YES – Like It Is; Yes at the Mesa Arts Center (2015)
Released by Frontiers Music, “Like It Is – Yes At The Mesa Arts Center” is a new concert recording from legends YES, captured live on August 12, 2014 at the Ikeda Theater in Mesa, Arizona, featuring Chris Squire, Steve Howe, Alan White, Geoff Downes and singer Jon Davison.
The release offers two of their classic albums performed in their entirety, all in one concert: 1971’s Fragile, and 1972’s Close To the Edge.
Most of the focus, fair or not, with “Like It Is – Yes At The Mesa Arts Center” will be on Jon Davison. The band’s current frontman, he played a major role in their most recent studio effort, but is only just now being included on Yes’ live recordings.
And so, long-time fans will likely be studying Davison, more than the rest, as he works his way through a legendary moment from Yes, the iconic albums Fragile &Close To the Edge.
There is, however, a lot more to “Like It Is – Yes At The Mesa Arts Center”, as it works as a tribute to Yes co-founder and bassist Chris Squire who died last week at age 67.
This recording gives us another chance to fully explore Squire’s genius at the bass.
All over the set, Squire moves with a still-striking deftness into a lead role for his Rickenbacker, playing with a cutting aggression that helped redefine the instrument. A wonder of syncopation, drive and wit, Chris Squire proceeds through a shifty performance that, at one point, feints from 6/8 to 3/4 and then dives head-long into a greasy 4/4 that would rattle any juke joint to its foundation.
The band performs Fragile and Close To the Edge in its enterity, very true to their original studio renditions, being as faithful as possible in a live setting. That said, there definitely are some subtle differences throughout, no doubt due to the passage of time and some update.
As said, the real surprise here is Jon Davison, who definitely makes his presence known. Davison has a similar vocal range to his predecessor Jon Anderson, but you have to give the guy credit for being his own artist and not simply emulating Anderson on these cuts.
This helps to give the album a more unique sound; you are not going to feel like you are hearing blatant carbon copies of the studio recordings on a live stage, and I give Davison and company all the more credit for that.
Stepping in and filling the shoes of a legendary vocalist like Jon Anderson is no easy task, but Davison strikes that balance between staying faithful to the originals, and putting his own spin on it all.
The rest of the group is in equally fine form, impressing throughout.
Without Chris Squire (RIP) I am not sure about the future of YES.
“Like It Is – Yes At The Mesa Arts Center” could be their last release ever, and it’s a very well performed / recorded double album successfully revisiting their most iconic works.
CD 1: Close to the Edge 2015
01. Close to the Edge
02. And You and I
03. Siberian Khatru
CD 2: Fragile 2015
02. Cans and Brahms
03. We Have Heaven
04. South Side of the Sky
05. Five Per Cent for Nothing
06. Long Distance Runaround
07. The Fish (Schindleria Praematurus)
08. Mood for a Day
09. Heart of the Sunrise
Jon Davison – vocals
Steve Howe – guitars
Chris Squire – bass
Alan White – drums
Geoff Downes – keyboards
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