Progressive Rock pioneers Yes bring their landmark 50th Anniversary Tour to the PNC Pavillion in Cincinnati for 2 1/2 hours of well-loved music.
From its inception over 50 years ago, Yes has been at the forefront of what became known as progressive rock. While certainly not the only prog-rock band, Yes is certainly among the first to spring to mind when the genre is mentioned, and for good reason. Founded in 1968 by Jon Anderson, Chris Squire, Peter Banks, Bill Bruford and Tony Kaye, the band has seen nearly 20 different full-time members come and go over the years which likely plays a part in their ground-breaking sound and broad musical style. Over the last 50 years, Yes has won Grammys and sold tens of millions of records before (finally) being inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2017.
In Cincinnati, after thunderous storms and torrential rain, the PNC Pavillion felt like a giant sauna. The air was thick with moisture and the heat was oppressive. This is what greeted Yes as they took the stage but both the band and the legion of faithful fans were undaunted. Launching their 2 1/2 hour set, in true Yes fashion, was “Close to the Edge” which very well may encapsulate everything that makes this band true pioneers of progressive rock. Masterful instrumentation, symphonic elements that fill the venue with dramatic, theatrical melodies accompanied by stunning visuals on the screens around them, Yes takes their audience on a journey through the past 50 years that leaves no one doubting the legacy this band has created. This epic number is followed by “Nine Voices (Longwalker)” featuring singer Jon Davidson’s stunning vocals and the intimate acoustic guitar of Steve Howe. “Parallels” is dedicated to the memory of founder Chris Squire who passed away in 2015. Song after song receives a standing ovation from diehard fans as the band rolls toward the conclusion of their first segment and intermission.
It isn’t often that fans get an intermission at a rock show, but people take advantage to hydrate and stretch their legs before the second segment begins with 1973’s “Perpetual Change” followed by the upbeat and energetic “Does it Really Happen?” which provides the perfect showcase for the rhythm section that is longtime drummer Alan White and Billy Sherwood on bass. Finishing off the second part of the performance is “Awaken” and the crowd is on their feet wanting more.
The frequently used phrase “and the crowd goes wild” fits the situation perfectly when the band returns to the stage for their encore and founding member Tony Kaye steps up to the keyboard at center stage for “Yours is No Disgrace”, and fan favorite “Roundabout”. Tony Kaye is all smiles and quickly sheds the jacket he is wearing after the first song. Having Kaye join the band for even two songs is a treat for diehard fans being that he hadn’t performed with Yes since 1994 prior to joining the band on a cruise in February of this year. List his appearance as a definite highlight of the night’s performance, which despite being 2 1/2 hours long, seemed to end too soon for most in attendance.