GIG REVIEW: Legendary YES at Freedom Hill Amphitheater, Sterling Heights, Michigan
August 19th 2016, YES performed at Freedom Hill Amphitheater in Sterling Heights, Michigan. This tour YES performed several songs from their albums ‘Drama’ and ‘Tales from Topographic Oceans’ and a handful of other songs over a two and a half hour show which included a 20 minute intermission. Playing to a less than half capacity crowd of a venue which can hold approximately just over 7000 people, the band delivered a stellar show for those who attended.
With Jon Davison behind the mic providing that classic YES vocal sound, and musicianship from Steve Howe on guitar and keyboards, Geoff Downes, who looked like he was commandeering a spaceship as he was surrounded by nine keyboards and three laptop computers. Billy Sherwood on bass guitar and filling in on drums was Jay Schellen for Alan White who is out while recovering from back surgery. Schellen didn’t miss a beat as he kept the percussion’s thumping.
The music of YES is something more of the avant-garde type as the sound is a mix of progressive, art and symphonic rock. The arrangements of the songs are complex and they were executed greatly and much appreciated by the audience who often gave standing ovations after each song. I’m not used to being at a concert where the audience sits most of the time but you could tell the people were having a good time.
The power of music revealed itself when older fans in the crowd seemed to have been transformed back in time to when they were teenagers listening to their YES vinyl albums in their rooms as they danced and moved the best their bodies would let them. The guy a couple seats over from me, was really into it for a song when he played some intense air drums. It’s great to see people enjoying themselves and getting lost in the music. Accompanying the band was a video backdrop which displayed images of tranquil waterfalls to psychedelic visions as if you were traveling through a time warp.
Some of the music made me sleepy as it was relaxing and made feel as if I should be in a spaceship traveling through outer space, but the band rose the energy level up as they played a trio of drums for a primitive heart pumping performance and a bit later in the show after a quick break the crowd was brought to their feet as YES played their great jam song, “Roundabout”. The energy soared as the band jammed away and the crowd soaked it all in with joy. YES ended the show with their trippy sounding song “Starship Trooper”, which at this point we all were aboard whatever ship YES had us in and fully taking the ride to wherever they wanted to take us.
I wish I could have captured some moments on photographs but YES had a no camera policy and only three photo passes were allotted for individuals who either worked for a radio station or were the house photographer. Even cell phone use was kept at a minimum with staff notifying not to use them. It made for more of an intimate show and a bit of a throwback to a time when cell phones weren’t littering the air at concerts. Which seemed appropriate since YES is a throwback band as their music transcends the listener back through time and allows the fans to enjoy the concert to its fullest.
YES has been around for almost 50 years and many band members have come and gone but the music still sounds true. For fans of progressive rock, YES is a must see event. So if you have a chance to see them, just say YES!