PHOTOS: Yes at the Grand Sierra Resort

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YES started off their show at just after 8 p.m. last week with a recording of Benjamin Britten’s “The Young Person’s Guide to the Orchestra.” Their first five songs were plucked in chronological order from their first five albums. The room started jumping with number 3, Yours is No Disgrace.

Yesterday a morning came, a smile upon your face
Caesar’s palace, morning glory, silly human, silly human race,
On a sailing ship to nowhere, leaving any place,
If the summer change to winter, yours is no,
Yours is no disgrace…

YES, which originally formed in 1968, played in Reno’s Grand Sierra Resort Thursday to a nearly packed house. YES is a band that has gone through countless configurations with members coming and going over the years.

The makeup of Thursday’s show contained none of the original members. However, with the exception of singer Jon Davison, who joined up in 2012, all other members have been long term YES members: Steve Howe – 1970, Alan White – 1972, Geoff Downs – 1980, and Billy Sherwood – 1994.

I should also point out that YES’s first successful album (The Yes Album) came with the addition of Steve Howe to the band. Two of the original founding members, Chris Squire and Peter Banks have passed away, while the other three, Jon Anderson, Tony Kaye, and Bill Bruford have moved on to other projects.

When I last saw them in 2013 they had recently signed on Jon Davison when their previous lead singer dropped out shortly before a tour was to begin. His level of comfort on stage with Yes has matured since then, as has he. He really felt like the front man for the band this time. His voice is incredible. Replacing Jon Anderson is no easy task.

Steve Howe was the other focal point of the show with his lanky frame jumping around and posturing throughout the show. He looked like a 21st century electrified version of Abe Lincoln. It was surprising to see him at 70 years old hopping and kicking sporadically all night. His playing was as sharp as ever. Having a reputation for being a little crotchety he did try to get securities attention to address an audience member up front that he was not happy with.

I was surprised to see two drum sets set up when I walked into the theater. None of the information I had seen indicated anything other than Alan White on drums. When the show started Alan was playing. By the third song he was gone and the other drum set was occupied by Steve Howe’s son, Dylan, who did a great job filling in. Alan came back out later. My guess is it’s a bit much for him to play a full set of Yes songs these days. He’s only 68 so maybe he’s just a little bit under the weather.

Geoff Downs (member in early 80’s and again since 2011) nailed it on keyboards. He was surrounded by a fleet of keyboards spread out  in every direction, as far as the hands could reach. Following the death of founding member Chris Squire in 2015, Billy Sherwood is now playing the bass guitar. Billy had been a member of Yes in various capacities going back to 1991.

The well-seasoned audience gradually worked their way to the edge of the stage for the encore, waving their walking sticks and Blackberries (I’m just kidding about that. They had iPhones).  They finished up the show with Roundabout, one of their most successful songs and left to huge applause.

The Grand Sierra Resort has been bringing a lot of quality shows to Reno over the past several years, and this was one of them. I was more impressed with this show than I expected to be. The energy was constant, the sound was great, and the musicianship was at the top of its class.

Live music is great. The difference between going out and hearing live music versus listening at home, is like going out to a nice meal versus eating at home. Both are good, but…

SET LIST

  • Survival
  • Time and a Word
  • Yours Is No Disgrace
  • South Side of the Sky
  • And You and I
  • Leaves of Green
  • Soon
  • Going for the One
  • Don’t Kill the Whale
  • Machine Messiah

  • Madrigal
  • Roundabout

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Nick McCabe
About Nick McCabe 18 Articles

Nick McCabe is a Reno-based photojournalist and musician. He’s been shooting concerts in the Reno-Tahoe area since 2006 and writing articles and reviews since 2012, as well as doing interviews on occasion. His musical education and playing experience goes back to 1967. He is a founding member of the Reno Tahoe Forte’ Awards, and he still plays music locally for enjoyment. First concert: Jimi Hendrix. Last concert: we’ll see.

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