Wonderous Tilburg 2014 (Virtuoso 177/178)
Poppodium 013, Tilburg, Netherlands – May 22, 2014
Disc 1 (70:30) Firebird Suite, Close To The Edge, And You And I, Siberian Khatru, Introduction By Chris Squire And Steve Howe, Going For The One, Turn Of The Century, Parallels, Wonderous Stories
Disc 2 (79:09) Awaken, Introduction By Chris Squire, Yours Is No Disgrace, Clap, Starship Trooper, I’ve Seen All Good People, A Venture, Perpetual Change, Band Introductions, Roundabout
In early 2013 YES embarked on what was dubbed their “Three Album Tour” as the set list was comprised of the The YES Album, Close To The Edge, and Going for The One played in their entirety. The jaunt consisted of two lengthy American tours, a trip to Brazil and Canada and was rounded off by a European trek in early 2014, from which this recoding was taken. According to the Forgotten Yesterdays site there are three recordings of this concert, the one used for this release is an excellent audience source, clear and well balanced and nicely detailed, the only issue it has is there are quiet conversations throughout the performance, none of them greatly interfere but at times is annoying.
The classic Firebird Suite is the opening music and the band takes the stage with the equally classic Close To The Edge with the sounds of birds chirping and running water. The sound engineer gently adjusts the mix and a couple minutes in the mix is perfect, all instruments shinning in clearly. Jon Davison sounds comfortable in role two years in, while his vocal delivery is very reminiscent of Jon Anderson’s he certainly brings his own creative individuality to the YES collective, his youthful and creative spirit seems to have invigorated the group as they have just recently released a new studio record, Heaven & Earth. While the tempo of these songs are a little slower than in the bands 70’s heyday, it more than makes up for it with every little nuance of the original music plus other subtle parts are thrown in. The band has lost none of its vocal interplay and Howe and Squire work well in tandem with Davison, all this makes for a wonderful version of the I Get Up I Get Down movement, one that is capped with Geoffrey Downes really nailing the heavy organ then throws in some wonderful synthesizer parts.
A wonderful And You And I follows, Steve Howe’s playing of the pedal steel is great, he throws in a few notes here and there that sound very country, not surprising given his vast knowledge of the instrument and other genres of music. Sadly a few of the quiet spots of the piece have some disturbance thanks to the ever present chatter. Siberian Khatru seems to drown out the chatter and features the band firing on all cylinders, Steve Howe plays a great extended solo to cap off the song, one that garners a huge round of applause. Chris Squire addresses the audience by telling them that they have just heard Close To The Edge in sequence for the first time in Tilburg (this is the bands first concert in the city) and hands the introduction to Steve who gives a shout of “Lets Rock and Roll !” that leads the band into Going For The One. Again Steve gets into some Chet Atkins styled playing that he intertwines throughout the song in fine fashion.
The band play a perfect Turn Of The Century, thankfully the audience is quiet and respectful giving us a chance to enjoy the band’s performance, Davison really nails the vocal beautifully. Parallels sounds quite majestic, Geoffrey Downes plays a wonderful “Church” organ but it was Awaken that I was most interested in hearing more specifically his interpretation of a song that originated with Moraz and perfected by Wakeman. First thing that grabs you is the intricate playing of Steve Howe, he still has extreme dexterity in his fingers and it is his playing that lifts the piece to great heights. In the quiet middle section Downes shines as he plays a wonderfully textured and layered interlude that is perfectly highlighted by chimes until finally Squire and Howe enter back in, the band more than do justice to the song.
Chris talks of being hold up in a farmhouse in Devon, England rehearsing material for their third album “This is the result” and the band plow into Yours Is No Disgrace, much to the delight of the audience. Steve plays The Clap and again, his work on the fretboard is perfect and he seems to be more at home on an acoustic guitar than electric. Starship Trooper gets a huge ovation and, they clap and sing along in certain parts, something that adds to the joyous performance. Gone are the days of the excessive Wurm battles, what is left is just as effective, the band pushing themselves and each other to a wonderful climax. One only has to listen to All Good People to know that Jon Davison is the real deal, the song is so closely associated with Jon Anderson, yet Davison brings such joy to his interpretation and seems to channel Anderson making for a great version of the classic song.
A Venture features Geoff Downes playing a great, jazzy solo and gets a nice ovation for his efforts, that is what makes this idea of playing full albums interesting, you can finally hear these deep cuts in the live setting. Of course the final song of the main set is Perpetual Change, nice to hear a full version of this song again, once a major part of the band’s live set is easy to hear why. Not only is it great musically but it is the vocal harmonizing and interplay between the vocalists, and at times audience, combining to elevate the song to its lofty heights. After a short break, the band is individually introduced and performs the final song of the night, Roundabout, the response is one of rapture from the audience, they sing along and clap to the music in celebration. A very well played and highly enjoyable performance by the band, one that deserves repeated listening’s, and it sounds great at loud volumes.
The packaging is typical Virtuoso, full color inserts wonderfully adorned with a montage of live pictures of the band coupled with YES style graphics, the CDs have pictures on them as well and all this is housed in a slimline jewel case. With most progressive releases being on CD-R it is nice to see that the folks at Virtuoso have elected to give collectors something on silver disc, it also confirms the fact that YES circa 2014 are alive and well.