Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

There's No Doubt: Yes Still Has It

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

There's No Doubt: Yes Still Has It

Article excerpt

A tweet popped up on my phone during the Yes concert Sunday night asking, "Is that like waterboarding?"

To the music fan who doesn't favor siren vocals, abstract spirituality, 20-minute prog jams and guitar fetishism, it certainly could have been.

To the faithful assembled at Carnegie Library Music Hall in Munhall, the stage was like a shrine for the veteran British rock band here to perform three of its most accomplished albums in their entirety.

There were a few key questions going in, starting perhaps with the person holding the microphone, who was not Jon Anderson. This was Jon Davison, the Yes singer's second recent replacement, and you could feel the suspense build during the long instrumental opening to "Close to the Edge," the opening track to that 1972 album.

Before he opened his mouth, the singer from Glass Hammer was already likable. He looked like a castoff from Phish, with his long hair parted to the side, yellow hippie shirt and red pants. Most of all, his body language suggested how worshipful he was of the music. When he finally sang, we who hadn't seen this version of Yes were enlightened that there is in fact a third person on Earth who can sing just like Jon Anderson -- who, apparently, doesn't sing quite like the Jon Anderson of old.

Not only did Mr. Davison reach those heavenly highs, he did it robustly for 21/2 hours, making the case for youth over authenticity.

The other question, perhaps a silly one, was whether Yes could reproduce these challenging studio pieces, with deep album tracks, live. The answer to that is that the longtime core of Yes -- Steve Howe, Chris Squire and Alan White, with keyboardist Geoff Downes -- is virtuosic enough to do anything and smart enough to know if it couldn't.

Mr. Howe, who looks like the most severe professor you ever had, is quite simply one of the greatest and most underrated guitarists on the planet. Yes fans and Guitar World subscribers have known this forever. Anyone who walked into the Carnegie would have been schooled to this fact. (If you think Eddie Van Halen could touch him, you're crazy.)

Just about any magic that someone could do on guitar he did over the course of the three albums. …

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