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Live Review: Yes with Toto @ FMBP

| August 17, 2015

Yes and Toto
FirstMerit Bank Pavilion at Northerly Island, Chicago
Sunday, August 16, 2015

Take one of the world’s most pioneering progressive rock bands with a super group of session players whose collective fingerprints span more than 5,000 albums and it’s a surefire (albeit not exactly obvious) match for the outdoor concert season. Though Yes and Toto regularly crossed charts and recording studios since the 1970s, this is the first time both groups are hitting the road together, resulting in a respectably populated FirstMerit Bank Pavilion at Northerly Island (nestled between the lakefront with a pretty stunning view of the downtown skyline).

Prog-tipped melodic rockers Toto turned up first in the co-headlining outing armed with the new album XIV and a past catalogue that just tipped the scale of 40 million album sales. Though the line-up has shuffled continuously over the years, core originals Steve Lukather (guitar/vocals), dueling keyboardists David Paich and Steve Porcaro, along with bassist David Hungate had no trouble holding down the fort alongside periodic singer Joseph Williams, newly acquired drummer Shannon Forrest, recently returning percussionist Lenny Castro, plus soulful support singers Jenny Douglas-Foote and Mabvuto Carpenter throughout 90 minutes of prodigious playing and hearty harmonies.

Opener “Running Out Of Time” leaped to greater life on stage than on the new album, though oldies such as “I’ll Supply The Love,” “Hold The Line” and “Pamela” seemed to register significantly more audience awareness. The group wisely skipped its slew of syrupy ballads (likely to have been swallowed up by the spacious outdoor setting), instead letting loose for an uncharacteristic cover of The Jimi Hendrix Experience’s “Little Wing,” current cut “Orphan” and an improvisational take on “Africa,” all of which foreshadowed the extended jams to come.

Though an equal amount of time wasn’t nearly enough to thoroughly delve into Yes’ even deeper back-story (especially considering so many selections hover around the 20 minute mark), the group currently comprised of guitarist Steve Howe, drummer Alan White, keyboardist Geoff Downes, bassist Billy Sherwood and front man Jon Davison dished a pretty fair split between fan favorites and core radio cuts. However, more than any specific era, the most appropriate place to start was a video tribute to Chris Squire, the group’s co-founder and sole continuous member who gave everyone a blessing to carry on prior to his recent passing.

He was most certainly missed, as was original singer Jon Anderson, but Davison was pretty much a dead ringer on everything from “Going For The One” to “I’ve Seen All Good People,” while all the players effortlessly executed more complicated material like “Tempus Fugit” and “Siberian Khatru.” As “Roundabout” wrapped up the main portion of the performance, the latest line-up of Yes more than manifested its merit, further wetting its cult-like crowd’s appetite for a solo return that will hopefully have at least one additional hour on the clock.

-Review and photos by Andy Argyrakis




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Category: IE Photo Gallery, Live Reviews, Stage Buzz, Weekly

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