon Davison. To many hardened fans, the absence of Anderson is an issue. However, from the first few lines of ‘Close To The Edge’ it is apparent that Davison is an inspired choice. Vocally he fits very well in matching both the style and high notes of Anderson. Visually, he is also a real presence and is equally as captivating on stage as Howe and Squire. The quality of the band individually and as a whole is not in question and the sound is impeccably clear.

The music does the talking tonight, each song receiving rapturous applause and it’s not until the end of ‘Siberian Khatru’ that Squire addresses the crowd, with a brief welcome and introduction from Howe for the start of the run through of Going For The One. Again, a very slick performance from start to finish, and one of their most accessible pieces of work. The acoustic guitar and vocal intro to ‘Turn Of The Century’ gave balance to the rest of the album and the clarity of sound in the venue made for a very engaging performance. One of Yes’s most familiar songs, ‘Wondrous Stories’, also proves to be one of my personal highlights of the evening.


Given the age of many of the audience, the comfort break after ‘Awaken’ saw the rush for the toilets matched with the rush for the bar. 20 minutes later the band returned to power through The Yes Album. With many fan favourites; ‘Yours Is No Disgrace’, the acoustic ‘Clap’ and ‘Starship Trooper’, it’s the obvious of the three albums to finish on. The crowd blinders turned on during ‘Starship Trooper’ seem so bright you can almost watch Chris Squire’s bass spot through your eyelids!  Each song gained more applause until the thoroughly deserving, and surprisingly long,  standing ovation at the end of ‘Perpetual Change’.

It’s been a triumphant evening, and the encore of ‘Roundabout’ is an unexpected and welcome bonus to close a celebratory two and a half hour set.

See more of Rich’s photos here