YES - 'Like It Is: At The Mesa Arts Center' Hot

Added by Central Electronic Brain     December 15, 2015    
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Featuring Chris Squire, this is a fine performance/legacy for the man who co-formed Yes in 1968 and played on every album.

Yes was my first love as a (Progressive) Rock band when I discovered them almost thirty-five years ago and Chris Squire immediately became, and will always remain, my favourite bass player. When I heard that he had passed away a few weeks ago after a very short illness, I was devastated and, if I am truthful, I am still coming to terms with the fact that the world has lost such an innovative and imposing musician. This live 2CD/DVD set was recorded in Phoenix (Squire's home city for the last few years) in August last year and what we get is full album renditions of two Prog classics in 'Close To The Edge' and 'Fragile'.

The live sound is clear and well produced. Steve Howe effortlessly switches from acoustic to lead to steel guitar on 1972's title track 'Closer To The Edge'. Geoff Downes competently covers the keyboard parts (however he is no Rick Wakeman) and Squire's bass booms out of the speakers in all the right places. Jon Davison sounds like Jon Anderson but also adds his own stamp whilst Howe and Squire's harmony vocals complement his performance. 'And You And I' has plenty of steel guitar from Howe and it is played beautifully by the band. The last of the three tracks on the first half, 'Siberian Khatru', comes across powerfully with Howe in particular shining. The band deservedly receives a standing ovation at the end of the song and first of the two albums.

'Roundabout' kicks of the part two as the band head off into 1971's 'Fragile' and the Arizona locals are on their feet having a boogie! Downes dons a pair of spectacles during 'Cans And Brahms' so that he can read the music on his laptop. To be fair, this is a complex piece and there aren't too many keyboardists who would be able to perform Wakeman's solo and Downes does an admirable job. 'We Have Heaven' has very clever harmonies with Davison also playing acoustic guitar and the following 'South Side Of The Sky' is atmospheric and in parts haunting; here we see the band in full flow and even drummer Alan White springs to life. 'Five Per Cent For Nothing' was originally Bill Bruford's solo contribution on 'Fragile' and it is another complex piece; unfortunately it does not transfer across very well live. 'Long Distance Runaround' on the other hand sounds fresh and vibrant with solo flurries from Howe and Squire and this neatly runs into Squire's signature tune 'The Fish (Schindleria Praematurus)'. Again we have great harmony vocals and the big man plays his bass as if he was on lead guitar – what a star... and it receives another well-deserved standing ovation. 'Heart Of The Sunrise' majestically completes the show and finally we have some decent lighting (why didn't they ask Roger Dean to design the stage set?). If I have one minor quibble, why not include the songs that made up the full show as bonus tracks?

But that aside, this is more than likely the last live show that was recorded for release featuring Squire and is a fine performance/legacy for the man who co-formed Yes in 1968 and played on every album. On a personal note, I want to close by saying a huge public thank you to Chris Squire for providing us with almost fifty years of awesome music and memories which will live on forever.

Az Chaudhry

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