Sunday, 20 August 2017

Yestival: Yes at PNC Bank Center, Holmdel, 12 Aug 2017

Ok folks, you know the routine.  And tonight is the last gig of our three night Yestival concert series.

This is the very pretty open air amphitheater of the PNC Bank Center in sunny New Jersey.  It's all very civilised.  They have parking lots where you can have tailgate parties, and lawns where you can picnic, drink, and, er, smoke.  America knows how to do venues, and let's face it, they have the weather for it.

The weather this evening was hot.  It was so hot, that Carl Palmer's shirt stuck like a wet rag to his eternally youthful and perfectly formed torso, sweat plastered the hair of Jon to his forehead and threatened to make his glittery eyeshadow run, and the sweat ran in beads down Billy's face. All this I could see even from Row H.  It was that sweaty.

So here we go again.  Not so many photos tonight, but here's Young Person's Guide...

And there's also a rather bad video which I took of Survival.


He's blurry, He's sweaty.  He's glittery.

See also photos from Yes's Ford Amphitheater Coney Island performance on 11 August 2017 HERE.

Photos from their performance at Foxwoods, Connecticut on 10 August 2017 HERE.


  1. Listening to Survival emphasises with the addition of Dylan Howe on drums the notion that this line up of Yes has really moved into a very nice space where they take the spirit of the band (two fisted snare rolls, grinding bass and strong masculine tenor counter point vocals) and oddly enough make Yes sound more than any Yes I remember. The Moraz/White Band was super hyper but not very reversional and the 77/78 Band were 6/7 dates at Wembley that made SK,ST.AY &AI and Awaken their own but this line up thinks more about the music than themselves and it comes through. Its just personal but Jon Davison much warm richer mellow voice takes those early charming pieces and takes them to another level. Like Fairport Convention they should look through the back catalogue and do a popular requests CD so we can hear these performances in a controlled environment.

  2. Michelle, I'm amazed, but very pleased, that you managed to pick all that up from my video! It's the first videos I've done at a concert, so it was all a learning curve. One thing I did find afterwards is that when I zoom in or out, the sound suffers, so I'm afraid the videos aren't so much about the sound as me trying to get a sense of the performance.

    That said, I would say that Dylan very much gives an extra beefiness to the group - especially when revisiting something like DKTW. In fact, the one thing that comes out of their revisits to playing full classic albums all the way through is that it does very much give them a chance to reassess, reinterpret, and refresh the old material. Jon does a stellar job of putting the emotional force into the songs, especially on Drama, where such emotion was simply lacking (because in the 80s, that wasn't what the record or TH's voice was all about). And good grief, could he hit and sustain the high notes in these concerts.

    When I listen to ARW, I feel like I'm merely being used as a cash point, and it's all about them and their ego - with Yes, they are giving me a musical performance, and it's one that it constantly refreshing and evolving. Admittedly, the single-song from each album choices were somewhat 'safe', but as you suggest, there are plenty more exciting and challenging options out there yet to come.

    BTW we bumped into Mr Moraz too!

  3. There is a programme on Radio 3 on a Saturday where they discuss a piece of music and the many different variations available, indeed there are wonderful tomes which have exhaustive analysis of the various options, its how I have chosen versions over the years. That kind of thoughtful non tribal music centric analysis inspired me a long time ago to try and work out what is happening with the various presentations of Yes music down the years. The Ladder line up played the Ladder music with a real conviction and sense of ownership whereas I think this line up played the Album Tours better than any previous one despite for instance Geoff not having the rhapsodic finger style of Rick in some of the latter's more extravagant flourishes. ARW are not re inventing, APB did that well with Time and A Word and Owner of A Lonely Heart, but representing in their own personal style which means with the mix they use of pushing the Bass back into the rhythm section four fifths of the spirit and intent of both the 70's and 80's music is out to lunch for much of the concert. For me the most difficult element is LM111, nice guy but totally unsuitable for either era of music. Power and bombast without swing or playfulness. He also overlooks the one special ingredient of Bruford he often played the melody and allowed Chris or Steve to take the rhythmic centre which is why the Band sounded quite often like an electrified string quartet. Alan could swing more cf his live work on AGP or ROL. Listening to LM111 on ROL shows the difference between feel and a mechanically accurate performance perfectly. Yes outside of Relayer and Drama (Thats a slight over simplification) have always played music with a warmth both sound, key and feel its quite sentimental and positive if you do not get that in the music you have missed the point Jon Davison understands that which is why I find it amusing when people consider he is hamming it up. He is thats what Yes are about ringing out every last emotion with an underlying positive narrative!!

  4. You know a lot more about the technical aspects of music than I do Michelle!

    However, I think we're both kind of making the same basic point - that when you play a piece of music (just as when you paint a painting), you have to allow yourself to be used as a conduit by the medium. I think I described it before that when Jon sings, he sings from the inside of the music out.

    If, instead, you use the music as a vehicle for yourself, and you sing from the surface, then it is not about the music and its meaning and emotion, but about yourself and your ego. That is a much much shallower, less universal, less valuable thing.

    That's what I saw when I watched ARW with all TR's power chords, reaching its cringe-making apotheosis with the attention-seeking clowning about of Lou the drummer on AYAI. I said at the time it was like parping a clown's horn during the 1812 Overture. It's the same sort of thing when you look at a Vettriano painting - it's not about the paint, or the 'people' he paints - it's all about his ego, and the image is a vehicle for the promotion of that. Which isn't art.

    So what I'm saying is - Yes perform and interpret the music, and the music and its emotional quality are the priorities. As fans, we can hear that. With ARW, they're selling ARW, and the music is the bandwagon through which to do that.

  5. I think we are making the same point Judith and my last blog entry covers exactly the points you are making Yes are there to serve the music and communicate it. One of the great things about having ARW is they challenge you to understand why Yes, a band without some of the personalities that shaped the narrative, are so effective and special. Whilst I am a life long follower of the band I do not have to be invested in them, indeed I am aways expecting to let go but Yes with Fly From Here and these very reverential revivals are right where I want them to be.

    Incidentally if Patrick isn't a special guest next year for Relayer I will be very surprised.