Yes live in Birmingham PLUS new Jon Anderson and the Band Geeks music – 631

Produced by Joseph Cottrell, Jeffrey Crecelius and Ken Fuller

I’ve had no time to put together any news this week but I still managed to speak at length to Mark about both my experiences seeing Yes at Birmingham Symphony Hall. It was a wonderful experience and not just because of the quality of the concert itself.

We’ve also enjoyed listening to the new music from Jon Anderson and the Band Geeks that fans have captured from live concerts and posted on YouTube. There are many reasons to be excited in Yesworld at the moment.

  • How was the performance at Birmingham?
  • What is the venue like?
  • How was Roger Dean?

Let us know if you agree with us!

My Brum experience:

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Theme music

The music I use is the last movement of Stravinsky’s Firebird Suite. This has been used as introduction music at many Yes concerts. My theme music is not take from a live concert – I put it together from:

8 replies on “Yes live in Birmingham PLUS new Jon Anderson and the Band Geeks music – 631”

The programme issue is much more of a very challenging situation which can’t be gone into, and the best thing to do was to keep the one produced and sell what was available. Usually they are £50 and so to get all the signatures for another £50, it’s not an easy product to buy with all of that together. Plus there just can’t be a better programme made its just perfection.

Steve did America as his solo which rocked, South Side was good and the duel of guitar and keys worked well.

I thought Topographic worked really well and was the highlight for me. A very varied set in style and historically. Pleased to have helped you out with things Kevin.

They did the I Feel Fine line in Liverpool for the anniversary and a nod to Alan. Keeping it in made Yes fans really happy.

I will be swing Jon Anderson in St Louis next weekend, and am avoiding any set list spoilers! I’m glad that people are going and are really enthusiastic about the show. I’m really looking forward to it, and I’m sure I’ll post some photos and details. New music, you say? I may be one of the few people who doesn’t mind it when a veteran artist says that dreaded line “here’s one of my new songs!”

I was telling my sister about Yes, who she barely knows anything about. She found the stories of rotating members and epic length songs a bit funny. She drums, and has been a part of one of those rock schools that I think the Band Geeks come from, so she was impressed that people could learn a song that goes on that long. As an aside, her classic quote from being part of a music school is “The biggest thing I learned is that I don’t like jazz. Or Led Zeppelin!”

Thank you Kevin for that in-depth and honest review. I enjoyed that.
I wish they would leave All Good People off the set lists going forward.
Their catalog is way to large to keep dragging that out. Indeed they are stuck playing Roundabout forever but All Good People they can let go at this point. When I’m at a show and it starts I’m always thinking what a waste of time, they could have played this or that such as a second offering from Mirror to the Sky. Sadly, YES is not playing a North American tour date near me, however Jon Anderson is on August 2nd, I have four tickets. We are counting the days. Perhaps I will send you a review of that show. For the record I am very much enjoying Official YES and to be honest I wanted to see YES more than Jon & TBG’s. Don’t get me wrong I am delighted to see Jon, any summer with a YES (related) concert is a good summer. Mark brought up two interesting points. I too would rather YES just picked a side of Tales and played it. It does pain me to hear any of Tales chopped up. With that said if I witnessed the medley live as Kevin did I’d probably be up giving it a standing ovation, but internally I’m chafed about it as Mark is. As for ARW not being able to produce any new music, I believe it simply comes down to Rabin and Wakeman had no interest in cracking on after the tour (cracking on was for Kevin). They were happy to do the tour and that was it. Anderson would have enjoyed moving forward but he wasn’t going to get his wish. Jon’s Band Geek collaboration is welcome and the more YES and YES related music the better however we are kind of developing Act II of the old two YES’s (YES West) scenario. It is different this time as the Geeks are not former YESman. However Jon’s & TBG’s new album does elevate the situation back to those somewhat awkward days.

Super show as always Kevin and Mark, thankyou! I was at the Symphony Hall gig – it’s my “ home” Yes venue living in Warwickshire. Really enjoyed it. There was much to like about it . The current line up seem happy and cohesive playing together. The set list was eclectic and diverse. I thought they all played well – Steve showed great chops, Geoff put in one the most assured performances I’ve seen from him and Billy’s bass growled superbly. Jon sang beautifully and Jay was solid. If I have a criticism it was a sense that the band, though playing well together, played with a degree of caution and reserve. I don’t know whether anyone else felt this? Jay seemed understated throughout – maybe consciously- and there was little real “ rocking out”. But overall a very enjoyable gig and great to see the current incarnation of the band carrying the flame.

Didn’t get to Birmingham but was at the London show.

On the one hand I was surprised at the enormous number of empty seats in the balcony and the boxes but I imagine the easy advance availability of the set list had something to do with that. There was a lot here to dissuade the main sequence loyalists from showing up and not a lot of under performed 70s gems to get the floating voter parting with £150 plus fees for a pair of tickets.

If you had shown up in 2014, 2016, 2018 and 2022 what were the incentives to find the money again? Personally I think a Relayer based show would have sold far better but hey ho maybe they simply can’t deliver that music with this line up. Which is another conversation for another day.

Moans and groans first. Starship Trooper, Roundabout, Your Move need to be rested on the one hand and, on the other, a show without Close to the Edge, Awaken, Revealing Science, Ritual or Gates is missing what for me is the main ingredient of any Yes menu and that is the central symphonic epic. That left us with lots interesting tapas and amuse bouche but no main course.

Swap the three over-played “hits” for let say To Be Over (not played in the UK since 2003), Sweet Dreams or Survival and Perpetual Change (not played in the UK since 2014) and you have a much more interesting prospect for the cash-strapped regular.

Are people really not going to come because you are not playing Roundabout and the song out of “Almost Famous”? That might be true in parts of America but not in the UK and especially not in London. Prog fans are nothing if not up for a challenge.

The TFTO medley is no substitute for the lack of a proper Yes epic. As a core idea it is perfectly ok to string the main hooks together but it doesn’t really flow the way a suite drawn from a larger work should do. It was enjoyable enough but to call it under-written in the transition sections would be putting it kindly.

Visually the show looked really cheap. Not sure why they bothered. Playing the whole thing under white light would have been more effective. They are also at an stage where transitioning out of the Spinal Tap wardrobe into something closer to the hip chamber music King Crimson look might be a bit more age appropriate.

Overall, even when I wasn’t that into the song choices, I absolutely loved how the band gelled, it was like we had wandered in on them in the rehearsal room with no technical safety net. If there was anything significant being played to click and / or abetted with pre-recorded material I certainly did not notice.

The live drum sound is much much better than recent years. The snare is now located in a far more pleasing place in the sound picture and I didn’t feel I had spent the show with someone banging bin lids in my ears for two hours. The Yes choir was excellent throughout and Steve was energised and in really good form, pushing his own envelope and taking some chances like he would have done 50 years back.

Jon Davison gets better with each tour but I would love to hear him singing more of his own material.

I have to say didn’t really notice the rhythm section which, given whose shoes they have had to fill and the complexity of the music, is actually an enormous compliment.

So lots to enjoy in the delivery if not in the choice of material. There are a fair number of Yes fans of all vintages who really don’t rate either Drama or Tormato. I am pretty sure a little more of the newer material would have been a more enticing prospect.

Will they be back in 2026? Will I? It was fun and the fact the money was long since spent and accounted for helped but I think I’d probably rather go see DBA, Steve’s jazz trio or a tour with Steve and Jon doing a two-hander. And yet I probably said the exact same thing in 2022 and 2018. Especially have effectively charged me £20 in non refundable ticket fees to not play the London Relayer date.

Like INB I, too was at the London show. I agree with his coment about what were the incentives if you’d seen the last tours (I didn’t bother with the last but saw the three before). However, good reviews in the press persuaded me to fill one of those empty seats.

A longer than expected wait for a change of train meant I arrived to pick up my ticket just after 7.30 and I could hear the band already playing Machine Messiah. Being of a certain age and having had a 90 minute train journey, I needed one more detaour before making it into the auditorium. But, of course, this being Yes, missing several minutes meant I only missed half a song.
So glad I went. I thought the band were tighter and more energised than I’d seen before. I noticed a couple of minor timing issues (in different places to those which Kevin mentioned – a fair indication that this was genuinely live.
Mix was great and I totally agree with Ian about the more snare being a punishment in previous shows, but much better here.
I did wonder if America was the substitute for Steve’s solo piece. Much as I enjoy a solo acoustic, I can quite happily do without Mood or Clap having seen him play those many times.
I still haven’t decided about the condensed Tales. Yes, I’d rather have a complete side (or the comlete album for which I and many had bought tickets a few years back) but we did get some bits we’ve never had since ’73. They were edited together seamlessly but not particularly artistically, I thought.
I know it’s a bit cliché but I have to say the “Leaves of Green”, once we reached the vocal section, was a show highlight for me. Jon’s voice was so pure and controlled it brought tears to my eyes. The Acoustic intro was marred for me by Steve Howe wagging a finger angrily at someone filming and that person totally ignoring him. This seemed to add a little agression to Steve’s playing of the number-or maybe I was imagining things.
One disappointment for me was Turn of the Century. Maybe it was different in Birmimgham, but I was really looking forward to this, one of my favourite Yes pieces, but, whilst plyed well it seemed to lack a bit of passion.
Unlike Ian, I really liked the very simple stage set, although the backdrom could have looked a bit more like a cinema screen than someone hanging a sheet over a washing line!
Geoff seemd more animated and into the music than I’d seen him before. Final shout out for Jay’s drumming. He was working hard but always completely in control.
I think they were all enjoying themselves at the wnd of the tour. Great gig.

Thanks for another great episode Kevin and Mark.

Thanks also Kevin for letting us know where the best seats are from a sound point of view. This was my first visit Symphony Hall and we had seats about 10 rows back in the middle of the stalls. From this position Billy’s bass dominated the mix. Several times Steve indicated for it to be turned down. This was most notable when Billy came back in during Turn of the Century. Re Kevin’s mention of the very heavy droning sounds – I thought this was part of the same issue with the bass pedal turned up to 11.

Something must’ve been said in the interval because the mix was fine for the second half.

The absence of Steve’s solo acoustic spot wasn’t wasn’t an issue for me. The acoustic sections of TOTC of the century and LOG more than made up for this.

I agree with some of the comments on the setlist and timing made by others. I could
Do without All Good People. Why oh why take the vocal sections out of America?

My highlights were Machine Massiah, South Side and the TfTO medley from the LoG section to the end. And of course the encores rocked but I’ve seen them so many times.

Overall however I was not impressed to see Tales butchered like this. It’s been a soundtrack to my life since I was 16. The transitions in the first two sides were clumsy in my view but more importantly the editing cut out the strongest moments. How much it would have been to just play one complete side.

I was lucky enough to see them at the RAH a few days later where non of the above comments on sound quality applied. Maybe it was last night enthusiasm but the show was stunning. Overall for me it was Birmingham 8 London 10.

A couple of final comments. They really should have gone all the way with striping back the production. A tacky white sheet badly hung at the back of the stage with occasional coloured shapes projected on to it looked amateurish and distracted from the show.

And finally on the programme. I don’t know what the issues were referred to by David but what a rip off. I didn’t by one in Birmingham because of the price but by the time I got to London I’d weakened only to be told they had sold out. However as we were leaving I noticed 3 had appeared on the Merch stand. I was told they had originally been held back but were now being sold with no explanation. I bought one but not until I got home did I realise it was Very dog eared and also missing Steve Howes signature! If I’d actually wanted a signature it would only have been Steve’s. Since then I seen copies for sale on line also missing his signature.

I ordered a copy on eBay of the 2023 YES tourbook (unsigned) from the Gottlieb Brothers themselves. Still not cheap, but I’m glad to have it.
I saw Jon and The Band Geeks with my brother in Rochester, NY. It was a very good show. Maybe a tad more aggressive or angular in style, lacking some of the subtlety and dynamics of YES (official), but an evening of music performed by the man who co-wrote these classics is not to be missed. I mentioned to my brother that it sounded more like a heavy-metal band playing progressive rock, and he suggested, “Like Trans-Siberian Orchestra?” The suggestion surprised me when he said it, but it rings pretty true to me on further reflection. There was plenty of bombast, which seemed to amount to “sound and fury, signifying nothing.” Well, not really nothing, but I will say that this is the very first time I have been disappointed by a live performance of “Awaken.” They started big and kept it big, with very little room to grow and develop into something transcendent during the journey of the song.

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