Yes – Brighton Centre – 21st March 2018

Photo by Ben Walker

A truly iconic name across the globe, Yes are a fundamental pillar in the creation of all forms of modern rock. With quite the career behind them, tonight Yes bless this Brighton crowd with a celebration of 50 years of the band’s incredible legacy, arming themselves with a throwback sound which emphasises the very essence of what it means to be a modern musician.

No support is needed this evening and, instead, the show is split into two sets from the band, immediately opening with a colossal sound from ‘Yours Is No Disgrace’, the band emerge and the crowd release a deafening level of applause. The enthusiasm tonight from both the crowd and band is simply ecstatic and as the beautiful melodies begin to flow, guitarist and born showman Steve Howe takes the spotlight and leads with a string of blissfully intricate solo notes. Steve is perhaps a little past his heyday and a fair few fumbles can be heard in his work, however, considering the man is 70 and still touring, this doesn’t massively distract from the sound and you can still see the crowd relishing in his talents.

Vocals from Jon Davison tonight are simply impeccable, whilst a tribute is paid to the late former bassist and vocalist Chris Squire, who was a quintessential part of Yes’ sound, with Jon dedicating ‘Onward’ to his memory. Each track is done an immense level of justice and Jon is able to tear through a great deal of both power and delicacy with exquisite levels of control and care. The progressive sound is brilliantly overpowering and, combined with a psychedelic backing projection, the room transforms into an overwhelming euphoric experience; you can see a fair few crowd members closing their eyes during the set, perhaps as a nod back to nostalgic youths of listening to this material for the first time, which is a bizarrely beautiful thing to imagine. Likewise, all of the other instrumentals have in no way lost their touch: the bass work, keys and drums from Alan White are tight, fresh and as if the band had only started yesterday.

Perhaps the stand out track on the evening came in the form of ‘Leaves Of Green’, where Steve took centre stage armed with just his acoustic. He looks and sounds far more comfortable in the setup and is a definite master of the guitar as he proceeds to create some sublime acoustics which really add a great level of intimacy and depth to the show’s extravagance. This also allows Jon to further show his raw capabilities, reaching the highest of prolonged sopranos without even the slightest quiver, he is a perfectionist in every sense of the word.

Even as the first set came to an end, the crowd leave their seats in a standing ovation and you can see the enjoyment and buzz around the venue as they all return to grab another drink, before unleashing another applause after the interval. To play such a long show and keep it interesting and well paced throughout is a challenge for any band, however, Yes have had half a century to prep for this, and it shows. The degree of variance tonight is fantastic, featuring not only the slower melodic ‘The Revealing Science of God’ but equally the flamboyant and powerful ‘Parallels’. Tonight’s finale is ‘Ritual (Nous sommes du soleil)’ and sees another deafening demand for an encore, to which the band of course respond with an incredible rendition of ‘Roundabout’. You can see the entire room bobbing around to the funky riffs as if it were 1971 again. A phenomenal way to round off the evening.

A night with Yes is something that you have to do at least once, this band still maintain such a strong position within the history of rock’n’roll music and are more than deserving of their legendary status. Perhaps the curtain is beginning to close on this band and their farewell tour will certainly be upon us soon, however with the level of inspiration which they have caused to the world being near unfathomable, Yes is one name which will stand the test of time forever.

Ben Walker