Last 25th of February Yes played in Madrid. The Concert those close to 2.700 people that met in the La Riviera club was Yes in its purest state.
I recognize that I attended the concert with a mixture of illusion and fear. On the one hand, the illusion of seeing that I consider the biggest group of the symphonic-progressive rock, that I had never been able to see in concert for complex circumstances. In the other hand, the fear that Billy Sherwood's presence may force the elected playlist to be based on songs as "Open Your Eyes", "Love Conquers All", etc.
When I heard the first few notes from the "Birds of fire" by Stravinsky, I believe I was not alone in feeling my heart shiver. Was it just an attempt to legitimate what would come next, as if nothing had changed, and then to destroy the feeling with songs from their last two album and just some classics? Was it maybe a veiled advance of an unforgettable night? In that moment, the artists entered the stage to occupy their positions in the scenario: Higher than the others, to the left Igor Khoroshev; Alan White to the right. The first dressing kind of a wide white leather jacket that reminded from Rick Wakeman at a distance; the second with a sports attire that showed he was going to sweat. In front of them, from left to right, Steve Howe with his collection of guitars, Jon Anderson with space to the front and in his small sanctuary at the bottom, Chris Squire, occupying most of the lateral right space and hiding Billy Sherwood, who probably neither wanted to be noticed.
Once placed, us with our pulse count at 180, the transition of the firebird drives to the starting notes of.... (Oh. my God. It cannot be true!) Your is no disgrace"! Like this, in the beginning. Terrible. Impressive. A slight initial lack of coordination can only be reproached. But then..., a wonderful set in scene of a complex piece. The work of all was praiseworthy. I would highlight the work from Igor Khoroshev at the keyboards (this monster dared to play classic topics of the band without his pulse trembling and confronting different conceptions of the music such as that of R.Wakeman or T. Kaye). The piece sounded very similar to the studio version, except in the final intervention by S.Howe with its beautiful reading of the improvisation. Once the song finished, with no delay Jon Anderson filled the audience with peace and love to beauty with "Time And A Word"s central section. It didn't last a minute, but in our heart it took hours. They followed with The Ladder (Homeworld)", very similar to the studio, but played masterfully.
Just in case some though the best was already over, from the depths, as a volcano in eruption, "Perpetual Change" arose suddenly. No comment. The simple fact of daring to play this marvel shows the clear spirit of Yes, pleasing the audience above individualities, commitments,...Squire and White enjoyed it a lot! Very well, lads.
Then, two pieces of the last album: "Lightning Strikes" that sounded with an astonishing purity and that ended with S. Howe's very special version. "The Messenger" was a good excuse for C. Squire to shine and it showed us once again that the perfect wheeling of the group depends on a great measure from him.
In the same way that Jon made in Time And A Word", we could now hear the chorus of Ritual-Nous sommes du soleil". The evocation power, the magnetism, the aura that surrounds this man. His voice... His voice... The VOICE. Next, although almost all were convinced that it would be interpreted, And you and I gave freedom to the emotion contained in our hearts. The almost mystical attitude of Jon. The absolute perfection of everything. The wonderful work of Igor. Even the good support from Sherwood, they made that of us think it has already been worthwhile".
The concert followed with other two songs of the last album, the first being It Will Be A Good Day (The River)". Along with "Homeworld" I believe this song has earned the right to be a classic of the band. It has nothing to envy to the compositions of the 70s. The voice of Anderson made us shiver with his sensibility and delivery. Delicious keyboards. It was not the same with Face To Face". This was maybe the weakest song of the night. Not because it was badly played, but because, it is far behind from the quality of the rest of the repertoire.
After announcing Jon that "Hearts" came next, something that everybody noticed: Billy Sherwood moves ahead and locates in front of the audience. A certain fear is noticed in his face. The interpretation of the song is good, and the public from Madrid thanks him. An standing ovation. Starting from then, he will no longer be the same one, as seen in his more happy intervention in the choirs.
If we had already has some surprises, nobody could imagine the bigger one that came now. Chris picks up his 3 head bass. Would they dare to profane Wakeman's sanctuary? Igor would dare to play such a long piece in which everyone could compare him with the master? Yes, gentlemen "Awaken" was the consecration of Khoroshev as an instrumentalist. Maybe his contribution to the composition work is not yet clear, but he proved his grandiose quality like instrumentalist. Delicious. Perfect. It was a pity that we could not enjoy the projection of the videotape with the flight of the hummingbird and drawings of Roger Dean, as the club did not have an appropriate screen. And if all this was not still enough, I´ve seen all good people with its high dose of happiness, put the happy end to a masterful first part of the concert.
The encores came, starting with a solo appearance from Howe who interpreted perfectly to our delight Mood for to day". Then he disappear to open the way to the rest of the group, that were able to transmit us the whole energy contained in "Cinema" and already with S. Howe again in the scenario, Owner of a lonely heart". Amazing. They sounded to me better than in the tour of 90125.
And as a dessert, "Roundabout". I have no more adjectives. It was a pleasure to see the group in the scenario sounding like a perfect machine, able to transmit the same emotions that have characterized them for thirty years. Magnificent. They even dared to vary the structure of this brilliant piece, giving it a more modern look. In conclusion, Yes came to Madrid to satisfy its audience and to surrender to us without any more considerations. The duration, above 2 hours 20 minutes corroborates it. A night that will be difficult to forget for all those still floated in a cloud when we left La Riviera, and that self-absorbed stayed looking to the Segovia Bridge, wondering if everything had not just been a dream.
If in Concerts we put a grade, without a single doubt, this could not be less than 5 stars.