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Howe, Squire and White of Yes

Friday • Taft Theater

By Brian Baker · November 26th, 2008 · Sound Advice
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Tags: Taft Theater, Yes

The truth can finally be told: I nodded off at a 1975 Yes concert in Detroit. In my defense, I had unloaded and loaded four truckloads of furniture that afternoon. And Yes was touring Tales of Soporific Cheese-Whiz or whatever they called that year’s song-per-side double album monument to drying paint. Plus I had ingested two waxy discs sold to me as tabletized tetrahydrocannabinol. Turned out to be monkey tranquilizers. Such was the roulette wheel of alternative medicine in the ’70s, which now informs my current stance to young people everywhere: Do not take monkey tranqs. Ever.

And yet my inadvertent chimp nap carried the unintended blessing of unconsciousness during the interminable first half of the Yes show, which revived me for the big finish which was, in fact, a triumph of Pop melodicism and Prog bombast, something Yes had mastered from their 1968 start.

They had to suppress their tendencies toward Tolkein-esque story detailing and classically channeled suite composition (peaking in the mid-’70s), but Yes reinvented themselves as a more traditional Pop band in the ’80s with guitarist Trevor Rabin and their No. 1 single, “Owner of a Lonely Heart.”

The band certainly had its share of personnel shifts and squabbles — remember Anderson Bruford Wakeman and Howe, the execrable Prog/Pop law firm? The members eventually got on with the importance of being Yes, just in time for Jon Anderson’s asthma to derail a proposed tour earlier this year.

Now, with bassist Chris Squire, guitarist Steve Howe, drummer Alan White, keyboardist Oliver Wakeman (son of original keyboardist Rick Wakeman) and Canadian vocalist Benoit David (frontman for the Yes tribute band Close to the Edge) — and with Anderson’s begrudging “blessings” — Yes is on the road for their “In the Present Tour.”

My advice? Let sleeping monkeys lie and enjoy the whole show.

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