Cherry Red 2016
From the first to the last, former and future YES members revisit their memories to report from the road.
For all their studio rapport, watching one classic band’s original keyboard player and bassist-to-be on stage is a strange experience – there’s not a lot of visual interaction between the two introverts – yet it’s weirdly riveting aurally. That’s why Kaye and Sherwood’s Japanese jaunt of 2011 was a success and that’s why a DVD part of this package, with grainy footage and short behind-the-scenes sketches, doesn’t have much value, which can’t be said of two CDs it accompanies. Weaving in and out of YES fabric and sometimes putting a spin on something neither of them recorded – partly stripped of lushness, new take on “Wondrous Stories” is comfortably down-to-earth – Billy and Tony explore deeper paths of their catalogues, and here’s a reason for the result to be so solid.
Still, despite the latter’s heroic posture and tasty improvisation, it’s the former’s gig in creative terms. In the absence of music from BADGER or DETECTIVE, there’s a brilliantly understated version of “The Other Side” that Sherwood helped TOTO to pen and a few of his solo cuts, while his work with Kaye under the CIRCA banner is limited to two pieces. The inspired rendition of “Together We Are” stresses their bond, though, whereas the filigree-sharp “Cut The Ties” indicates the desire to go beyond the obvious.
The obvious is on display, yet if “Owner Of A Lonely Heart” is impossible to escape, Billy bends its standard shape after starting the show with the equally lively, organ-elevated run through “Confess” – one of several Chris Squire co-writes, off CONSPIRACY and, “Say Goodbye” making its concert debut, WORLD TRADE albums. What’s also notable is the performers’ pull towards their parent band’s less celebrated creations, so the rather transparent “Roundabout” and “Time And A Word” may lead to the airy rediscovery of “I Am Waiting” or “No Way We Can Lose.”
It’s not an acoustic endeavor, backing tracks filling the space between ivories and six strings, but in front of the audience “Fireworks” is lighter than on record, unlike “Man Over Bored” which is mildly jarring – intentionally, perhaps – as is “The More We Live” that rises to hymnal heights. There may be nothing wuthering, yet in the tangle of YES’ peripheral nerves this live document is very viable.