Story and Photos by Tom Collins
Philadelphia has long had a love affair with Rock & Roll Hall of Fame inductees, the classic prog rock band YES. Celebrating their 50th Anniversary, they wanted to celebrate properly with 2 big shows and a YES Fanfest at Live Nation’s hot venue, The Fillmore! In all reality, it would take at least a weeks worth of concerts by the band to cover all of their incredible songs from such a long career! Given they had 2 days to get the job done, YES brought out all the stops for the ultimate YES experience! Lead by classic members of the band, Steve Howe and Alan White were joined by Geoff Downes, Billy Sheerwood and Jon Davison on vocals. There is of course a second touring version of YES with ARW, Anderson, Rabin and Wakeman. They all last performed together for their Hall of Fame induction but have resumed their separate tours afterwards. Both are equally fantastic and most importantly, are keeping the YES legacy alive for their loyal fans.
Over a 50 year span, YES has had many interchangeable members and sadly, some have since passed including legendary bassist, Chris Squire. During their first nights performance, YES had some spectacular surprises waiting to join the festivities. The first surprise, Steve Howe welcomed legendary bassist and producer, Trevor Horn to the stage to sing on “Fly From Here”. The crowds response was electric which brought a smile to Trevor’s face that he could hardly contain long enough to sing! Keeping the momentum going, they brought out another former YES member, Patrick Moraz to play keys on “Soon”. The audience was already thrilled but they erupted in possibly the loudest applause of the night when original keyboardist for the band, Tony Kaye joined everyone on stage to play the shows encores of “Yours Is No Disgrace, Roundabout and Starship Trooper!” As beautiful as their musicianship and vocals are, it was very heart warming to watch them all perform with such joy and enthusiasm for the music and being together. Smiles circulated from one band member to another as they played the bands iconic songs.
There are very few bands who have stood the test of time so successfully. Five decades of music covers a lot of generations! I spoke to a couple from the audience who had brought their teenage daughter. The daughter was wearing a pristine, vintage YES 90125 shirt that was once her mothers! This was the perfect example of how their music transcends time and surely will well into the future. “Progressive Rock” music is a unique style of music that paints incredible images in ones imagination. Only one person in the world has been able to capture that imagery in his art and that is famed painter, Roger Dean. Roger of course is well known for his stunningly beautiful paintings that have graced YES and Asia album covers. As an extra special treat for fans attending the shows and the YES Fanfest, Roger Dean was there in person with a magnificent display of his famed art works! You would be hard pressed to meet a more kind and gracious man to talk to than Roger. He loves talking all things music and art and truly appreciates his fans. Looking at his rough sketches and renditions of his legendary album covers was to visually look back into the history of YES. It was an honor and privilege to see and that was not lost on anyone.
Guitarist, Steve Howe “The Maestro” with the ethereal vocals of Jon Davison and the entire YES band was virtually everything a fan could have asked for. Two spectacular nights of music and a afternoon Fanfest! Philadelphia radio great, Ray Koob hosted the Fanfest and conducted a fun and fascinating Q&A with the band. Check out Ray Koob’s page link below for more on the YES Fanfest and other great events! These 2 days of events were just as much for the fans as it was for YES. They wanted to give back for their 50 years of fan driven success and they most certainly did!!!
YES live at the Philadelphia Fillmore