One of the all-time great progressive rock bands in the world (a notch higher perhaps than Genesis?), Yes, played in James Joyce’s former town, the beautiful port city of Trieste. The concert came to us thanks to the folks over at www.musicalibera.it.
This correspondent was fortunate enough to have seen the British band, which was formed way back in 1968 by bass guitarist Chris Squire and lead singer Jon Anderson, in Rome in 2003 as part of the band’s 35th anniversary (that tour was eventually turned into a double-DVD set called “Yesspeak”). There on the very same stage were perhaps 5 of the world’s greatest musicians: Steve Howe on guitar, Anderson on vocals, Squire on bass (with a triple-necked bass too, indeed a rarity in music)!, the immensely talented Rick Wakeman on keyboards (he came out dressed that evening looking like Harry Potter and was surrounded by a record 11 keyboards!) and one of the world’s greatest drummers, Alan White (White had played on John Lennon’s song “Instant Karma” and on the album “Imagine”. He was also part of John’s “Plastic Ono Band” and in the early 1970s during the epic concert in Toronto with Lennon’s heroes, Jerry Lee Lewis, Little Richard, Bo Diddley and Chuck Berry, there was White playing on drums as Berry was belting out “Johnny B. Goode”!).
Only three members of that 2003 truly magnificent line-up were in Trieste: “Professor” Howe (if he’s ever hard-up for cash he could easily find work at Harvard, Oxford or Cambridge teaching music and guitar. Unquestionably an exquisite master of the trade!), Squire and White. Due to apparent health problems, Anderson wasn’t there, nor was Wakeman unfortunately. Indeed a pity for those younger generations that have never been able to see those 5 great artists all together on the same stage.
A mere 2,000 people showed up, again a pity for the original 3 plus Canada’s Benoit David on vocals and Geoff Downes on keyboard, the first member of Yes to have graduated with a degree in music. The band took all those present down memory lane with some great old hits such as “Roundabout”, “Your Move/Good People”, “Starship Trooper” plus tunes from their latest album, “”Fly From Here”.
Yes’s set-piece only consisted of 12 songs but seeing that nearly every song lasts slightly more than 10 minutes, the concert ran close to two-and-half hours. With some added kilos here and there and on the world stage for only the past 43 years, Squire and Co. nevertheless played from the heart as fans also returned their immense respect and enthusiasm for this truly outstanding band (the me and the kid with the AC/DC top? I looked at him and said, "You know, you're a man of class"! He looked at me kind of stunned and then I told him that in 1977 I actually saw the band with Bon Scott, at which point with a certain awe and reverence, he said, "Complimenti"! Reminded me of when I was his age as he must have been only 15 or so (pic by Bepi Pappalettera)!