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Design By Humans
Published On: Thu, Aug 20th, 2015

Yes: Like It Is, Yes At the Mesa Arts Center

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Like It Is, Yes At The Mesa Arts Center
(Frontiers Records)

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It’s not particularly easy to listen to this new 12-song live Yes album, Like It Is: Yes At the Mesa Arts Center, seeing as Yes songwriter/bassist/backing vocalist and only original member standing, Chris Squire, just died. Squire, guitarist Steve Howe and drummer Alan White (the older Yes members) joined Geoff Downes on keyboards and latest Yes vocalist Jon Davison for 2014 concerts like the one featured on this new double album, recreating two of the band’s more famous albums, Close to the Edge and Fragile. The first disc (songs from Close to the Edge) is full and in order, opening with that distinctive bird tweeting, then into a slower-than-recorded instrumental beginning with Howe’s plinky, clean, often cut-short runs. Downes cooks on organ arpeggios and we are soon through the “The Solid Time of Change” and “Total Mass Retain” first two sections. A positively plodding “And You And I” follows after the close of “Close to the Edge” and the most spirited tune of all two discs, “Siberian Khatru,” ends the set as it does the album. Here, Howe finally does come alive a smidgen, still he’s missing notes all over. Disc two features all of Fragile, opening with (again) a slower-than-recorded version of a tune, this time the hit “Roundabout” into Downes’ spot-on recreation of the classical keyboard solo work-out “Cans and Brahms,” then a slightly stuttering, “South Side Of the Sky” and “Long Distance Runaround.” One certainly misses Squire even on the abbreviated bass solo we get here on “The Fish (Schindleria Praematurus).” As is evident throughout Davison and Squire’s vocal mix sounds great and the band plays perfectly behind Davison (at least they hit all the requisite notes) and granted this music is not so easy to play. It’s just that things don’t sound all that ballsy these days with Yes recreating either album.

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Yes: Like It Is, Yes At the Mesa Arts Center