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Progressive Rock Concert Reviews


Live in Chicago, November 21, 2002

Review by Steve Alspach

Only four months after previously playing in Chicago, Yes returned and put on an superb show that showcased some of the highlights of the band's 33-year career. With Rick Wakeman back into the fold, the band showed that it still hasn't lost any of its chops.

The concert started in the usual way: Stravinsky's finale to "The Firebird Suite" followed by "Siberian Khatru." The band also played the title track off of the "Magnification" album as well as "In the Presence Of." Wakeman's keyboard work substituted quite well for the orchestration on that studio album. Perhaps the highlight of the concert was the band performing a slightly altered "We Have Heaven" followed by "South Side of the Sky." The latter had not been performed by Yes in years under the notion that the song did not translate well live, but the band will have to reassess their ideas regarding that track. Steve Howe and Wakeman traded smoking solos at the end of the piece that brought the crowd to its feet.

Gary Hill
Gary Hill
Gary Hill
A choir of 7th through 9th graders from Lincolnwood, Illinois joined the band for the opening number to the second set, "Nine Voices" from the Ladder CD. (Kudos to the kids for sounding so good, hanging around after the show for autographs and serenading the grownups, and then going to school the next day.) The encore was "Starship Trooper" with Wakeman and Howe again playing solos. Wakeman finished the song by playing the keyboards behind his back. And a bit of a surprise: no "Roundabout"!

Gary Hill
Gary Hill
And what of the individual members of the band? Jon Anderson was in good vocal form while playing occasional percussion or amplified acoustic guitar. Chris Squire showed that he still has the rock chops during a performance of "The Fish" that included snippets of "On the Silent Wings of Freedom" and "Tempus Fugit" while handling harmony vocals with no problem. Steve Howe played "The Clap" during his solo performance. He may have sounded a bit off-kilter during "Awaken," but he was reported to be suffering from the flu that day anyway, so in all it was a gutsy performance. Rick Wakeman has lost little speed in his riffs and handled the keyboard duties with little effort, except when going from one keyboard to another. (Note to the roadies: place the keyboards closer together next time!) Alan White was nothing but solid throughout the entire night, whether laying down a basic beat or cranking it up, as he did during Squire's solo.

Gary Hill
Gary Hill
Yes know how to give an audience what it wants, sticking to the classics (such as "Heart of the Sunrise" and "Close to the Edge"), but working some of the newer songs into the fold. "In the Presence Of" turned into a tour de force that may have the best chance of the songs from "Magnification" to stay in the band's live repertoire for repeated playings. The performance on this night was one of the best in quite some time and proved that these godfathers of progressive rock can still click. If the band wants to return in another four months, that's fine with me.

Pics from this show are available in our members area.

Gary Hill
Gary Hill
This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2002 Year Book Volume 3 at
You'll find concert pics of this artist in the Music Street Journal members area.
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