Yes performing their Close To The Edge tour at The Royal Concert Hall Nottingham on Saturday 18th June 2022

Images and Review by Kevin Cooper

As part of a nine date UK tour, the current incarnation of progressive rock group Yes came to the Royal Concert Hall on Saturday night to showcase their 1972 album Close To The Edge and whilst they delivered a good show, it was unfortunately a little strange at times.

The evening began with a few words from legendary album cover artist, Roger Dean, who has worked with Yes for over fifty years. What followed then was a respectful video tribute to the recently passed and much loved drummer, Alan White, sound tracked by the beautiful Turn Of The Century.

Then The Firebird Suite gave the signal for the band to take up their places. With nineteen full time members having previously been in the band, the current line up to grace the stage on Saturday night doesn’t have Jon Anderson. Taking his place is Jon Davison who has been with the band since 2012 and although he has carved out and made the role his own, there was unfortunately something missing.

This latest line up is very much orchestrated, led and driven by Steve Howe, who has been in the band on and off virtually from the beginning. When bass player Chris Squire, who’s pounding bass lines characterised much of their early sound, passed away in 2015, his place was permanently taken by American multi-instrumentalist Billy Sherwood.

Drummer Alan White had been with Yes since 2010, but sadly he passed away shortly before this tour started and whose place was quickly taken by Jay Schellan, a fitting deputy. Finishing the line up is Geoff Downes who plays the keys these days.

The band kicked off with a truncated and reworked version of On The Silent Ways Of Freedom, a song rarely heard live, but it is a shame that it missed the instrumental opening of the studio version. They followed up with Yours Is No Disgrace which was the first of several longer pieces performed, before they moved on to No Opportunity Necessary, No Experience Needed from the Time And A Word album, which was disappointing given that there appeared to be some prominent, presumably recorded keyboard parts.

There was another rarity, an impressive and rousing version of Does It Really Happen. The aging crowd were then treated to Howe’s solo guitar piece on Clap, which he delivered to much acclaim and rapturous response. The Ice Bridge and Dare You Know were very well received before the first half was brought to a close with Heart Of The Sunrise which brought another lengthy workout for the band, but which seemed to have been treated to a little bit of a trim and really tested Davison’s vocals.

After a short break, the band was back on the stage for the main event of the evening, the legendary album, Close to The Edge, performed in its entirety. The three songs, Close To The Edge, And You And I and Siberian Khatru are possibly the very essence of Yes and on Saturday night they were certainly different to that which was around in 1972.

For the encore it could only be Roundabout and Starship Trooper, both of which really rocked. But undoubtedly there had been a little rustiness amongst these talented musicians, probably from a prolonged period of gig abstinence. They have to get gig fit again which is not always easy when the music and time signatures are as complex and challenging as much of the 70’s progressive rock that Yes music sets the template for. But for the over 60s in the crowd this line up could do no wrong, and they will certainly be back to do it all over again to celebrate another iconic album.