Celebrating 50 Years of Yes!

Detroit, Michigan (June 30, 2018) The magnificent Fox Theatre in downtown Detroit, MI, has seen its share of illustrious performers over its lifetime. Tonight it added the legendary progressive rock band Yes to that historic archive!

Out on 35-date tour in celebration of their landmark 50th anniversary, Steve Howe (guitar/vocals), Geoff Downes (keyboards/vocals), Billy Sherwood (bass/vocals), Jon Davison (lead vocals), and Jay Schellen (drums) made up the current iteration of Yes that initially took the stage for the YES 50 celebration.

With a slew of hits scattered throughout their illustrious career, the casual fan would have been initially disappointed with the 15-song set the band chose. The setlist tonight wasn’t going to be hit after hit, it was going to be the deep cuts that true Yes fans would know and appreciate. Each carefully selected from a half-century of landmark music with arrangements evocative of the future, yet with distinctive lyrics from the past.

Among the selections were songs that ran the gamut from the early 70’s right through to the modern era of Yes. Classics such as “Nine Voices (Longwalker)”, “Fly From Here, Part I: We Can Fly”, and “Mood For a Day”, each exquisitely performed. The set seemingly was chosen to draw on the emotions of the eclectic crowd, by taking them back to a time in life long removed, when music was an art not a computer-driven function.

An emotional highlight from the riveting first set occurred right before “Parallels” was queued. Howe, the spokesman for the night, paid tribute to founding member and bassist Chris Squire who passed in 2015. A heartfelt arm to the heavens as Billy Sherwood, hand picked by Squires as his replacement, began the recognizable bass chords to “Parallels”. As the crowd joined in, Howe and Geoff Downs continued pointing skyward in a long, well-deserved tribute to their fallen friend.

When the band returned to the stage, after a short break, the journey through the past into the future continued. “Perpetual Change” and “Does It Really Happen” reinvigorated the crowd. Jon Davison’s silky smooth vocals along with Howes guitar and Downes keyboard magic transported the senses back to a time when progressive rock and roll was an art form, and music filled a generation with emotion.

When the eerie sound of the keyboards began filling the air, “Soon” was now! A beautiful fantasy song if there ever was such a thing. Mesmerizing the crowd with its artistic arrangements and reverberating vocals, a perfect lead into the final song of the second set, the musical masterpiece ”AWAKEN”.

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As the band returned to the cheers of their appreciative fans, they brought along with them founding member Tony Kaye (keyboards/vocals) and classic member, Alan White (drums/vocals). With Kaye center stage behind a classic Roland keyboard and White perched behind the drum kit, it was time for the hits. With Howe’s complicated guitar licks opening “Yours is No Disgrace” and Kaye covering the keys, the dash to the end of the night was on. With the crowd on their feet feeding energy to the band, the momentum kept building right thru “Roundabout” and finally to their unquestionably most recognized FM classic radio hit, “Starship Trooper”.

The #Yes50 Tour 2018 world tour is a celebration of a half-century of music written and arranged by virtuosos who are often referred to as “Kings of Progressive Rock”. Tonight we witnessed a small sampling of their history performed by aging stars with invigoration and charisma of their youth. If you have never seen Yes before, do yourself a favor and think about buying a ticket for a show on this tour. With 50 years behind them, there may never be a better chance than now!


The Fox Theatre:

Author: John Swider

Senior Photojournalist — Portfolio

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