PHOTOS + REVIEW — YES in Orlando, FL 2023

YES w/ Roger Dean (album cover artist) • October 10, 2023 • Dr Phillips Center — Orlando, FL • Photos by Richie Williams —


Yes | October 10, 2023 | Steinmetz Hall, Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts, Orlando, FL
Review by: Richard Williams 

The “Classic Tales of Yes Tour” stopped in Orlando last week in the new Steinmetz Hall at the Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts, which has only been open since January 2022. This room is described as one of the world’s most acoustically perfect spaces, designed to achieve an N1 sound rating—the lowest level at which humans can detect sound. Well, for a very technical progressive rock band like Yes, I was very excited for this show.

The English band was formed in London in 1968 by lead singer Jon Anderson, bassist Chris Squire, guitarist Peter Banks, keyboardist Tony Kaye, and drummer Bill Bruford. The band has undergone numerous lineup changes throughout their history, during which 20 musicians have been full-time members. The current lineup along on this tour featured Steve Howe (guitars, vocals), Geoff Downes (keyboards), Jon Davison (vocals, acoustic guitar), Billy Sherwood (bass guitar, vocals), and Jay Schellen (drums). Though not a founding member, Steve Howe goes back the furthest having done three stints since 1970.

Opening the show was English artist, designer, and publisher, Roger Dean. He began painting posters and album covers for musicians in the late 1960s, most notably Yes and Asia. The covers often feature exotic fantasy landscapes and vibrant colors. He designed the artwork for the albums Fragile (1971), Close to the Edge (1972), Yessongs (1973 live album), and Tales from Topographic Oceans (1973).

Roger stood on stage next to a laptop and shared on the projector screen several pieces of his artwork over the years, accompanied with stories of creativity. He likened the creative thought process to the idea of not thinking, like running down a flight of stairs and not thinking about where your feet will land, or how the first one to shoot in a gun fight will lose because they’re thinking about it. One segment of pictures included the idea of an ideal bedroom, a space you could feel in the dark and move around blindly with ease. He explained how a lot of his art started very abstract but then grew into vivid detail. He mentioned he was some influences, including his time in Hong Kong and Japan.

After a brief intermission, Yes took the stage for a good long set of old and new tunes, which sounded fantastic in this new state of the art theatre. All of the sounds could be heard in monstrous magnitude and were accompanied with a colorful light show that delicately complimented the music while not being overwhelming.

The big hit “I’ve Seen All Good People” was played early in the set and livened up the crowd nicely. A cover of Simon & Garfunkel’s “America” (which was actually written by Paul Simpon) followed and lead nicely into the acoustic love song “Time and a Word”. A few songs later, a surprise highlight for me was “Don’t Kill the Whale”, released from their 1978 album Tormato and which I was unfamiliar with. For a song about saving the whales and the planet, that evolved into a funky good time. Following that was “Cut From the Stars” of the new 2023 album Mirror to the Sky. The set ended with a medley from the band’s sixth studio album Tales from Topographic Oceans. The medley was essentially a shortened version of the four-track hour-long album.

After a quick walk off the stage, Yes returned for an encore to play my two favorite songs, “Roundabout” and “Starship Trooper” which spun the crowd in circles and blasted us off for a cosmically colorful ending.

The Young Person’s Guide to the Orchestra (Benjamin Britten song)

Going for the One
It Will Be a Good Day (The River)
Machine Messiah
I’ve Seen All Good People
America (Simon & Garfunkel cover)
Time and a Word
South Side of the Sky
Turn of the Century
Don’t Kill the Whale
Cut From the Stars
The Revealing Science of God (Dance of the Dawn) / The Remembering (High the Memory) / The Ancient (Giants Under the Sun) / Ritual (Nous sommes du soleil)
Starship Trooper

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