In the pantheon of progressive rock, right next to Supertramp, Genesis or Pink Floyd, is a band that has become as universal as its contemporaries, and whose name immediately announces its state of mind. Yes, like a cry from the heart, has never ceased to promote its vision of music. Hymn-like tracks that don't suffer from radio calibration. Experimentation with infinite sonorities and, of course, departures and reformations galore. In short, everything that makes a virtuoso '70s band legendary.
Fragile, Close to the Edge, Yes Album... Who doesn't remember these expansive songs, these esoteric lyrics, these titles in the form of adventurous narratives? Better still, who doesn't instantly recognize the colorful, graphic covers of Yes classics? Because with Yours is no Disgrace, Roundabout and The Fish, the band was the voice of a whole generation who firmly believed that the future could be better than the present.
Inventive, refined, taking imaginative detours and byways, Yes's music is always listened to like a long, fairytale epic. The kind that gets the imagination going as much as the body. And live, the band pushes the concept further with stagings whose poetry flirts with the psychedelic.
Of course, after a career spanning over 50 years, some people are quick to criticize the band for not having much in common with their early days. To these, the answer is easy: when a work becomes as timeless as theirs, it doesn't matter. The spirit of Yes has remained totally intact, and you only have to go to one of their concerts to see, feel and rediscover it. Yes is one of those bands that never dies.
It was Peter Banks, the band's legendary guitarist, who christened it Yes. Surrounded by Jon Anderson on vocals, Chris Squire on bass, Tony Kaye on keyboards and Bill Bruford on drums, the first concerts featured covers of The Beatles and Traffic, while the five honed their skills in the studio. The following year, their eponymous debut album was released, and although it wasn't an immediate success, Rolling Stone complimented their "sense of style, taste and subtlety", and they were already playing at the Royal Albert Hall, opening for Cream.
Five years on, the line-up has changed. Rick Wakeman has taken over the keyboards, Alan White has appeared behind the drums and Steve Howe is now on six strings. These changes have also enabled the band to refine its identity, increase its virtuosity and start releasing little nuggets of progressive rock. After the success of The Yes Album and Fragile, they exploded onto the charts with Close to the Edge, which purists readily describe as the band's most ambitious work, reaching third place in the U.S. charts and fourth in England. Yes, with its lengthy songs and convoluted universes, became a commercial success!
Longevity like that of Yes cannot exist without a hitch. In 1989, the band split up and two Yes groups were re-formed. One was Yes West, which had moved to the USA, the other Yes East, which remained in London. Naturally, both groups wanted to use their original names. A legal battle ensues, at the end of which everyone is reconciled. A surprisingly happy ending, resulting in the Grammy-nominated Union. Later, the whole band declares its dislike for this album, which at least had the merit of reconciling them.
In 2014, Yes won a Grammy Award for lifetime achievement. Over the years, the band has become one of those mythical names of the 70s, but they're not giving up. Progressive music is in their veins, and they demonstrate this once again with the release of Mirror to the Sky. Despite the loss of friends along the way, the band's spirit and appetite for the stage remain, with a European tour to follow.
It's a real thrill to see them playing their incredibly complex music live again and again. Virtuoso is the right word to describe Yes, even after all these years. You're immediately drawn into their world, which brings back delicious memories. A great evening!
We're always delighted to see Yes back on stage in France. Not only did the band make history, but they also left their mark on the youth of many of us. Each time they play, they make us rediscover a part of their discography, playing tracks never before played live, propelling us into their epic universe with a virtuosity that would overshadow any young prodigy.
For popular British progressive rock band Yes, 2019 was a pivotal year: it marked the 50th anniversary of the band's self-titled debut album, which launched a long and enduring career. Amidst numerous records, shows and personnel changes over the past five decades, Yes remains as active as ever. This is evident on their latest album The Royal Affair Tour (Live in Las Vegas), which should keep fans happy.